Saturday, July 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Review Naga truce plan: CMs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Assam and Meghalaya Chief Ministers today met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and demanded the review of Naga ceasefire extension in other North-Eastern states beyond Nagaland in the wake of increasing tension.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Meghalaya Chief Minister E K Mawlong hoped that the Prime Minister would give due consideration to the peoples’ sentiments in the North-East over the ceasefire extension.

“I hope Prime Minister will give due consideration to the after-effects of the ceasefire in Assam and other states since the tension in areas like Karbi Anglong was growing due to it,” Mr Gogoi flanked by Mr Mawlong told newspersons after the meeting.

To a question whether Mr Vajpayee gave any assurance to them, he said Mr Vajpayee “gave us a patient hearing and assured us that the Centre would take all necessary steps in this regard.”

Meanwhile, Home Minister L K Advani today assured the consultative committee attached to the Home Ministry that the territorial integrity of all North-Eastern states would be protected and there would not be any compromise on this issue and said the government was prepared to get a resolution passed in this regard in Parliament.

He was replying to apprehensions raised by members following the extension of ceasefire between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M) without any territorial limits.

“The government is aware of the sentiments and apprehensions expressed by some of the states and organisations from North-East,” an official release quoted him as saying.

Stating that a high level Home Ministry team headed by Minister of State for Home I D Swami is already in Manipur to hold discussions with the representatives of various groups, Mr Advani said the report of the team would be discussed in the meeting convened by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

He said the Centre was also in touch with the NSCN(I-M) on the issue.

When committee members S K Bwiswmuthiary, Joyanta Rongpi, Somnath Chatterjee and others felt that there should have been wider consultations with all state governments and other organisations before signing the agreement with the NSCN(I-M), Mr Advani told the members that it was not correct that the Centre had not consulted the state governments.

The Chief Ministers were consulted on different occasions on the issue, and there was a unanimous view for the extension of the truce to bring peace in the region. He also mentioned about the all-party delegation from Manipur which called on him before he left for Germany and Turkey.

Home Secretary Kamal Pande also briefed the committee members on the revised ground rules of the ceasefire agreement. Giving a resume of the ceasefire truce with the NSCN(I-M) right from 1997, Mr Pande said there were enough safeguards in the ground rules and clarified that no area could be defined as Naga inhabited area, outside Nagaland.


2 Manipur artistes return Padmashri

Imphal, July 6
Noted theatreperson Ratan Thiyam and artiste, Maharaj Kumai Bisiodini, both from Manipur, have returned their Padmashri awards in protest against the extension of ceasefire with the NSCN(I-M) covering the Naga-inhabited areas in three other states, including Manipur.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Thiyam said there had been a communication gap between the Centre and the people of the state. New Delhi had not been able to understand the sentiments of the Manipuris. “How can the people of Manipur protest in their own voice? he asked. ANI


Students take to streets in Imphal

Imphal, July 6
Thousands of students took to the streets in Imphal today during curfew relaxation as the police and security forces set up barricades, intensified patrolling and helicopters whirred overhead in Manipur valley following tension over the last night’s killing of a woman processionist.

With the anti-ceasefire agitation gaining momentum, students, close on the heels of women torchbearers, defied prohibitory orders and poured into the streets as security personnel blocked them near Raj Bhavan.

The students who had gathered at Nityaipat Chuthek, marched in a procession but were prevented by the police and security forces, official sources have said.

Widespread sit-ins were reported from several parts of Manipur, including Nambol, Moriang, Biahnupur, Thoubal and Kakching. No untoward incidents were reported, sources said.

Choppers kept vigil while the police and para-military forces intensified security measures in the valley during the 12-hours relaxation of the curfew from 5 a.m., they said.

A woman had been killed and over 100 others injured when the police burst teargas shells late last night to disperse more than a lakh women who staged a massive torchlight rally across the valley, defying curfew.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs I.D. Swami, today, met students leaders, politicians, academicians, representatives of various women’s groups and others strongly opposed to the ceasefire. PTI

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