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NSCN (I-M) firm on sovereignty

NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah and chairman Isak Chishi Swu. (File)
Published on 1 Mar. 2010 1:10 AM IST
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: Ahead of the peace talks, the NSCN (I-M) today made it clear that it has not withdrawn its key demand of sovereignty for Nagaland and blamed the Central government for the delay in finding a solution to the six-decades-old Naga problem. “It is pretty long time that we have been talking to government of India and it is high time that the government should take the matter seriously. In more than 10 years, they could not solve the problem so they are responsible for that,” NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said. Asked whether NSCN (I-M) had withdrawn the demand for sovereignty for Nagaland, Muivah, who came here last night from Amsterdam for peace talks with the government, said it cannot be withdrawn as it is the people who should decide their fate. “No, sovereignty cannot be withdrawn because sovereignty is with the people. It is the people who should decide their fate and that cannot withdrawn but the question is how to understand, how are we going to understand Government of India or it should understand us. This is the problem,” he said. Addressing Naga students in Delhi, Muivah said the the NSCN (I-M) won’t budge from its demand of “freedom”. “We won’t give up our right to freedom. Sorry, we cannot withdraw that,” he said. The Naga rebel leader said he has come for the peace talks as he was invited by Prime Minister Manmhoan Singh himself and he thought that the Prime Minister was serious in solving the problem. Asked how optimistic he was about the talks, he said, “We have been told that the government of India has arranged some counter-proposals from their side. I don’t know how far that is practicable or acceptable to us.” On the appointment of a new interlocutor for Naga talks (former Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey), Muivah said, “He would be a good man. He must be enjoying the confidence of the Government of India but he has to prove himself.” Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai had yesterday had said that demands like sovereignty or integration of Naga-inhabited areas was not feasible. The top Naga rebel leader, who is based in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, is likely to call on the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram. Ahead of meetings with political leadership, the Naga leader will hold talks with Pandey on March two and three, official sources said. Muivah is also expected to visit Nagaland besides addressing the issue of clashes between the cadres of NSCN (I-M) and its rival NSCN (Khaplang), which resulted in unrest in the recent past. Other NSCN (I-M) leaders who are in Delhi Sunday said they were optimistic about the renewed peace talks with the government to begin Tuesday but would not compromise on their demand for an independent state in northeastern India. “We are hopeful, very optimistic...but no compromise on our right to sovereignty. We have not given up and will never give up the demand for our independence,” NSCN (I-M) leader V.S. Atem told IANS. “Sovereignty is our right, an inalienable right. History, geography and culture of the Nagas justify it,” said Atem, who was on his way to Delhi to join the NSCN-IM delegation for talks. A government official, pleading anonymity as he is not authorised to speak, told IANS that the government was “serious to end the deadlock over talks and will give a momentum to the peace process”. “The government may announce an economic autonomy for Nagas,” the official said. Atem reacted sharply: “We have not been fighting for any economic autonomy. Our stand is well known.” He said the government of India was to blame for the deadlocked talks. The NSCN (I-M)’s demand for a “Greater Nagaland” would unite over 1.2 million Nagas in NE. But the demand has been strongly opposed by the neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Swu, Muivah arrive Delhi DIMAPUR, FEB 28 (NPN): NSCN (I-M) chairman, Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah arrived New Delhi Saturday at around 11: 30 p.m to resume talks with the government of India on the Naga political issue. The collective leadership was given a warm reception by the Nagas living in Delhi at 61 Lodi Estate, Lodi Road. Over 1000 people attended the reception programme. During the programme, Naga Students’ Union, Delhi (NSUD) president, Luikang Lamak delivered the welcome address followed by shawl presentation to the collective leadership by the Eastern Nagaland Students’ Union, Delhi. According to Naga Times, the collective leadership delivered an awe-inspiring message to the audience. Documentary films - ‘Nagalim: Pilgrims for Peace’ by Sam Kalayanee and ‘Naga Story: The Other Side of Silence’ by Gopal Menon were shown before dinner.

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