A day after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang said here on Sunday that the Naga peace pact was only a “formula” to a “final accord”.
Voicing confidence that other rebels groups would come on board after the signing of the agreement between the Union government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) [NSCN(I-M)], he said at a press conference that a 16-member Naga delegation would visit Myanmar to meet S.S. Khaplang, the chief of the NSCN(K), which had violated the ceasefire agreement and ambushed an Army convoy killing 18 soldiers in Manipur in June.
“I am ready to step down, along with all members of the Nagaland Assembly, if an acceptable and honourable solution is found, in order to make a new beginning,” the Chief Minister said.
His remarks are significant as the region has a history of rebels groups joining the political mainstream and even assuming power after signing of peace accords.
Will speak to other CMs: Zeliang
With the Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh protesting that they had not been consulted before the signing of the peace accord with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muviah), Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang said here on Sunday that he would speak personally to them to allay their apprehensions. The three Chief Ministers have said that they will not cede an inch of land of their States under the accord.
“The pact signed by Centre and the NSCN(I-M) will help bring peace to the Northeast. I will speak personally to my counterparts of neighbouring States to allay their apprehensions over the agreement,” Mr. Zeliang said at a press conference.
“Solving the Naga problem is solving the problems of the Northeast. Non-Nagas of the Northeast should not have any negative thinking about the pact with the NSCN(I-M),” he said. “Today, we have trust and confidence in Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi,” Mr. Zeliang said.
Highlighting the key aspects of the formula, he said the Centre would respect the Naga customary system and landholding system based on the unique history of Nagas across Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast, including in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
“This Naga issue does not pertain only to Nagaland. Naga problem covers the entire Naga contiguous region. So, respecting the traditional landholding system, customary system, it covers the entire Naga community wherever they are ... ,” he said. “Whether in Assam, Arunachal or Manipur, Naga people are living in their own land and they want some kind of autonomy or more power to strengthen their rights and their customary system. I think other non-Nagas should not have any negative thinking about this,” he said. The Chief Minister said even the Bodo issue was resolved and he was very happy when the Mizo accord was signed.