Muivah in Netherlands, Naga talks outside India yet again

October 16th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghKohima, Oct 16 (IANS) The setting of the deadlocked Naga peace talks has moved out of India yet again with frontline separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah leaving the country after nearly a year and arriving in the Netherlands earlier this month, rebel leaders said Thursday.More than 60 rounds of talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) have not succeeded in resolving the decades-old conflict and the next round of dialogue will be held in The Hague later this month.

“Our general secretary Muivah had to leave India for the Netherlands because he has to brief global NGO leaders and others on the peace process. We are still keeping our hopes alive,” an NSCN-IM leader in Camp Hebron, the group’s headquarters in Nagaland, said on condition of anonymity.

Ever since the rebel group signed a ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 1997, talks between the two sides have been held in places like Paris, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai, Zurich, Davos and New Delhi.

The NSCN-IM initially talked about a sovereign Nagaland but later stuck to a loose concept that envisaged unification of all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast with the existing Nagaland state. The possible ceding of territory has been opposed by all the states adjoining Nagaland like Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The fact that the Naga peace talks have not progressed well was reflected in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Sep 17 address to state governors where he said: “In Nagaland, the fighting between two factions of the NSCN has led to increased killings. Talks with the NSCN-IM have not made any significant progress…”

Analysts feel that NSCN-IM general secretary Muivah may have decided to leave India and join his chairperson, Isak Chishi Swu, who had sneaked out in October last year, because of increased frustration about the outcome of the talks.

“Muivah may have got the feeling that New Delhi was not going to accept their demands in their present form. Sovereignty for Nagaland is out of question, the government is also not prepared to redraw the map of Nagaland or the northeast for that matter,” said Wasbir Hussain, director of the Guwahati-based Centre for Development and Peace Studies, a think tank.

The government, observers say, may be willing to give the Nagas a good autonomy package, but the challenge before New Delhi is to reach a decision on whether signing a peace deal with the NSCN-IM will bring peace to the Naga areas. This is because other groups like the Khaplang faction of the NSCN and a few other splinter factions also hold sway in certain areas.

New Delhi has not given up hope and is getting ready for the next round of talks. Union minister Oscar Fernandes and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chauhan are set to attend the talks in The Hague along with the government’s interlocutor K. Padmanabhaiah.

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