In a significant development that could have a bearing on the peace talks in Nagaland and the assembly polls in Manipur in March, NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuigaleng Muivah called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday and expressed a desire to also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Details of the 30-minute meeting that took place at Muivah’s behest were not available. Nor was any Congress leader ready to come on record about it.
But Muivah is believed to have raised concerns about the attack on NSCN-IM cadres in Nagaland by rival groups like the Khaplang faction of NSCN and NPP that once dominated the Naga movement but turned defunct before its recent resurrection.
Sources said Muivah also asked Union Minister Oscar Fernandes, the Centre’s pointsman for the Naga talks, for a meeting with the PM but got no assurance in this regard.
The NSCN leader is leaving Delhi on Monday. He is slated to go to Nagaland to join NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chisi Swu. The two leaders are expected to stay in India for about two months.
Muivah’s meetings with political leaders could have an impact on the Manipur elections since Naga tribes dominate four hill districts of the state. The NSCN-IM wants the integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with Nagaland.
The NSCN-IM and the Centre have held several rounds of talks since 1997 when a ceasefire was agreed on. Initially the truce was renewed for one year till July 2005. This was again extended for another six months in February last year. Following talks in Bangkok last year, the two sides agreed to extend the truce by another year.