The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NSCN-IM top guns put off visit

New Delhi, Jan. 31: The Thailand-based top leaders of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) have postponed their visit to Delhi because of the Lok Sabha election and Centre’s guarded approach on their demand for Greater Nagalim.

The chairman of the organisation, Isak Chisi Swu, and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah have reportedly stuck to their guns on their demand for one administrative unit for the Nagas, which the Centre has been non-committal about. The Naga insurgent leaders had raised this demand in all the four rounds of negotiations held last year.

They said a meaningful discussion on other substantive issues relating to sharing of power could be held after the Centre recognises the Nagas’ desire to live under one administrative set-up.

Another hurdle to their visit is the approaching polls. As the talks are expected to stretch over several days, it is highly unlikely that political leaders can devote much time to the Naga leaders.

With the flare-up in the Imphal Valley three years ago still fresh in public memory, the NDA government was unwilling to make any commitment to the Naga leaders on their demand for Greater Nagalim and would loathe taking any step that could harm its poll prospects in the Northeast.

The demand for Greater Nagalim envisages dividing Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and all the three states have voiced their opposition in no uncertain terms.

The proposal for a solution within Manipur or giving statutory power to Naga Hoho, the apex organisation of all Naga tribes, over all Nagas have been rejected. What has made matters complicated is the statement by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Kohima that there is no consensus on the creation of Greater Nagalim.

Wrapping up his maiden visit to Nagaland in October last year, Vajpayee told the media at Raj Bhavan that state boundaries could be changed only by evolving a political consensus. “At present, there is no political consensus in changing the boundaries,” he said.

Maintaining that the talks held last week in Bangkok had passed off smoothly, Union home ministry sources said nothing important could be transpired once the Parliament is dissolved. “That precisely is the main reason why the leaders have postponed the visit. The issue of Greater Nagalim had also cropped up as in the previous rounds,” one of them said.

After Delhi, the NSCN leaders’ next port of call would have been Kohima. They had agreed to spend time in Nagaland and assess the mood of the people provided Delhi took some steps on their core demands.

When Muivah and Swu came to Delhi last year, the general impression was that talks on the substantive issues would begin after the election in Nagaland. However, the dialogues are yet to begin despite the installation of a pro-peace government in Kohima.

The increasing support for bringing all Nagas within a single dominion was reflected by the Nagaland Assembly’s recent resolution, followed by the formation of an all-party committee to negotiate with the neighbouring states.

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