‘Talks Must Go On, Enough Room to Discuss Unresolved Issues’, Says Himanta After Meet with NEDA Core Panel

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said there was enough room for discussion about the Naga issue, and that if talks continued solutions will be reached at.

The chief minister, who is also the convener of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), arrived at Dimapur late on Thursday to hold a meeting with the Core Committee on the Naga Political Issue (CCoNPI) headed by Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio and to acquaint himself with the latest development following the meeting on May 28 when the core committee met Isak-Muivah National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).

After the hours long meeting with the delegation of CCoNPI, Sarma said, “While there are roadblocks in every complex issue, with discussion all concerns can be resolved. We have the confidence that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the matured stand of the NSCN-IM the Naga issue will be resolved in due course of time.”

“Naga Political issue is a very complex and sensitive issue. The unsolved issues should be discussed on negotiation table. Centre has already appointed AK Mishra as an interlocutor for Naga issues. In the concern of Nagaland, Chief Minister will talking with Prime Minister and Home Minster. I will coordinate the Nagaland chief minister; it’s the protocol,” Dr Sarma added.

Sarma had clarified to media that his role was ‘limited’ and would not be able to ‘mediate in such a big and complex issue’.the NEDA convener said, “At the political level and with the political leadership of BJP, NDPP and NPF, we keep on talking because all are within the NEDA. So, my role is limited only to interacting with our NEDA partners and not beyond.”

This was the second time that NEDA convener Dr Sarma visited Dimapur, the business hub of Nagaland to discuss the Naga Political Issue. He last visited the state in September 21 last year and held an interaction with the NSCN-IM in the presence of Nagaland Chief Minister.

Besides Rio, the CCoNPI members present at the meeting included– former chief minister, who is the chairman of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) TR Zeliang, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Neinu, Neiba Kronu, G. Kaito Aye, Metsubo Jamir, Paiwang Konyak, Jacob Zhimomi, Pangnyu Phom, YM Yollow, Tongpang Ozukum, R. Khing, Imkong L Imchen, Yitachu, K Khalo, Dr. Ngangshi Ao, H. Haiying and Rajya Sabha MP Phangnon Konyak.

Earlier, the CCoNPI and NSCN-IM in a meeting on May 28, had mulled roping in the services of Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks. The CCoNPI had proposed the name of Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma for facilitating the ongoing peace talks between the NSCN-IM and the government of India.

The CCoNPI is comprises all the 60 Members of the Nagaland Assembly and two Members of Parliament. NEDA convener Dr Sarma, who is very close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, earlier in September last year held meetings with the CCoNPI members including Nagaland Chief Minister and government representative on the Naga political issue AK Mishra. Rio along with other members of the CCoNPI met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in April in New Delhi and urged the Union Government to expedite the peace talks.

Interlocutor Mishra then visited headquarters of NSCN-IM camp Hebron, near Dimapur and held discussion with Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of NSCN-IM in April and many other Naga leaders and Chief Minister. The Assam Chief Minister on Wednesday said in Guwahati that the Naga political issue is a complex issue and must be left to the Government of India and the NSCN-IM and all others must refrain from commenting on this issue.

The NSCN-IM on Wednesday accused the Central governments representative for peace talks for “giving wrong interpretation in order to confuse the common people”. “But the representatives of the government of India have started giving wrong interpretations in order to confuse the common people. We too feel apprehensive about the clandestine plot of imposing another accord on the Nagas or hijacking the issue through their surrogates,” a NSCN-IM statement said without naming Mishra.

The Centre has been holding separate talks with the NSCN-IM since 1997, and the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) since 2017. It signed a framework agreement with NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015, and an Agreed Position with NNPGs on November 17, 2017.

However, no final solution has been achieved with the NSCN-IM remaining firm on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas.

The election to the 60-member Nagaland assembly is expected to be held in February-March next year and all the political parties and the state government are keen to resolve the much expected issue before the polls.

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