The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blow to Naga unity exercise

Kohima, July 22: The process of uniting warring Naga groups suffered a setback last night with members of the Naga Hoho-constituted Reconciliation Commission resigning en masse in protest against the apex tribal council’s decision to keep the panel “in abeyance”.

The Naga Hoho had formed the commission in the hope of bringing together disparate groups, only to be snubbed by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah). The insurgent outfit objected to the inclusion of two Naga leaders in the panel, saying their credibility was questionable.

All members of the commission unanimously decided to put in their papers after the Naga Hoho’s federal assembly, held here on July 18, announced that the unity campaign would continue without the involvement of the recently-constituted commission. The tribal council is believed to have done so to appease the NSCN (I-M).

The commission included social activist Niketu Iralu, journalist Charles Chasie and Church leaders V.K. Nuh, L. Kari Longchar, Shiwoto Sumi, Tuisem A. Shishak and Wati Aier.

In a joint statement last night, the seven members said: “As the Naga Hoho federal assembly, on July 18, independently decided to keep the commission in abeyance, we the members of the Reconciliation Commission have decided to resign en bloc.”

Instead of uniting warring groups, the commission has been bogged by controversy from the day it was constituted. The NSCN (I-M) specifically objected to the Naga Hoho’s choice of leaders for the posts of chairman and secretary.

Chasie said the Naga Hoho did not consult the Nagaland Christian Forum, which had a hand in the panel’s constitution, even once before deciding to keep it on hold. “Now that the Hoho has put the commission in cold storage, we only have our dignity to preserve,” he said.

Another member said he saw no reason to hang on any longer. “We are going on a holiday,” he added.

The Nagaland Christian Forum plans to seek a clarification from the Naga Hoho.

In the Assembly, the Congress today demanded a clarification from chief minister Neiphiu Rio on his government’s stand on Delhi’s proposal to give statutory powers to the Naga Hoho.

There was pandemonium after the chief minister claimed the Centre had made no such proposal. The leader of the Opposition, I. Imkong, accused Rio of trying to mislead the House, while Congress legislator K.V. Pusa demanded to know exactly what he meant when he hailed Delhi’s move as a big step forward. “If there was no proposal, what was the chief minister welcoming'” he asked.

Rio, who had reportedly made the statement at a news conference in New Delhi, said he was actually referring to attempts to “strengthen the Hoho”.

He claimed to have information on a conspiracy by a section of legislators to weaken the tribal council.

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