October 6, 2020 6:05:38 am
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, NSCN-IM chief Th Muivah had asked for the Naga peace talks to be shifted to “a third country”.
He had also demanded that the talks be conducted directly “at a Prime Ministerial level” and without any preconditions.
“If our stay in India is no more welcome, all necessary arrangements must be made for us to leave India and the political talks be resumed in a third country,” Muivah wrote.
After relations between the Centre’s interlocutor R N Ravi and the IM deteriorated over the past year, since the conclusion of formal peace talks last October, the IM had been called to Delhi to continue dialogue, which was conducted by senior IB officials. These “informal talks” concluded in September, and the IM leaders headed back to Dimapur in Nagaland.
On Monday, the IM released Muivah’s letter, saying that it wanted the Naga people “to know” how unresponsive the PMO was to Naga groups.
“…we waited with all confidence that the Prime Minister of India will respond positively. Today, NSCN being accountable to the Naga people hereby released the letter to inform of the delay and the lack of response from the office of the Indian Prime Minister to our people,” it said in a statement.
The IM has been facing pressure from the Indian government on the one hand and the people of Nagaland on the other, who have been calling for an early resolution to the Naga issue. Civil society and tribe leaders’ organisations in Nagaland have also issued statements that the people no longer want a separate flag and constitution if this was not possible to negotiate — an issue that has been a sticking point between the Centre and the IM. The IM’s letter, sources said, was to shift the responsibility of the delay in a solution to the Indian government.
In his letter to the PM, Muivah wrote that after 22 years of negotiations, “a serious deadlock” had emerged over a separate flag and constitution.
He claimed that when the ceasefire agreement was signed in 1997, it had been decided that “political dialogue will be at the highest level, that is Prime Minister level, without pre-condition and outside India in a third country”.
In the past, the Naga dialogue has taken place in Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Vienna, Milan, Hague, New York, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Osaka.