Hours after his meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday rushed to Dimapur and held meetings with the NSCN (IM) leaders, his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio, leaders of various political parties, Naga groups and senior government officials to take forward the much-debated Naga peace talks.
Officials said that Sarma, who is also the Convener of the pro-BJP front North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), held meetings with former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Central government representative A.K. Mishra and the General Secretary of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, Thuingaleng Muivah.
After the important meeting, the Assam Chief Minister tweeted: “PM Shri Narendra Modi and HM Shri Amit Shah are committed to ensure ever-lasting peace in the Northeast. At Dimapur today, we held a discussions with NSCN (IM) representatives in the presence of Nagaland CM Shri Neiphiu Rio about the ongoing peace talks with GoI.”
“We are all keen that the ongoing peace talks fructify into concrete results soon. I also discussed the political scenario in Nagaland with the CM (Rio) as well the upcoming Nagaland Assembly elections, and NEDA’s role in it,” Sarma said in another tweet.
For the first time in the Naga peace talks, the Assam Chief Minister has been involved in the discussions.
The opposition Congress on Tuesday raised questions over the Assam Chief Minister’s involvement in the Naga peace talks and said that the state’s interest may be compromised in the long run.
Demanding the publication of the Naga Framework Agreement (NFA), signed between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM in 2015, Assam Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah asked the Centre to make public at what capacity is the Assam CM involved in the peace talks in Nagaland.
“As a Chief Minister of Assam, can he (Sarma) hold talks with the NSCN (IM) without discussions in the state Assembly and without taking the Cabinet into confidence? The NSCN (IM) has been demanding for ‘Greater Nagalim’ (integration of Naga dominated areas of neighbouring states) and for all we know, it is supposed to include parts of Assam. The Congress is committed to keeping its state intact and under no circumstances will it allow any part of its land into Greater Nagalim,” the Assam Congress chief told the media.
The Central government has been separately holding peace talks with the NSCN-IM and eight other outfits, which came together a few years ago under the banner of NNPGs. The NSCN-IM and the other outfits had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997.
After over a year, crucial meetings between the Government of India’s envoy and the Naga insurgent outfits began in Kohima on Monday to settle the long-pending Naga political issue, involving various bodies, including the NSCN (IM).
Officials in Kohima said that Central government representative A.K. Mishra and the NSCN (IM) leadership led by Thuingaleng Muivah held a meeting at the police complex in Chumoukedima on Monday.
Both Mishra and other NSCN-IM leaders remained tight-lipped about the details of the discussions held in Monday’s crucial meeting, which took place for the first time after the Union government on September 9 transferred Nagaland Governor Ravindra Narayan Ravi to Tamil Nadu.
Ravi was the Centre’s interlocutor in the Naga peace talks for many years.