The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi Yuletide salve on NSCN
- Fernandez invites Muivah & co home

New Delhi, Dec. 24: Last Christmas, Union minister Oscar Fernandez and National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah had made up over cake and the minister’s signature tune on his harmonica. This year, apparently, requires more than that.

In 2005, the rendezvous was at a hotel in the Thai capital: this year it is Fernandez’s official residence on Pandit Pant Marg here. The event had attracted much media attention then as anxious moments dissolved over pastry and Christmas carols.

This year too, indications are that the Centre is compensating through festival diplomacy what it may not concede during the parleys.

Another round of talks in Amsterdam earlier this month failed to push things ahead. But, as wished by the Centre perpetually and committed by Muivah in 1997, the peace process will continue. That was seemingly the purpose of a Christmas eve meeting with the NSCN (I-M) that will also be a warm-up for the next meeting with the outfit in 2007.

“It will be an informal meeting to which we are invited and a few of us will go,” senior NSCN (I-M) leader Phunthing Shimrang said.

The labour minister’s home was decorated for the “informal Christmas meeting” that would almost be a family reunion a year after the cake was cut in Bangkok. “The house is decorated nicely and the cake has been ordered from someone known to Mrs Fernandez,” a source revealed.

Following the recent threat by the NSCN (Khaplang) group, the security of the NSCN (I-M) leader is top priority. And there is no let up in security either at Lodhi Estate where Muivah is staying, or at Gol Market near the minister’s residence.

The festival of reconciliation was sufficient salve for the outfit’s frayed nerves last year. However, the same spirit of reconciliation has eluded the NSCN rival groups.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio has assured to provide strict security when Muivah and outfit chairman Isak Chishi Swu visit the state next year.

“We are told they might come here together next year,” Rio told The Telegraph from Kohima. This would mean that the outfit preferred to wait for the “collective leadership” rather than risk a visit by Muivah alone — he had earlier planned to spend New Year’s day in Nagaland. Sources added that the group would change the location of its general headquarters from the camp at Hebron for security reasons.

The NSCN (I-M) will now hold consultative meetings with its supporters and people at large.

Muivah arrived in the capital this week after the expiry of his visa in the Netherlands. But he put the ball in the Prime Minister’s court by crediting the latter with inviting him. It was a veiled warning as well, telling Delhi that it better start talking in real terms so that the “issue does not go out of hand”.

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