The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NSCN claims Naga mandate

Camp Hebron (Dimapur), Jan. 21: The NSCN (I-M)'s demand for integration of Naga-inhabited areas took on a wider dimension today, with the outfit declaring that it had the 'mandate' of the people.

Speaking to mediapersons here after the concluding session of the outfit's consultative meet, rebel leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah once again reiterated their stand on integration.

'The solution cannot be within the Indian Constitution,' declared Swu. He had said yesterday that a solution is 'unthinkable' without integration.

But Delhi is yet to agree in principle to the demand of integration, disclosed general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah. 'We are yet to begin talks on that but they will have to agree,' he said.

The leaders issued a declaration after interactive sessions with over 6,000 people, encompassing two days.

Stating that unification of Naga areas was a legitimate and non-negotiable demand, it also asserted that a political solution should be found through peaceful means. The declaration began by saying that it was being made after two days of 'intensive, sincere and honest interaction with the collective leadership'.

Furthermore, the declaration said the people supported an honourable solution on the basis of the uniqueness of the Naga history and situation.

Muivah answered with an emphatic 'yes' when asked if the gathering was representative of the entire Naga population. But he did say the opinion did not include the stand of the Naga National Council and the Khaplang faction of the NSCN.

The NSCN (I-M) leaders appeared more confident about themselves and their demands after the two-day meet. The declaration, passed in the last session today, will be submitted as their point of view to the Centre early next month.

Swu and Muivah will leave for New Delhi in the last week of this month. 'They will return here after the talks,' said V.S. Atem, the outfit's emissary. Though he denied that there was any deadline for resolving the problem, Muivah also said they were trying to reach a solution 'as soon as possible'.

Earlier, a mass prayer was held, in which members of the large audience stood up and prayed on their own, with tears rolling down many cheeks. Both rebel leaders quoted extensively from the Bible to buttress their standpoint.

Atem gave the vote of thanks, saying that the outfit would 'fight to the finish', adding to Muivah's statement earlier that the NSCN (I-M) would never fail the Nagas.

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