OTHERS

NSCN(I-M) praises Vajpayee

KOHIMA, JUNE 16. The NSCN(I-M) today lauded the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, and the collective leadership of the underground organisation for resolving the ``ceasefire area coverage imbroglio''.

In its first statement after the June 14 declaration of the ceasefire extension, an NSCN(I-M) statement said this was a ``clear indication that no problem is too big'' if both sides were eager and sincere. The statement, issued by the information and publicity wing of the outfit, also expressed gratitude to various Naga organisations and churches for their contribution to the peace process.

It, however, criticised the ``good neighbours'' who opposed the ceasefire expansion, and called upon them not to be ``apprehensive'' but to regard the new arrangement as ushering in peace among all. It reaffirmed its ``commitment'' to peace and an amicable settlement of the vexed Naga political problem and assured all neighbours of ``living together in co-existence as brothers, having mutual respect for each other''.

Arunachal protests

The Arunachal Pradesh Government opposed the extension of the ceasefire to the Naga-inhabited areas in the State, alleging it ``smelt of the Naga organisation's gameplan for a greater Nagaland''.

``The question of a ceasefire in Arunachal Pradesh does not arise as it would give out a wrong message... No agreement can be imposed on us. The Centre is making the Naga imbroglio more complicated,'' its Minister of State for Home, Mr. Rima Taipodia, said in Itanagar.

The peace accord was ``complicated'', he said, denying that there was any discussion between the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh on the extension of the ceasefire. ``There was no correspondence with the Union Home Ministry on the issue.''

Not consulted: Tripura

The Tripura Chief Minister, Mr. Manik Sarkar, said in Agartala said the Centre should have consulted the States concerned before extending the ceasefire and demanded that it make public the necessities that led to the extension.

Mr. Sarkar said the opinion of all the northeastern States should have been sought before taking any decision on the insurgency problem because their interests were involved.

Mahanta declines comment

In Guwahati, the former Assam Chief Minister and Asom Gana Parishad chief, Mr. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, declined to comment on the issue. When reporters wanted his reaction, he just said it was the duty of the Centre to solve the insurgency problem.

``We want the insurgency problem in the entire northeast to be solved at any cost,'' he said. He claimed no political party other than the AGP had made sincere attempts to end insurgency, and it was for this reason that his party had become a target of the militants. He demanded that the authorities expose the nexus between ``certain political parties and militants''.

- PTI

Unwarranted, says Cong.

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JUNE 16. The Congress party today disapproved of the Centre's decision to extend the ceasefire with the NSCN(I-M) to other northeastern States.

While welcoming the extension of the duration of the four-year old ceasefire agreement, the party described the enlarging of the area to States such as Manipur and Assam as ``unwarranted''. The party spokesman, Mr. S. Jaipal Reddy, said the Assam Chief Minister, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, was not consulted by the Centre even though law and order is a State subject. Even the Manipur Governor, Mr. Ved Marwah, had openly protested the decision, he added.