The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NSCN-K banks on tribal rift

Kohima/New Delhi, Jan. 5: Contrasting pictures of the Naga peace process emerged from the rival NSCN camps today with the Isak-Muivah faction bemoaning nearly 10 years of a fruitless dialogue with Delhi and the Khaplang group talking about a solution “in six months at the most”.

As NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah lobbied with the political leadership in New Delhi to push forward the stalled talks, his colleague Isak Chishi Swu said in Nagaland that intervention by the United Nations was possibly the only way out of the labyrinth.

Swu, who arrived almost unannounced at the NSCN (I-M) council headquarters near Dimapur on the night of January 3, admitted that there has been no breakthrough in the peace process since talks began almost a decade ago.

“The government of India has acknowledged the uniqueness of the Nagas but not translated its promise into reality,” the NSCN (I-M) chairman said.

The Naga leader said the NSCN (I-M) had already requested the United Nations to intervene and sought an appointment with the new secretary-general of the global organisation, Ban Ki-moon, to brief him on the situation.

Striking a philosophical tone, he said “sovereignty” — an allusion to the “greater Nagaland” dream — was neither in the hands of the Naga people nor in the hands of India, China or the UN. “If we repent and surrender to God, he will bless us with what rightfully belongs to us.”

Swu said he was back in the state to consult the Naga leadership on some issues and impart “political, religious and revolutionary education” to the outfit’s cadre. Swu and Muivah’s wives, Uster Chishi Swu and Ikris Muivah, are also in Nagaland. Just as the NSCN (I-M) sprang a surprise through Swu’s visit to Nagaland via Bangladesh, the NSCN (Khaplang) unexpectedly appeared gung-ho about the prospects of peace returning to Nagaland.

Kughalu Mulatonu, chaplee kilonser (finance minister) in the NSCN (K) hierarchy, said peace would return between two and six months.

He said talks between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre would fail, creating a division in the ranks of the rival group on tribal lines. This, he claimed, would pave the way for peace. Plagued by insurgency for more than half-a-century, Nagaland has witnessed an intense factional rivalry since 1988, when the original NSCN split. The NSCN was formed in 1980 after a section of the erstwhile Naga National Council rejected the Shillong Accord of 1975 with Delhi.

Mulatonu indicated that a rift between the Semas and the Tangkhul Nagas — Muivah belongs to the latter — would be the harbinger of peace.

The NSCN (K) has been engaged in a sustained campaign against the Tangkhul tribe, which dominates Ukhrul district of Manipur. Mulatonu said Tangkhuls would have to pay for what they did years ago to the Sema Nagas, but claimed that his outfit had never harmed Tangkhul students in Nagaland.

Muivah, who arrived in New Delhi from Amsterdam days before Christmas, may join Swu in Nagaland this month for consultations with other community leaders.

Many in Nagaland believe the NSCN (I-M) leaders are preparing to go “underground” because Delhi has been procrastinating on their demand for the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the region.

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