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NSCN-IM threatens to call off ceasefire

The Centre and the outfit have held 45 rounds of peace talks since '97, aimed at ending insurgencies in the Northeast.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2005 11:46 IST
Syed Zarir Hussain (IANS)
Syed Zarir Hussain (IANS)

The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) on Saturday threatened to call off an eight-year-old ceasefire with New Delhi if its demands were not met by January, leaders of the guerrilla outfit said.

"There is no point in operating a ceasefire and holding talks without any solution in sight. If the central government fails to hammer out a solution within the tenure of the present ceasefire there would be no option but to probably call off the truce and fight back," RH Raising, a senior NSCN-IM leader, said.

The NSCN-IM and New Delhi entered into a ceasefire in August 1997, and the term of the ongoing truce expires on January 31 next year.

"We are still committed to resolving the problem through political negotiations but we cannot wait indefinitely. There is a limit to everything," said Raising, self-styled home minister of the rebel group.

The two sides have held at least 45 rounds of peace talks since 1997 aimed at ending one of the longest running insurgencies in the Northeast.

"People are getting increasingly restive and impatient and we do not see any seriousness on the part of New Delhi to solve the problem. The government of India is simply giving us assurances and commitments without trying to work out a tangible solution," NSCN-IM spokesman Kraibo Chawang said. The last round of talks between the NSCN and the central government peace negotiators ended in Bangkok last month.

"Fresh talks are due to begin later this month between our collective leadership and the central government and unless something positive emerges out of the deliberations there is no point in continuing with ceasefire," Raising said.

The NSCN-IM, led by guerrilla leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, is one of the oldest and most powerful of about 30 rebel groups in India's northeast and wants 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 rejected the NSCN-IM's demand for unification of Naga-dominated areas. Local rebel leaders were holding meetings across Nagaland to apprise the people about their decision to return to the jungles if the talks fail.

"We are holding mass consultations in every village and telling our people that we may have to fight again if our rights and aspirations are not recognized by New Delhi," Chawang said.

Community leaders and tribal chiefs are worried that Nagaland might again witness a cycle of violence if the NSCN-IM decides to pull out of the peace talks. "It would be a nail in the coffin if the peace talks break down at this stage. Each and every Naga was hoping for a permanent solution and an end to bloodshed and killings," said T. Ao, a church leader.

First Published: Nov 05, 2005 11:01 IST