Assam CM meets core committee members of Naga peace talks

Assam Chief Minister and convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday held a meeting with the members of core committee on the Naga political issues.

The vital meeting of the core committee on Naga political issues, which includes Chief Minister Neiphu Rio and ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Chairman T.R. Zeliang, held at Chumukeidma in Dimapur, Nagaland’s main commercial city amidst a stalemate between the central government and the NSCN-IM over the contentious issue of separate flag and constitution.

After more than an hour-long meeting, neither Sharma nor other leaders spoke to the media and disclosed anything about the outcome of the meeting.

A senior Naga leader on condition of anonymity said that the core committee members have sought Sarma’s support in solving the Naga political issue at the earliest.

“His (Sarma) active role is vital to take forward the talks in the right direction,” the Naga leader said. The core committee or parliamentary committee on Naga political issues comprises all the 60 Members of the Nagaland Assembly and two Members of Parliament.

Sarma, who is very close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, earlier in September last year held meetings with the core committee members including Nagaland Chief Minister and government representative on the Naga political issue A.K. Mishra, former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau.

Rio along with other members of the core committee on Naga political issue met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in April in New Delhi and urged the Union Government to expedite the peace talks. Mishra then visited headquarters of NSCN-IM camp Hebron (near Dimapur) and held discussion with Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of NSCN-IM in April and many other Naga leaders and Chief Minister.

The Assam Chief Minister on Wednesday said in Guwahati that the Naga political issue is a complex issue and must be left to the Government of India and the NSCN-IM and all others must refrain from commenting on this issue.

“The Naga political issue has been there since the independence of India. The Government of India and Naga leaders are talking to the extent that durable and sustainable peace should be established in Nagaland,” Sharma said.

The NSCN-IM on Wednesday accused the Central government’s representative for peace talks for “giving wrong interpretation in order to confuse the common people”.

“But the representatives of the government of India have started giving wrong interpretations in order to confuse the common people. We too feel apprehensive about the clandestine plot of imposing another accord on the Nagas or hijacking the issue through their surrogates,” a NSCN-IM statement said without naming Mishra.

After sharp open differences between then central interlocutor and Nagaland Governor, R.N. Ravi, who had on a number of occasions rejected the NSCN-IM’s demands of a Naga national flag and Naga Constitution, the Centre had appointed Mishra in his place.

The NSCN-IM’s repeated insistence on a separate Naga flag and Constitution have become a big hurdle in the way of resolving the Naga issue.

The election to the 60-member Nagaland assembly is expected to be held in February-March next year and all the political parties and the state government are keen to resolve the much expected issue before the polls.

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