Naga talks in Amsterdam fail

The talks failed with the government rejecting demands for self-governance, a rebel leader said on Sunday.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2006 19:54 IST

Talks held in Amsterdam between Indian peace negotiators and a dominant tribal separatist group in the northeast failed with the government rejecting demands for self-governance, a rebel leader said on Sunday.

A group of senior Indian officials, led by Minister Oscar Fernandes and New Delhi's main peace interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah, ended three-days of talks on Thursday with leaders of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), the main rebel group in Nagaland.

"The government of India has failed to make their point explicitly clear on our demand for a special federal arrangement that allows us self-governance. Such insensitivity by New Delhi will jeopardise future peace initiatives," NSCN-IM spokesman Kraibo Chawang said.

The NSCN-IM, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, have proposed "a special federal arrangement" which enables Nagas to govern themselves.

There has been no official statement made by New Delhi after the Amsterdam talks.

"We want a special federal relationship with India where we have a separate Naga Constitution. It should be a federation of India and Nagalim (Greater Nagaland), although we would allow the international borders to be jointly guarded by Indian security forces and our soldiers so as not to jeopardise the security interests of India," Chawang said.

"Nothing concrete has materialised in the Amsterdam talks and we are disappointed."

The NSCN-IM has been struggling for nearly six decades to create a 'Greater Nagaland' by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas. The demand is strongly opposed by neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The NSCN-IM and the central government entered into a ceasefire in August 1997 which has been renewed regularly. The present ceasefire expires in June 2007.

"The government of India is trying to tire out the Nagas by dragging the peace process. It is more than nine years and the government does not have any clear agenda to solve the problem," the rebel leader said. "The Nagas are getting restless by the day."

India and the NSCN-IM have held more than 50 rounds of peace talks in the past nine years to end one of South Asia's longest-running insurgencies that has claimed around 25,000 lives since 1947.

First Published: Oct 22, 2006 19:54 IST