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Rio sees Sema tribe as binding factor

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By NISHIT DHOLABHAI in Pughoboto
  • Published 11.12.04
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Pughoboto, Dec. 11: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio today put the onus of uniting the Nagas on the Sema tribe to which National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) chairman Isak Chishi Swu belongs.

Stressing reconciliation among various Naga rebel factions, Rio said the Semas could bring about a consensus. The chief minister also offered to play the ?facilitator? to achieve unity among the Naga tribes. ?If the Semas are united, the Nagas will be united,? Rio told a large gathering here at a function held to celebrate 100 years of Christianity in the Sema tribal areas.

Semas have a strong presence among the NSCN (I-M) and the NSCN (Khaplang) factions of the NSCN. Though Khaplang himself is a Heimi Naga from Myanmar, his faction in Nagaland mainly comprises Semas.?Semas are the greatest warriors among the Nagas,? Rio said in his speech.

One of the major demands of the NSCN (I-M) ? integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas ? was not touched by the chief minister today unlike his yesterday?s appeal in Kohima in favour of the demand.

The Khaplang faction has been persistent on demanding sovereignty and opposing the demand of integration made by the rival group.

There has been opposition by a section of the Sema tribe to the visit of the NSCN (I-M) leaders. Recently, the Western Sumi Hoho had taken out a procession against the NSCN (I-M), accusing its activists of torturing and murdering a former rebel.

Pughoboto, the native area of Swu who was born at a nearby village called Chishilimi, has been a hotbed of inter-group rivalry for both the factions. The chief minister said the rebel leaders had a long meeting with him in Delhi.

Earlier, Rio was given a rousing reception by the people of the area and presented with a mithun (bison). A cultural festival followed the meeting at the local ground where hundreds gathered to watch the colourful programmes.