Myanmar mum on security clearance for Naga team

Source: Google images
Source: Google images

New Delhi: A week after the home ministry gave security clearance to a 16-member Naga delegation to travel to Myanmar to hold talks with NSCN-K chief S.S. Khaplang, the delegation is yet to receive the green light from the Myanmar government.

The delegation is expected to talk to NSCN-K about resuming the 2001 ceasefire which was abrogated in March this year. The delegation is also likely to convince the group to join the peace process.

According to the delegation, that consists of members from apex Naga civil society Naga Hoho and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the request was made to the Myanmar government immediately after the Naga Peace Accord was signed on Aug 3 between the Indian government and the NSCN (IM). A further reminder was sent last week.

“We have not received the security clearance or even any kind of reply from the Myanmar Government inspite of making the request weeks ago. Due to the absence of the order, we are unable to decide on the dates to travel to Myanmar or where we are likely to hold talks with the senior officials of NSCN(K) including it’s chief S.S. Khaplang,” Naga Hoho president P. Chuba Ozukum told IANS.

In recent times, Khaplang has signed a pact with the Myanmar government, paving the way for grant of autonomy to the NSCN-K in Sagaing — a northwestern administrative region of Myanmar.

The agreement allows NSCN-K members to move unarmed across the country and to open a sub-office in the region.

Speaking on the issue, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told IANS: “Home Ministry has got nothing with finalising the dates, as it is not an official delegation. Apart from the security clearance, we are not giving any direction to them on their travel.”

Nagaland chief minister T R Zeliang and home minister Yanthungo Patton had met union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier this month. “They told him that they are going to send a team to Myanmar to talk with the NSCN(K) chief. They have also said that they will put efforts from their side. So, if that is so, then what’s the problem, let them go ahead with it. However Myanmar Government’s clearance is must,” he said.

Central government’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks R.N. Ravi is also in Nagaland to take ahead the final accord and is likely to meet leaders of other factions of the NSCN.

National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) has several factions including NSCN-(Isak-Muivah), NSCN-(Khaplang), NSCN-(Unification), NSCN-(Reformation) and NSCN-(Khole-Kitovi). Apart from that there also exists the oldest of all groups — the Naga National Council (NNC).

A source in ENPO, which is part of the delegation, told IANS that though the place set for the negotiation is in a remote area of Myanmar, the delegation cannot depart without the Myanmar government’s permission.

On being asked about the content of the negotiations, he said: “First of all we have to make the NSCN(K) understand the Naga Accord signed between the government and the NSCN (IM). We will try to convince them to resume the ceasefire that they had abrogated early this year. We want peace in Nagaland.”

The abrogation of the 14-year-old ceasefire in March this year was followed by several attacks on the Indian Army – the first being on the Assam Rifles in Nagaland’s Mon district, killing eight troopers and then on June 4, during which 20 troopers of the Dogra Regiment were killed in an ambush in Manipur’s Chandel district.

Earlier, the Myanmar government had informally indicated that permission to travel for the delegation would be available after August 15 — India’s Independence Day.