New Delhi, Jan. 11: After an hour-long discussion with defence minister George Fernandes, the NSCN (I-M) leaders today said there would be no more fighting between “Indians and Nagas”.
Though a ceasefire agreement has been in place in Nagaland since 1997 and today’s reiteration by NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chisi Swu is largely symbolic, its significance cannot be overlooked.
For the Naga leaders who have relentlessly fought the Indian Army, the statement shows a complete shift in mood and direction of the outfit.
“I want to tell you that there will be no more fighting between Indians and Nagas. That is the understanding we have reached now,” Swu told reporters outside the defence minister’s office.
“People of Nagaland have been praying that the leaderships of India and the NSCN (I-M) successfully conclude their talks,” he added. Swu looked happy and relaxed. For Swu, today was an auspicious day. It was his son’s 25th birthday.
Though substantive discussions between the NSCN (I-M) and the government have not formally started, the broad outlines have been explored.
Yesterday, secretary-general Thuingaleng Muivah had clearly said that one issue certainly was the assimilation of all Naga tribes into one administrative unit.
But this first meeting between the NSCN (I-M) and India’s top political leadership has got off to a very good start.
Much of the baggage from the past tortuous history of conflict has been shed. The Naga leaders have publicly praised the maturity of India’s current crop of leaders.
“Nagas have now a much better understanding with the people of India,” Swu said.
Muivah said: “Talks were very cordial and the response of Fernandes was very warm.”
Muivah and Swu have also been keen to send the right messages to the Indian people. Their first public engagement in India was to visit the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.
The signal was that the NSCN (I-M) has come in search of peace. The Naga leaders also called on Swaraj Kaushal this afternoon. Kaushal, a former Governor of Mizoram and a former representative of the Prime Minister to the Naga talks, had played an important role in breaking the stalemate.
Leaders of all political parties in Manipur have threatened to resign en masse from their parties if the Centre alters the state’s existing territorial boundary while striking a deal with the NSCN (I-M).
The warning was issued at an emergency meeting of the political parties, presided over by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, in Imphal today.
The leaders of all parties vowed to jointly oppose any move to disintegrate the state to adhere to the NSCN (I-M) demand for a “Greater Nagalim”, of Nagaland and Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and certain parts of Myanmar.