The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) on Thursday rejected charges of any link with Pakistan-based Islamic terror outfits like the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HuJI).
"The NSCN has (had) no relation at all with HuJI or any terrorist organization at any point of time," an NSCN-IM statement said.
The separatist group was reacting to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio's allegation that the NSCN-IM has been maintaining links with extremist groups such as HuJI and other criminal elements.
Rio said this at the chief ministers' meeting on internal security in New Delhi on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The chief minister said: "It is emerging that the NSCN-IM has some active Muslim members in their ranks who play a major role in the group's extortion drive. Such operatives are in contact with one 'Lieutenant' Halal Uddin from NSCN-IM armed wing and one Azad alias Robin from the civil wing."
The rebel group, in its release, said: "He (chief minister) must substantiate his wild allegations against the NSCN of having clandestine relation with HuJI."
"Their motive is to falsely implicate the NSCN as a terrorist organization in the eye of the world," the statement said.
The NSCN-IM, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, had entered into a ceasefire with New Delhi in August, 1997.
The two sides have since held at least 55 rounds of peace talks aimed at ending one of South Asia's longest running insurgencies that claimed an estimated 25,000 lives since India attained independence in 1947.
The NSCN-IM is one of the oldest and most powerful of about 30 rebel groups in India's northeast and sought to create a Greater Nagaland by slicing off parts of neighbouring states that have Naga tribal populations.
The three regional governments of Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh have already rejected the NSCN-IM's demand for unification of Naga-dominated areas. New Delhi, too, has rejected demands for unification of all Naga-inhabited areas.