Home minister Amit Shah likely to visit Manipur to discuss Naga issue

Union home minister Amit Shah is likely to visit Manipur this month to discuss the politically significant Naga issue with various stakeholders, officials said on November 13.

An official of Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said that as a prelude to Shah’s visit to Manipur, Assam finance and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hurriedly visited Kohima two days back and held a closed-door meeting with the chief minister.

Though Sarma refused to disclose any point of his discussion with the Nagaland chief minister, media reports said that he was assigned by Shah with the task of studying the political situation in reference to the Naga issue in Nagaland and also hold discussions with various personalities, political parties and groups including civil society groups.

Sarma is also the convener of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a conglomerate of various regional and national political parties of Northeast states.

Before visiting Nagaland, Sarma told the media in Guwahati that the Centre is working towards a final solution of the Naga issue which goes along the unique history and traditions of Naga society.

“I strongly feel if Naga leadership wants to sign the accord, this is the right time. I once again appeal to them that they should sign the agreement and lead Nagaland to a durable solution. The entire northeast is looking forward to it,” said Sarma, who is often dealing with various important issues of the northeast region.

“There should be smooth sailing of the Naga issue. The Union government has taken into confidence all the concerned Northeast states on the issue,” the Assam minister said.

Naga Issue: Developments in Imphal

In Imphal, confirming Union home minister’s visit to Manipur, chief minister N Biren Singh while talking to the media said that Shah had expressed the desire to meet all elected representatives and other stakeholders, including members of civil society organisations, and discuss the Naga issue in Manipur.

“Date of Shah’s visit was yet to be finalised,” said Singh who has earned kudos after the BJP’s huge success to wrest four of the five assembly seats in the November 7 byelections, result of which was declared on November 10.

Referring to the talks between the central government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), Singh reiterated that there would be no compromise on the issue of Manipur’s territorial integrity.

“Our government’s position is very transparent. We have conveyed our position to the central government earlier on many occasions that we stand opposed to any compromise on Manipur’s territorial interests,” he reaffirmed.

The Nagas have sizable populations particularly in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh besides majority populations in Nagaland.

NSCN-IM led by its chief negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently demanded the involvement of the Prime Minister in the talks for faster determination of their demands, insisting that the negotiations be held in a “third country”.

In the eight-page letter, Muivah also highlighted what he called the “obnoxious” conduct of the officials of the Union home ministry while dealing with the Naga question.

The NSCN-IM has held a number of rounds of talks and negotiations with the central government in Delhi and even outside India after signing a ceasefire pact in August 1997.

The Modi government had signed a “framework agreement” with the NSCN-IM in 2015.

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