GUWAHATI: The S S Khaplang faction of the Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) has reiterated that sovereignty of the Nagas is a non-negotiable element.
“It is an established fact that the Nagas desire to have their own country comprising all ancestral Naga territories, irrespective of arbitrary and artificial state and international boundaries. So we cannot betray our people by compromising on the issue,” NSCN-K leader Isak Sumi told New Indian Express from an undisclosed location in Myanmar on Tuesday.
His assertion came amidst the buzz in Nagaland and the Northeast that New Delhi is inching closer to resolving the seven-decade-old issue through negotiations with the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN, or NSCN-IM.
Recently, six other Naga insurgent groups joined the process of dialogue, fuelling speculation that something was afoot.
Apart from Nagaland, there are sizeable Nagas populations in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. While NSCN-IM demands the creation of a unified Naga homeland within India, called Greater Nagaland, by integrating the Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring states, NSCN-K insists on a separate Naga country comprising Naga-inhabited areas in India and Myanmar.
The Nagas have a large population in Myanmar and many of them are NSCN-K members.
There is a perception among individuals closely following the Naga political problem that given the hardline stance of NSCN-K, the central government will possibly try to isolate the outfit.
The NSCN-K entered into a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi in 2001 but abrogated it unilaterally in 2015. Months later, it carried out a deadly ambush on an Indian Army convoy in Manipur, killing 18 personnel.
The outfit now operates out of Myanmar in the wake of stepped up operations against it in Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
The central government has been engaged in peace parleys with NSCN-IM for over 20 years consequent upon their signing a ceasefire agreement. It has also been engaged in an unofficial ceasefire with six other outfits which recently came on board.
The NSCN-K is the lone outfit left out of the process of negotiations. Isak Sumi said the outfit has not received any feelers from the Centre to join the dialogue.
Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang favours an inclusive solution to the Naga issue. “We are happy to see six Naga political groups coming together and joining the process of dialogue. I thought this is a good sign.
“Only the NSCN-K is left out of the process of talks. We are hopeful they will also come on board. Everybody should come together towards finding a permanent solution,” Zeliang said.
His Manipur counterpart, N Biren Singh, said he favoured an early solution to the Naga issue but insisted that it should not hurt the interests of his state. His oblique reference is to the state’s territorial integrity vis-à-vis the Greater Nagaland demand by NSCN-IM.