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Heated exchange between NSCN-IM and govt

Tiff at a camp of NSCN-IM when demand to travel to the home town with their own security while centre wants them to do so with government security.



New Delhi: Tempers ran high at a camp of
NSCN-IM in Nagaland on Saturday when the outfit leadership demanded
they be allowed to travel to the home town of chairman Isaac
Chishi Swu with their own security but the Centre insisted
that they can do so only with government security.

The tiff erupted when NSCN-IM leader V S Atem wrote to
Union Home Ministry seeking permission for the visit of the
outfit`s leadership to Swu`s home town Zunheboto at the
invitation of Sumi Hoho, an influential tribal socio-cultural
organisation.

However, the Home Ministry conveyed to the militant group
that the ground situation in the Nagaland town was not
conducive now due to the factional rivalry among two other
insurgent groups -- Khaplang faction of NSCN and Khole-Kitovi
faction of NSCN -- for a large group`s visit, sources said.

An adamant NSCN-IM insisted that they would travel to
Zunheboto with armed cadres, prompting the Centre today to
order Assam Rifles to stop the journey by putting up
barricades.

The Home Ministry`s contention is that it would allow the
travel only after ensuring foolproof security of NSCN-IM
general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, Swu and others as they
are "highly threatened" persons and proper assessment of the
ground situation, sources said.

It also put other conditions: that the delegation will
not have any armed NSCN-IM cadre, there will not be more than
20 vehicles in the convoy, no public meeting and no press
conference during the trip and they will be provided only
government security.

The issue saw heated exchange of words between the
NSCN-IM and the government representatives.

Since ensuring proper security along the road and at
Zunheboto and making assessment of the ground situation takes
time and cannot be done overnight, the Home Ministry has asked
the NSCN-IM leadership to have patience till all the
arrangements are made, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Centre has directed the Ceasefire
Monitoring Group in Nagaland to talk to rival Naga militant
groups to get their assurance that no untoward incident is
taken place during the visit.

"The steps are being taken only to ensure security of
NSCN-IM leadership. We hope that they will cooperate with the
government to resolve the issue amicably and shortly," the
sources said.

A ceasefire was agreed on with NSCN-IM in August, 1997.
In May, 1998, the Union government appointed Swaraj Kaushal as
the first peace negotiator. He continued in his post till July
1999. After him, former home secretary K Padmanabhaiah took
charge as the Centre`s pointsman and continued till 2009.

R S Pandey, a former petroleum secretary and a 1972 batch
Nagaland cadre IAS officer, was appointed as the new
interlocutor on February 11, 2010.

PTI

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