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Pandey exit delays talks with NSCN

- Outfit awaits next interlocutor

Kohima, Dec. 20: Formal talks between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) have been delayed because of the sudden resignation of the Centre’s interlocutor, R.S. Pandey.

An NSCN insider said the formal meeting between the Centre and the NSCN, led by chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, tentatively fixed on December 17, could not be held as R.S. Pandey, who was also a former chief secretary of Nagaland, resigned. Pandey has recently joined the BJP to contest the next Lok Sabha elections.

The source said R.K. Singh, former Union home secretary, is likely to replace Pandey as the Centre’s interlocutor.

The NSCN source said the delegation would return to Nagaland until the Centre appoints the Prime Minister’s emissary to the Naga peace process. “There may not be any formal talks as of now because of the resignation of R.S. Pandey,” the source said.

The Centre and the NSCN (I-M) have been discussing the “pan-Naga” issue without compromising key issues like integration of contiguous Naga areas and sovereignty. The group had also stressed the federal relationship with the Centre.

The NSCN (I-M) rebutted the Union home ministry’s statement that the former has compromised integration and sovereignty. Joint secretary in the Union home ministry Shambhu Singh said the outfit had dropped the demand of integration and sovereignty and that the ongoing peace process has not gone as expected.

The outfit, however, had rubbished Singh’s statement and claimed that the peace process was heading in the right direction.

Over 80 rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M).

The source said formal talks could begin only after the appointment of the Centre’s interlocutor.

The outfit said after consultation with various constitutional experts from different parts of the world, keeping in mind the global political and economic scenarios, understanding and appreciating the difficulties of India, and also keeping in mind the historical and political rights of the Nagas, a workable draft proposal was formulated and submitted to the Centre.

At present, the outfit said it is awaiting the reply from the Centre. “We have come this far in our struggle for self-determination and I believe we are close but the battle is not yet won and we still have miles to go. Our movement has always been a people-based one and it will continue to be so,” Swu said in his Christmas greetings to the people.