Kohima, Jan. 18: The warring factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland are headed towards a reunification agreement after 16 years of feuding, giving the peace process a new spin.
The convener of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland’s consultative committee on peace today confirmed the development, saying just one meeting between the top leaders of the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang groups was required to bring about a reunification.
“Most hurdles in the way of reconciliation have been removed. The meeting between the top leaders (of the two NSCN factions) will be held at a neutral location,” I.K. Sema said.
The Naga Hoho and the Church have been at the forefront of the unity campaign since 2001. Both institutions acknowledge the Neiphiu Rio government’s help in taking the process forward.
Two top members of the NSCN (I-M), V.S. Atem and A.Z. Jami, were summoned by their “collective leadership” to Bangkok recently to review the progress of the reunification campaign. The duo is expected to return from Bangkok on Tuesday.
“We will know what decision has been taken only after they return,” Nagaland-based NSCN (I-M) leader Phunthing Shimrang said. He hoped “every development would be good”, but asked Nagas not to be “overoptimistic”.
NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah and chairman Isak Chisi Swu are expected to visit New Delhi next month for the second round of talks with the political leadership. Both leaders had come to India in January last year.
The NSCN is an offshoot of the Naga National Council (NNC), which was formed by the pioneer of the Naga movement, Angami Zapfu Phizo. The NNC split after the 1975 Shillong Accord, while Isak-Muivah and S.S. Khaplang parted ways in 1988.
The Khaplang group has been regrouping in Mon and Tuensang districts of Nagaland and adjacent Myanmar after a series of setbacks, including the mob attacks on its bases in Mokokchung town on August 24 last year.
A source said leaders of both factions were willing to “bury the past in the greater interest of Naga society”. But with Khaplang staying put in Myanmar, a meeting between him and leaders of the Isak-Muivah group has not yet been possible.
“A meeting was to be held this month, but had to be cancelled because of the health problems of a couple of militant leaders,” the source said.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph last year, Khaplang had expressed his willingness to sort out his differences with the NSCN (I-M). On January 3, top leaders of the NSCN (K) formally gave the green signal after a meeting.
The NSCN (I-M) recently condemned the Myanmar junta’s offensive against the Khaplang group, raising hopes of a reconciliation. Accusing the Indian army of complementing the offensive by Myanmar against the NSCN (K), the Isak-Muivah group said it could have an adverse effect on the peace process in Nagaland.