Nagaland CM in capital for finalise Naga peace modalities

NSCN, formed in 1980, has been fighting the Indian state over creation of a sovereign state of Nagalim.

New Delhi: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio Monday led a 19-member delegation of legislators, including Leader of Opposition Tokheho Yepthomi, from his state to meet union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde here to thrash out the final contours of a peace settlement with Naga insurgent groups.

Rio and 18 other legislators met Shinde at the latter`s North Block office when the two sides discussed the peace process that the central government is about to conclude with the separatist Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), which has given a written commitment to remain within the Indian Constitution.

"The Nagaland chief minister and other legislators, including the leader of the opposition, were here in Monday morning to meet the home minister to discuss the final modalities of the peace agreement with the Naga insurgent groups," a home ministry source said here.

"They will stay back in Delhi for a couple of days more to discuss with other political leaders, both in the government and opposition, on the peace process," the source said.

The written commitment from the NSCN-IM, which is the pro-negotiation faction, also includes its acceptance of the existing state boundaries in the northeastern part of India, thereby enabling easier final settlement of the peace process in consultations with the states bordering Nagaland such as Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

NSCN, formed in 1980, has been fighting the Indian state over creation of a sovereign state of Nagalim, which would comprise of territories inhabited by the Naga people in these four Indian states.

However, the NSCN split into two factions, of which the Isak-Muivah group led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah is pro-negotiation, while the group led by their rival S.S. Khaplang is against talks.

As a reciprocal measure to the written commitment from the Isak-Muival group, the central government has assured that the Naga people will enjoy special rights in the states neighbouring Nagaland, where they are at present in a minority.

These provisions were part of the contours of the peace process that the central government has been holding with the NSCN-IM over the last two years now.

As home minister, Shinde has been tasked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speak to the chief ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur -- all three states are ruled by the Congress -- to thrash out a final settlement, informed sources said.

Meanwhile, the centre`s interlocutors` team led by former petroleum and natural gas secretary RS Pandey will continue with its negotiations with the Naga groups from the four states, besides the NSCN-IM to achieve a larger agreement on the peace process, they said.