New Delhi, Dec. 6: A meeting with NSCN (I-M) leaders was “deferred” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this week but hopes of a breakthrough remain alive ahead of next year’s general elections.
Cancellation of the meeting, which was scheduled for Wednesday, has raised questions whether the move followed fears of disturbances in Manipur.
Sources said the meeting was “cancelled” after warnings from security agencies that it could affect peace in Manipur but the NSCN has dismissed the suggestion.
“The meeting was not cancelled, only deferred as chairman (Isak Chisi Swu) is in Dimapur. Once he is back, the meeting will take place,” an NSCN source said. “We were promised that there will be something before the 2014 elections,” he added.
Swu is in Dimapur for his son’s wedding and is likely to return soon.
Incidentally, Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh met the Prime Minister on Wednesday on fencing of the Indo-Myanmar border.
A senior security force officer in Nagaland looked at the situation with optimism. He said security forces, including the army, feel if the Naga imbroglio is resolved, Manipur-related problems would also be solved. The army and the paramilitary forces are tackling multiple outfits in Nagaland and Manipur, most of which have a bearing on one another.
Manipur is stridently opposed to any settlement with Naga rebels that could affect its territorial integrity in line with the NSCN’s demand for integration of the Naga areas of Manipur.
The Kukis are already in a truce with the Centre and if a settlement is reached with the Nagas without disturbing Manipur, it would bode well for the region, a senior officer in Nagaland said.
Ethnic tensions exist between the Meiteis, Kukis and the Nagas, a problem about which the Prime Minister has also expressed concern.
The delicate situation has prompted meetings, which included national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, in the past two months, sources said.
In New Delhi, however, views are divided on what could be achieved, as options are laid on the table. Interlocutor R.S. Pandey has met Swu and Muivah twice since they arrived in the capital last month. The NSCN and the Centre have been negotiating for 16 years.
Some feel the problem is “intractable” as Muivah is adamant about including the Naga-dominated hill districts of Manipur in Greater Nagalim while Ibobi Singh is firm on territorial integrity.
Ibobi Singh has held several parleys this year with Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who suggested that a “give and take” attitude on part of Manipur could help.
“However, the Centre is not in a position to prevail upon the Manipur chief minister,” a home ministry source said.
Observers feel the Centre could try for a breakthrough since the NSCN is under increasing public pressure. Protests by Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation, an outfit that opposes “excessive” extortion, have put the outfit on a back foot. As a result, the NSCN has apparently put off collection of “taxes” in Dimapur, the sources said.