|Interview Vol. 3 Issue No. 21||February 7 - 21, 2005|
''We are here to find a negotiated settlement of the vexed issue”: Muivah Reiterating that the NSCN (IM) favoured a negotiated settlement to the protracted Naga issue, its General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said mutual understanding and appreciation between the Centre and the outfit was imperative to resolve the decades-old insurgency.
''To find a lasting solution to the five-decade-old problem, it is imperative that the two sides appreciate each other's positions and difficulties,'' he said.
''We are here for peace talks to find a negotiated settlement of the vexed issue because we understand and appreciate the Centre's difficulties. It is now time for New Delhi to reciprocate our gesture and understand our stand.'' Mr Muivah along with NSCN(IM) Chairman Isak Chisi Swu, is here to hold political-level dialogue with the Centre.''Unless the Centre appreciates the Naga cause and our position it would be difficult to continue the ongoing dialogue to settle the vexed issue,'' he said.
Observing that there has a been change in New Delhi's stand ever since insurgency began five decades back, Mr Muivah said in the earlier times the Centre wanted to crush the movement without even trying to understand the issue.''However, the Centre has now recognised the uniqueness of Naga problem and history and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that his government would work towards finding a honourable and acceptable solution through peaceful means.''
Mr Swu and Mr Muivah are expected to stay here for a fortnight to hold political dialogue with a team of Central Ministers. The rebel outfit has so far been holding talks with Centre's interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah at various foreign locations. The leaders who arrived in India in December left for Nagaland after spending a week here during which they met top Indian leadership.
No substantive issues were discussed during their meetings with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his ministerial colleagues in 2003 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and members of his cabinet in December.The Ministerial team will be headed by Minister of State (Independent Charge) Programme and Statistics Implementation Oscar Fernandes and comprises Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chauhan and Minister of State for Home K Reghupathy. They would be assisted in their deliberations by Mr Padmanabhaiah.
Lamenting that the Centre is yet to fully appreciate the Naga history and their cause Mr Muivah said any attempt to resolve the issue by appeasing the Assamese, Meitis or Arunachalese would be futile.''Our stand is clear. The Nagas are not occupying anybody else's territory. They have been staying in such areas (whether in Manipur or Assam or Arunachal) from time immemorial. We are not claiming any territory which is not ours. First the British divided us and then the Central government. It is our right to stay under one administrative unit.''
The NSCN(IM)'s key demand for the creation of 'Greater Nagaland' or Nagalim comprising Nagaland and contiguous Naga inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh continues to be the biggest roadblock in the successful conclusion of seven-year-old peace talks. These North-Eastern states have threatened agitations even if an inch of their territory is divided.
The Centre is considering various proposals in lieu of their demand but the outfit is intransigent on the issue despite progress on less controversial issues.''The Centre must recognise the legitimate demand of the Nagas as no solution is possible if Nagas remain divided,'' the Naga leader said, adding, ''we decided to come to India to negotiate despite our sentiments being hurt... we have moved away from the past and seek an honourable settlement which appreciates our history.''
On their demand for a ''sovereign Nagaland'', he said, ''Nagas are supreme in Nagaland. It is for them to decide whether they favour a sovereign Nagaland or a special relationship with India.''
''We have been given the mandate by the Nagas during the consultative meeting at Hebron camp in Nagaland last month to go ahead with our struggle for the cause. The support we got was unprecedented. People from all walks of life participated and we got a better opportunity to understand them.''On the need for unity among the various Naga tribes to arrive at a consensus, the NSCN (IM) General Secretary claimed the Nagas were united for the common cause and solidly behind the group.
However, he ruled out any
unity between the NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) or Naga National Council. ''NSCN
(K) has betrayed the Naga cause time and again by hobnobbing with our
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