NEW DELHI, March 2 – On the eve of their political dialogue slated to start on Wednesday, the NSCN (I-M) leaders today made courtesy calls on the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister.
Addressing newsmen, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said Muivah had arrived in Delhi and met the Prime Minister. “He met me little later and I have requested him to talk to the new interlocutor.”
When asked about Centre’s views on the demand for sovereignty, Chidambaram gave an evasive response, stating, “We can’t hold negotiations through press conference.”
“Muivah will hold talks with the interlocutor and only the interlocutor will talk to the media,” he firmly stated.
Emerging from their meeting with Chidambaram, general secretary of NSCN (I-M), Thuingaleng Muivah who led the delegation, told newsmen they had a comprehensive discussion and the NSCN-IM would continue the negotiation with the Government of India. “If the Centre is serious then we will talk,” he said.
However, he denied having received any counter proposals. “No counter proposals have been made so far,” he said.
The Government of India is reported to have prepared a set of proposals in response to the list of demands submitted by the NSCN (I-M). The meeting between the Naga delegation and Chidamabaram at North Block, which was also attended by Union Home Secretary G K Pillai and Special Secretary Internal Security, U K Bansal, lasted for over an hour.
When asked about the opinion of the Naga outfit over the appointment of a new interlocutor, R S Pandey, Muivah played safe, asserting that the Government of India had confidence in him. “So we will talk to him. But if the talks do not yield any result then we will say no,” he said.
However, he declined to comment when asked about Pandey’s closeness with former chief minister, S C Jamir.
The NSCN (I-M) general secretary arrived in New Delhi on Saturday from Netherlands.
Earlier this morning, the Naga delegation also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence.
Convenor of the steering committee, the highest policy making body of the outfit, V S Atem told newsmen they were hopeful, very optimistic... but ruled out any compromise on the demand for sovereignty. “We have not given up and will never give up the demand for our independence,” Atem said.
The last round of peace talks between the government and the separatist group was held in March 2009 in Switzerland and ended in a stalemate.
Meanwhile, in response to the Centre’s latest stand on unification of all Naga groups, the NSCN (I-M) in a statement issued yesterday said the NSCN (IM) had already conducted four to five rounds of consultative meetings with representatives of various Naga tribes on the ongoing peace process.
During such a discussion in January 2005, the Naga people gave “unequivocal mandate” to the outfit to carry on the political dialogue with the Government of India more actively to clinch a honourable settlement for all the Nagas and the Nagalim at the earliest, the statement claimed.
Taking on similar lines, addressing Naga students studying in Delhi, Muivah said the group wouldn’t budge from its demand for ‘freedom’. “We won’t give up our right to freedom. Sorry, we cannot withdraw that.”
“We have been told that the Government of India has arranged some counter-proposals from their side. I don’t know how far that is practicable or acceptable to us,” he said.