Naga talks: Meeting held in Guwahati, Centre extends ceasefire

Ahead of the meeting with the central government, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio and other members of the core committee on the Naga political issue held a meeting in Guwahati on Wednesday. Also, the Centre on Wednesday further extended the ‘Ceasefire Agreement’ for another year with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (K) Niki group, which is one of the eight Naga outfits including the dominant Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM).

The ‘Ceasefire Agreement’ was first signed with the NSCN-IM in 1997 and in the subsequent years it was extended with the seven other Naga outfits.

In Guwahati, a senior official said that the Nagaland Chief Minister accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton and other core committee members arrived in Guwahati on Wednesday afternoon and held the meeting with the Assam Chief Minister Sarma, who is also the convener of the BJP-led anti-Congress alliance of regional parties — North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the northeast unit of the NDA.

“After the meeting, Nagaland Chief Minister and other core committee members left Guwahati for New Delhi to hold meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central leaders,” a senior official told IANS, refusing to be named.

Rio earlier asserted that the NSCN-IM and the Centre’s representative A.K. Mishra would hold discussions to resolve the Naga political issues. “I am hopeful that the Central government, the NSCN-IM and all other stakeholders would soon resolve all aspects relating to the protracted Naga political issues,” said Rio, who is also the top leader of the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP).

Mishra during his three visits in Nagaland since last year met the Chief Minister, leaders of the NSCN-IM, Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), core committee on Naga political issues as well as the Naga civil society and discussed the peace talks.

Mishra, during his first visit to Nagaland in September last year, also discussed the Naga issue with Assam Chief Minister Sarma.

The Centre has been separately holding peace talks with the NSCN-IM and other Naga groups, which came together a few years ago under the banner of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs). Since 1997, the Government has held more than 85 rounds of negotiations with the NSCN (IM) and other Naga groups.However, the NSCN-IM’s insistence on a separate Naga flag and Constitution have become big hurdles.

The former government interlocutor and then Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who is now holding the gubernatorial post in Tamil Nadu, had rejected these demands on a number of occasions. The ruling parties in Nagaland, all other Naga bodies and Civil Society Organisations are making all out efforts to resolve the Naga political issue before the next assembly elections, expected to be held in February next year.

The BJP, the NDPP, into which the Naga People’s Front merged earlier, had formed the opposition-less all-party United Democratic Alliance (UDA) government, to take forward the Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga outfits and various other groups,The NDPP is the dominant party of the ruling alliance in Nagaland with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has 12 MLAs, as one of the important constituents.

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