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Delhi includes Khaplang in talks

Kohima, Nov. 13: The Centre has now decided to take on board all major Naga militant groups after observing that a peace deal with only one group will not bring a permanent solution to the over six-decade-old Naga political problem.

The Khaplang group of the NSCN has reciprocated the Centre’s invitation for talks. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has already invited the NSCN (K) for talks. “We have met the home minister in New Delhi recently,” Hokato Vusshe, a senior kilonser (minister) of the group, told this correspondent.

He said Shinde had twice spoken to them over phone last month inviting the outfit for talks, but the militant leader said they had insisted on an official invite from the Union home ministry. “We have asked for an official letter,” Vusshe added.

Shinde has reportedly agreed to issue an official invitation letter to the NSCN (K) very soon. With the new development, top leaders of the NSCN (K) will soon meet somewhere in Mon district to chalk out their future course of action.

“We will soon meet and discuss about the development,” Vusshe said. Sources also said some top members of the outfit, led by its envoy and senior functionary Kughalu Mulatonu, had left for Myanmar to meet their chairman S.S. Khaplang and apprise him of the current development.

The Centre signed a ceasefire with the NSCN (I-M) led by chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary, Thiungaleng Muivah in 1997 with a condition that it would neither recognise other Naga outfits nor hold talks with them.

Observing that a permanent solution would continue to elude Naga people if all groups are not taken on board, the NSCN (I-M) has also not opposed to engaging other groups in the peace process.

The NSCN (K), which sig-ned a truce with the Centre in 2001, has repeatedly expressed willingness to begin talks with the Centre but there was no invitation from the Union government because of ongoing talks with the NSCN (I-M).

Swu and Muivah had threatened to pull out of the peace process if other groups like the NSCN (K) was invited.

Vusshe said Khaplang’s participation in the peace process would depend on the seriousness and sincerity of the Centre. He hinted that without Khaplang’s participation the peace process may become a futile exercise.

“The issue is with us and not with other groups,” the NSCN (K) minister said. He said sovereignty of Nagaland would be the basis for talks with the Centre. He, however, said consultation with the Naga people would be a priority before taking any decision to hammer out a solution. He asked the Centre to differentiate between other groups and the NSCN (K), claiming that the outfit is the sole representative of the Naga people.

“We will seek opinions of our people and represent them in talks with the Government of India,” Vusshe said. He added that the Naga solution would be based on 1951 Naga plebiscite where 99.9 per cent had opted for sovereignty.

Senior military commander of NSCN (K) Niki Sumi said the 1964 ceasefire and subsequent six rounds of talks between the representatives of Federal Government of Nagaland, the underground government of Naga National Council, led by its ‘Prime Minister’ Kughato Sukhai, and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had collapsed as Naga leaders had rejected the “Bhutan status”.