The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM backs Mizo CM as peace envoy

Kohima/Aizawl, June 22: The NSCN (Isak-Muivah) today resumed its dialogue with Delhi in Amsterdam amid reports back home that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had retained Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga’s services as an emissary, ignoring Nagaland Congress leader S.C. Jamir’s suggestion to replace him.

The NSCN (I-M)’s deputy kilonser (minister) of information and publicity said over phone from Dimapur that Jamir’s alleged attempts to mobilise opinion against the militant group might figure in the discussions over the next couple of days. “Apart from a review of the ground situation in Nagaland, the Jamir problem may be included in the agenda as the talks progress,” Kraibo Chawang said.

Jamir has been making his presence felt since the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government assumed office. He first sought replacements for Delhi’s interlocutor for the peace talks, former Union home secretary K. Padmanabhaiah, and occasional emissary Zoramthanga.

The former chief minister was again in the news when three NGOs blew the lid off a supposedly confidential Congress memorandum to Delhi, seeking steps to rein in the NSCN (I-M) if it continued to harp on sovereignty.

The Naga Mothers’ Association, the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights and the Naga Students’ Federation said the memorandum was designed to mislead the new government at the Centre. The Congress denied making any such attempt.

Congress Legislature Party leader I. Imkong said there was no question of advising Delhi to declare the NSCN (I-M) as a “terrorist group” when peace talks were in progress. “We have only asked the government to expedite the peace process, which has not yielded any result for seven years,” he said.

Two Nagaland-based NSCN (I-M) leaders, V.S. Atem and A.K. Lungalang, are in the Dutch capital for the current round of peace talks.

The militant group’s top leadership, chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, were supposed to visit New Delhi this month, but postponed the trip without citing any major reason.

On whether the subject of integration of all Naga-inhabited areas would be taken up at the Amsterdam meeting, Chawang said it was “one of the substantive issues” and would remain a priority.

He declined to comment on Padmanabhaiah’s role as Delhi’s interlocutor, except that the NSCN (I-M) had no objection to the Congress-led government persisting with him.

In Mizoram, the government issued a statement saying the Prime Minister had personally asked Zoramthanga to mediate between Delhi and the NSCN (I-M), as and when required. It said Singh said so when the chief minister met him at his official residence in New Delhi on Monday.

“I am inviting you to continue to talk to the Naga (I-M) rebels and we have every hope that you will succeed in your mission. We are pinning our hopes on you,” the release quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

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