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Delay in Naga peace talks might be counter-productive, creating cordial atmosphere is need of the hour

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indian-army-lDelay and procrastination often become favourite catchwords with policymakers, particularly when a formidable and intractable enemy is sought to be defeated on the negotiating table. But the Indian policymakers should have realized that with the ongoing Naga peace negotiations any go-slow approach might turn out to be counter- productive.

This is exactly what has happened with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang) breaking out of the negotiation process in April and then leading a massive attack on Indian army personnel in Manipur, killing 18 soldiers. S.S. Khaplang, the group’s leader, is reported to have concluded that no purpose would be served by remaining in the never-ending peace talks.

Of course, the Indian Army retaliated and killed even a greater number of Naga and Manipuri insurgents after attacking their bases in the jungles of Myanmar. But this has put a question mark on the ultimate fate of peace negotiations over the Naga insurgency, one of the first to erupt in India.

Interestingly R.N. Ravi, the interlocutor and government representative in the Naga peace talks, is known to be skeptical about the justification of the effort. Ravi has a point. The Indian government has all along held the NSCN (Issac-Muivah) faction as the principal stakeholder on behalf of the Nagas. This is wrong. There are 25 to 30 separate tribes which constitute the Naga society and all of them are militarily strong. According to Ravi, between 1997 and 2013, 1,800 Nagas had died in 3,000 fratricidal wars.

The need of the hour was to create an atmosphere of cordiality among different tribes rather than accepting the NSCN (I-M) as the sole representative of the Nagas. It should have been kept in mind that some time back, six Naga tribes – the Chang, Konyak, Phom, Khaimniungan, Yimchunger and Sangtan – had decided to bury the hatchet and become independent of the NSCN.

Khaplang comes from the Konyak tribe and the latter’s decision to become independent of the NSCN indicates that he no longer commands total allegiance from his own tribe. Similarly, some time back the Sema tribe had attacked NSCN (I-M) camps, although its chairman Issac Swu is himself a Sema. These two examples indicate that vertical fissures exist within Naga society.

Certainly the Indian government has committed a grave mistake while assessing the strength of S.S. Khaplang. Of the two NSCN groups, his one is numerically inferior. But the man has terrific fire power and has his fingers in the illegal arms trade that goes on in Southeast Asia via the northern part of Myanmar. Most of the north-eastern Indian insurgent groups, including the ULFA (Paresh Barua) and all the major secessionist outfits of Manipur, get their supply of small arms through him.

According to available reports, the NSCN (I-M) has now scaled down its demand from ‘sovereignty’ to ‘greater autonomy’. But it is demanding a greater Nagalim by including the Naga inhabited areas of other contiguous states.

Thuingaleng Muivah, the general secretary of the NSCN (I-M), is a Tangkhul Naga and hails from Manipur. The Nagas dominate the hill districts of Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong which constitute a great part of the state while the valleys are under the control of the Meiteis. It is a fact that Muivah’s influence on the Naga tribes in the Nagaland proper is tenuous and if these hill districts of Manipur are not brought within the ambit of his demand, then his position will become shaky. This became evident as the apex bodies of the Ao and Sumi tribes in Nagaland boycotted the reception for Issac Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah when they had visited Dimapur some years ago.

The Naga imbroglio is really complex and still there are not many indications that the union government has been able to cross any significant hurdle. The United Naga Council, the apex body of the Nagas in Manipur, has raised the demand for an ‘alternative ‘arrangement in the hill districts of the state which means that finance, development and administration will remain in the hands of the hill district people while the state government will control security and police.

But the Nagas will have to drop their unjust demands over some other areas like Cachhar, North Cachhar and Karbi Anglong in Assam. According to the 1991 census, the Nagas have practically no representation in Cachhar. In North Cachhar they constitute only five percent of the population while in Karbi Anglong, their share is only 0.37 percent.

However realizing that their hopeless numerical inferiority will scuttle the demand for inclusion of these areas in the proposed ‘Nagalim’, the Nagas are sneaking in their own people in some border areas of Assam. They are also allegedly indulging in proselytisation of tribals in the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

-(IANS)

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North Korea warns US to Not Misread Peace Overtures as Weakness

North Korea has warned the United States not to misread its overtures of peace as a sign of weakness, as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepare to hold their first-ever summit.

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But the North Korean spokesman said Sunday that movement of U.S. military assets in the region and talk of human rights violations also have hurt the peace process.
North Korea and US agitation, VOA

North Korea has warned the United States not to misread its overtures of peace as a sign of weakness, as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepare to hold their first-ever summit.

“The U.S. is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told North Korean state media Sunday. DPRK — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — is the North’s formal name.

The official was referring to U.S. claims that Trump’s policy of maximum political pressure and sanctions are what drove the North to the negotiating table.

The criticism comes weeks before the U.S.-North Korea summit planned for later this month or early June, and after last month’s historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Read also: Israel Warns Iran, Hints Towards a War in Middle East

At that meeting, Kim promised to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and to move North Korea’s clocks ahead by 30 minutes to correspond with the South Korean time zone, a pledge he fulfilled Saturday.

Beware of moving ‘back to square one’

But the North Korean spokesman said Sunday that movement of U.S. military assets in the region and talk of human rights violations also have hurt the peace process.

The official was referring to U.S. claims that Trump's policy of maximum political pressure and sanctions are what drove the North to the negotiating table.
US President, Wikimedia Commons

“This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hard-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one,” he said.

Trump has indicated that the date and place of the summit have been chosen, and said he believes the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Koreas might be a good venue. Singapore was also believed to be a potential site.

Before Trump meets with Kim, Washington is hoping to gain the release of three Korean Americans accused of anti-state activities. Trump hinted that the release of Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim was in the offing.

There was no sign of an imminent release, though the men had reportedly been moved to the North Korean capital.

The White House, meanwhile, has announced a separate meeting between Trump and Moon at the White House on May 22 to “continue their close coordination on developments regarding the Korean Peninsula.” (VOA)