The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Now or never in Naga talks
- Without extension, truce lapses today

Kohima, July 30: The Naga community’s restiveness over the long-drawn dialogue between Delhi and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) will be weighing on the minds of negotiators from both sides when they resume the unfinished business of breaking the deadlock in Dimapur tomorrow.

The talks will coincide with a rally convened by the powerful Naga Hoho, the apex organisation of all Naga tribes, in the same town.

Hoho vice-president Keviletuo Keiwho said today that several Naga organisations would participate in the rally, organised in association with the Naga Council of Dimapur, Naga Women's Hoho, Western Sumi Hoho and the Dimapur unit of the Naga Students’ Federation.

“The rally has been organised to appeal to the government of India and the NSCN (I-M) to expedite the political negotiations and find a peaceful solution to the protracted Indo-Naga political problem without further procrastination,” Keiwho said.

The use of the word “procrastination” could not be more appropriate for a peace process that has yielded little in the decade since the ceasefire took effect.

Officials of the state government and representatives of the NSCN (I-M) met here on the eve of the Dimapur round of talks but neither side was willing to reveal what transpired at the meeting.

A source said the discussions centred on security arrangements for tomorrow’s talks, to be held at Dimapur Circuit House.

As usual, Union minister Oscar Fernandez will lead the central team, which will include interlocutor K. Padmanabhaiah and several top officials from the Union home ministry and intelligence agencies. The NSCN (I-M) delegation will have chairman Isak Chishi Swu, general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and their aides.

Security has been beefed up in and around Dimapur to prevent subversive acts by “forces inimical to the talks”, a police officer said.

Dimapur has of late witnessed several incidents involving the Khaplang faction of the NSCN. Tension gripped Tuensang, about 300 km from here, even today when at least 150 members of NSCN (K) took up position on the outskirts of the town to expel rival militants who have been based there. Phungthing Shimrang, a senior functionary of the NSCN (I-M), said his men were ready to repulse a possible onslaught. He accused the Assam Rifles of sheltering the rival group.

“But how long will they remain under the protection of Assam Rifles'” Shimrang asked.

The NSCN (I-M) leadership could raise Khaplang’s name at tomorrow’s meeting, but the focus will undoubtedly be on seeking a commitment from Delhi to acknowledge the Naga community’s aspirations.

Sources in the NSCN (I-M) said extension of the truce would depend on the government’s response.

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