OTHERS

Advani's assurance to North-Eastern States

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. The Union Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, today announced the Government's willingness to have a resolution passed in Parliament on protection of the territorial integrity of the northeastern States to allay fears in the minds of the people.

Mr. Advani assured members of the Consultative Committee attached to the Home Ministry that the territorial integrity of all northeastern States would be protected and there would not be any compromise on the issue.

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

Saying that the Government was aware of the sentiments and apprehensions expressed by some States and organisations in the northeast on expanding the ambit of the truce, Mr. Advani responded to the unanimous appeal from the consultative committee members that there should not be any violation of territorial integrity of the concerned States.

Referring to the situation in Manipur arising out of the extension of the ceasefire last month where violent protests broke out, the Minister said the Centre was taking all necessary steps to deal with the situation. A high-level delegation led by the Minister of State, Mr. I. D. Swami, was in the State to speak to various organisations to ascertain their views on issues arising out of the ceasefire extension. The team's report would be discussed at the meeting convened by the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, here on Sunday. He said the Centre was also in touch with the NSCN(I-M) on the issue.

When some committee members felt there should have been wider consultations with all the State Governments and other organisations before signing the agreement with the NSCN(I-M), Mr. Advani said the Chief Ministers concerned were consulted on different occasions and they were unanimous that the truce should be extended to bring peace in the region.

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

Mr. Somnath Chatterjee referring to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation's demand for a separate State said the movement was projecting Kamtapuri as a separate language and cultural identity.

They were also resorting to militant activities with the support of ULFA in the north Bengal areas. It was pointed out that the Centre had sensitised the West Bengal Government on the developments in the region.

Today's meeting was attended by Mr. S. K. Bwismuthiary, Mr. H. Haokip, Mr. J.P. Yadav, Mr. G. M. Banatwalla, Mr. Mohan S. Delkar, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Mr. Ali Mohammad Naik, Mr. Saiduzzaman, Mr. Sahib Singh Verma and Mr. Joyanta Rongpi (all Lok Sabha members), and Mr. Devi Prasad Singh, Mr. Dina Nath Mishra, Mr. S. Viduthalai Virumbi, Mr. Sikander Bakht, Mr. Debabrata Biswas, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, Mr. Mirza Abdul Rashid, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury and Mr. Balbir Punj (from Rajya Sabha).