Talks at a sensitive stage: Chidambaram

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NEW DELHI, August 1  (Vision Communications): The ongoing peace talks between the NSCN (IM) leadership and the Government of India have reached a “sensitive stage” and efforts are on to iron out a long standing solution to over six decades old Naga political problem, observed the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in his last press conference as the Union Home Minister on Tuesday.

Soon after the crowded press conference Chidambaram resigned and took over the Finance portfolio. Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has become the new Home Minister in the UPA-II cabinet. The Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily has taken over the Power portfolio as an additional charge. This was announced in a press communiqué by the President’s House this evening.

Chidambaram replying to a question said that all the 60 legislators of the Nagaland Assembly belonging to all political parties in the state including the Congress are slated to reach Delhi in the first week of August to meet him and the Prime Minister in support of the ongoing peace talks.

Even the Naga Ho Ho, a respected body of the Naga people, expressed its satisfaction to the “progress report of the ongoing peace talks which are being handled with utmost care and sincerity by the Principal negotiators and the Government of India”, he added.

Chidambaram said that all the MLAs are coming to New Delhi on 6th and 7th August to meet the Home Minister and the Prime Minister to express their support for the peace talks. It can be mentioned here that on 19th July the Nagaland Legislative Forum decided to resign if required, for finding a solution to the ongoing peace talks.

Significantly, Mr Chidambaram yesterday made it clear that “first we will try to reach an agreement with the NSCN (IM). Only then we will talk with the other two groups provided they are willing to talk to. As everybody knows, one group live outside India.”

Chidambaram was obviously mentioning about the NSCN (Khaplang) faction which has been fighting from the Myanmar Naga inhabited area bordering India.

Regarding the possibility of an interim government taking representatives from NSCN factions Chidambaram cautioned, “Let’s not go too fast. Let’s complete the first step. Then we will think about the next step.”

Chidambaram who has just returned from his two-day Assam trip today, asserted that the main concern of the government now is to ensure “safe return of over four lakh refugees sheltered in 278 camps in the riot affected districts, to their villages. This task will be completed within next few days.”

Replying to a question he mentioned that the Bodo accord was signed neary a decade ago. If there is any need to review the accord, it can be discussed in a different forum. But there is a process for that. Now we are more concerned about the rehabilitation of the refugees to their own places with full security.

He also added, “We have drawn plan to set up police pickets in sensitive villages to avert any such ethnic clash in future.”

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