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Breakthrough in Naga peace talks likely
Manjula Bhattacharyya

Kohima, October 24
The Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, is hopeful of a positive outcome in the ongoing Naga peace process by next year.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Rio welcomed the decision by the Naga insurgent group, the NSCN(IM), to come to Delhi sometime by November or December to hold talks with the Centre.

Ever since the ceasefire between the Centre and the NSCN(IM) a few years ago, talks were being held at Bangkok. Even on Thursday the latest round of talks was held in Bangkok, where the negotiator on behalf of the Centre, Mr Padmanabhia, met senior NSCN (IM) leaders there.

Informed sources in Nagaland disclosed that the only obstacle in giving the peace process the final shape was the NSCN(IM)s demand for greater Nagaland, which comprised some parts of adjacent Manipur, Arunachal and Assam. Mr Neiphiu Rio also supported the demand for greater Nagaland.

Said Mr Rio: I support the demand for the integration of all Naga-inhabitated areas. Pan-Naga nationalism is a youthful movement and supported by all of us.

Barring the disagreement on the issue of greater Nagaland, the Centre and the NSCN(IM) have almost agreed to work out a formula on the lines of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure peace in Nagaland.

Based on the modified version of Article 370, the Naga groups want more financial and regional autonomy in the region.

Once the modified version of Article 370 was applied in Nagaland, it may be applied in other North-Eastern states, including Assam, disclosed a top official of Nagaland and corroborated by a senior bureaucrat in Assam .

Another Naga group, the NSCN (Khaflang), which declared a ceasefire in 2001, also expressed its desire to hold talks with the Centre. The NSCN (Khalang) has its base in Myanmar.

The NSCN(IM) and NSCN (Khaflang) have reportedly assured the centre that these would cut off the ISI supply line of arms and ammunitions through the Nagaland-Assam border meant for various North-Eastern militant groups.

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