Nagaland Minister wants Khaplang faction on board
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Nagaland Home Minister Yanthungo Patton said he would request the Centre to sign a ceasefire agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), banned by the Home Ministry for attacks against security forces.NSCN-K patriarch S.S. Khaplang died earlier this month in Myanmar and it was under him that the outfit unilaterally abrogated ceasefire in March 2015, leading to multiple violent incidents, including the attack on an Army convoy on June 4 in Manipur’s Chandel district where 18 Army men were killed.Mr. Patton told The Hindu on phone that they (Nagaland government) contacted Mr. Khaplang in the “last part of 2015” to convince him to come for talks.“We contacted the NSCN-K earlier also, around one-and-a-half-years back, but the agreement could not get through. We were in touch with Khaplang, but since he is no more, we need to start afresh. We are in touch with the new leadership in Myanmar,” said Mr. Patton.The ruling Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) party in the State is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).The government signed a framework agreement with another Naga group, the NSCN-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) in August 2015 to look for a solution to the decades-old Naga insurgency. ‘They are with us’ Asked whether the proposal would impact the Centre’s agreement with the NSCN-IM, Mr. Patton said, “They are with us. The NSCN-IM also wants all Naga factions together and they would welcome the move once the NSCN-K joins the peace talks.”The NSCN-K operates from camps in neighbouring Myanmar and India has on several occasions asked the Myanmar government to take action against the insurgent groups there.“We understand that the Centre has banned them for five years. In the past also, we have shared our desire to initiate dialogue with the NSCN-K but after Mr. Khaplang’s death, we would re-initiate the process with Home Minister Rajnath Singh,” he said.Mr. Khaplang (77), a Hemi Naga from Myanmar, formed his own outfit in 1988 after he fell out with Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, the other two Naga leaders who went on to form the NSCN-IM. NIA had declared a reward of ₹5 lakh for his arrest. Mr. Swu died of illness last year in Delhi.Naga outfits envisage a “Greater Nagalim” or a contiguous land for the Nagas covering the States of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Myanmar.On June 12, Mr. Rajnath Singh constituted a panel to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border and said that “it was being misused by militants and trans-border criminals who occasionally entered India, committed crimes and escaped to their relatively safer hideouts”. India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km adjoining Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a ‘free movement’ regime up to 16 km across the border. Mr. Patton said he had opposed the move by the Centre to curb movement of people along the Myanmar border as it would impact the local ethos and culture of the Naga community.