NSCN-IM demand for Nagaland sovereignty rejected

New Delhi: The Union government and Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM continued talks for the second day Wednesday when its demand for sovereignty for Nagaland and its territorial claims over portions of neighbouring states was categorically rejected.

While RS Pandey, the government's pointsman on Naga talks, led the official delegation, Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of NSCN-IM, represented the Naga outfit at the talks which lasted for two hours.

Today's talks revolved around a list of 30 demands submitted by NSCN-IM which includes sovereignty for Nagaland.

"We talked on all issues. All the demands given were discussed one by one. We are committed to continuing formal and informal talks as solutions are not found in one day," Pandey said after the meeting.

He said both sides were committed to working out an honourable and negotiated solution to the problem. "There is seriousness on both sides to continue dialogue on sustained basis," he said.

While he did not spell out details of the discussion, sources privy to the talks said NSCN-IM was conveyed that while sovereignty was not the issue for discussion but if need be, more autonomy could be considered.

With NSCN-IM proposing a 'greater Nagalim" including some territories of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the sources said the Naga leaders were conveyed that it would be solving one problem while raising three others.

Pandey, a former Union Petroleum Secretary, was appointed as the pointsman on Naga talks on February 12 to succeed former Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah who was the interlocutor for nearly a decade.

Among other issues in the charter demand, the NSCN-IM pointed out certain taxation matters and preservation of cultural heritage, the sources said.

The Naga delegation had paid courtesy calls on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram yesterday before beginning the talks with with Pandey.

Muivah, who along with four other Naga leaders, arrived here on February 27 from Amsterdam.

This is the second such meeting in the past five years. Muivah, along with NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chisi Swu, had met Singh earlier during their visit in 2006.

Muivah, along with Swu, had last visited India in December 2006 and held talks with government leaders. He is expected to visit Nagaland later.

A ceasefire was agreed on with NSCN-IM in August 1997. In May 1998, the Union government had appointed Swaraj Kaushal as the first negotiator. He continued in his post till July 1999.