India to invite all NSCN factions

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NEW DELHI, May 15 (VISION COMMUNICATIONS): Even as the Government of India has resolved to invite all three factions of the underground National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) before signing any settlement agreement this time, the NSCN (Issac-Muivah) group has already issued a statement accusing the Khole-Kitovi group for “sabotaging their 14 years long hard earned peace talks with the Government of India.”

The IM faction did not appreciate the Khole-Kitovi group’s “hobnobbing with the Government of India” and their initiative for a fresh political dialogue with the latter. The IM faction in a statement also threatened to boycott the forthcoming Reconciliation meeting to be held in Thailand’s Chiang Mai on May 21.

However, a senior official in the Government told the Vision Communications that NSCN top two leaders General Secretary Th Muivah and Chairman Issac Chishi Swu have not renewed their passports. This apparently is the actual reason for the duo not going to Chiang Mai for the reconciliation meeting.

But putting all speculations at rest, the Government of India has decided to go ahead and invite all three NSCN groups including the Myanmar based S S Khaplang faction for peace talks but no time frame has been drawn. In fact, this decision was already conveyed to the Issac-Muivah group by the Government of India.

Disclosing this to The Vision Communications the Joint Secretary (North East), Ministry of Home Affairs, Shambhu Singh said, “Ground reality in Nagaland is that there are three major NSCN groups. If we don’t take all three factions into confidence, no agreement is going to succeed. So, we might have to open our doors to other groups as well. If all three are not on board, it will be a futile exercise to reach an agreement with one group. However, first we will see how far we have progressed with the Muivah group and then probably take a call”.

On the issue of Khaplang faction signing a ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar Government, Singh observed, “Khaplang is a Myanmarese citizen and he has every right to sign a ceasefire agreement with Myanmar. We have Indian elements in the Khaplang group. We have also extended the ceasefire agreement with the Khaplang group for one more year. We can’t be seen discriminating or showing favour to one faction and disfavor to another. They should be treated at par.”

However, Singh pointed out that the signing of the ceasefire agreement between Khaplang faction and the Myanmar government and its possible fallout was taken up at the ‘appropriate level’.

This issue also figured prominently at the just concluded Indo-Myanmar border management meeting held at the 57 Mountain Division Headquarter at Leimakhong in Manipur on May 8.

The Myanmar delegation apparently sidestepped the ceasefire agreement issue stating that it must have been inked with the civil administration at Naypitaw.

The agreement was signed on April 9 at Hkamti town at the Khaplang’s domain. Six-member team from NSCN (K) Chairman S S Khaplang’s group led by Y Wangtin Naga and another six-member delegation from the Government of Myanmar headed by the Minister for Border Area Development, Colonel Kyiniang signed the ceasefire document.

Meanwhile, on the issue of possible peace talks with NSCN (Khole-Kitovi), Shambhu Singh said that “Nothing concrete has emerged so far. No date has been fixed yet. We feel that there is going to be a proposal for starting talks with the Kitovi faction in the near future”.

Regarding the report of Kitovi faction opposed to laying down arms unless a settlement is reached, Singh reacted, “They have to deposit their weapons, if they want a settlement with the Government of India. In the entire country there is only one law. One can keep arms after acquiring a license. Otherwise, it is illegal to keep unlicensed arms. And we will uphold the law of the land at any cost.”

Reacting to the Government of India’s stand on this contentious issue, leader of Khaplang group and the Ceasefire Supervisory Board Supervisor Lincoln told the Vision Communications from Kohima on phone that “As and when Government of India invite us, we will make a statement. Baba Khaplang is very serious to start a political dialogue to resolve the issue once and for all”.

The Khole faction General Secretary, Kitovi N Zhimomi, it appears, is not very excited about the invitation to Khaplang group for talks. However, he maintained, “We have already asked the Government of India to start political dialogue with us. We will be happy to participate as and when we are invited”.

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