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Severing All Ties With State Government Still Top Agenda For UNC, Stops Short Of Lim Demand, No Final Say, But Separate UT Or State Mooted

SENAPATI, Dec 3: Thankfully the demand for a Nagalim, which means carving out huge chunks of territories from the neighboring States, particularly Manipur, and bring all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit did not surface in the first tripartite talk held today between leaders of the UNC, envoy from the Centre and representatives from the State Government at Senapati district headquarters today.

However the Lim shadow hung heavily in the demands or conditions put forward by the UNC, when it insisted on the creation of either a separate State or formation of a Union Territory for the Nagas of Manipur.

The points raised by the UNC leaders in today’s talk was in line with the Declaration adopted on July 1, 2010, under the Naga People’s Convention, which had clearly stated that they would cut off all ties with the Government of Manipur.

Former Lok Sabha MP from the Outer Parliamentary Constituency and Naga leader Mani Charenamei, who was among the eight-member United Naga Council (UNC) representatives at the tripartite talk at Senapati district today, said the alternative arrangements demanded by the Nagas could be formation of a separate Naga Union Territory or a State.

The demand is within the Constitution of India, Mani said while addressing a press conference at Senapati district headquarters, located about 60 kilometers from Imphal in the afternoon today.

The former MP spoke to the media about an hour after the tripartite talk.

On the other hand the representatives from the State Government made it clear that the territorial integrity of Manipur is non-negotiable, said a source.

UK Bansal, Secretary in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (Internal Security) and Chief Secretary DS Poonia led the Central and State Governments respectively, while Sword Vashum headed the UNC delegation in the talks held at the office complex of Deputy Commissioner (Senapati).

On being asked about the outcome of the talks, Charenamei said, ‘Today being the first day, I should say that we have been able to make some sort of a breakthrough but we have not set any deadline for the next round of talks.’

Incidentally the core issue of alternative arrangements for the Nagas was not discussed thoroughly in the talk.

On this core issue, Central team leader Bansal said ‘We have tried to understand each others’ point of view and what alternative arrangement connotes, because it has lots of meaning and can be interpreted in many ways. Some points have come up. We are carrying it forward in the next round of meeting.’

About the talks, Bansal said, ‘We hope to pursue the dialogue till it comes to a logical conclusion. They (Naga leaders) have come and sat across the table discussing issues. I’m very hopeful that continuation of the interaction will lead to positive development of the people.’

On the other hand UNC delegation leader Sword Vashum said the core issue is only alternative arrangements for the Nagas.

Elaborating, he said the Nagas in their highest decision making forum, the Naga People’s Convention ( NPC)  held on July 1 this year,  had already decided to sever all political ties with the Government of Manipur. A memorandum to this effect was also submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 14.

Vashum, a senior official in the Central Government, expressed serious concern over the failure of the three Cabinet Ministers of the State to turn up  for the talk despite being notified earlier saying that the Chief Secretary cannot make any political decision.

Besides the core issue ‘we are not running away from discussing other related issues in the talks,’ Vashum added.  Besides Bansal, other central government representatives  include Sambhu Singh, Joint Secretary ( MHA), northeast, Ashuli Challai, director Doner, Colonel Sanjeeb Narayan, Director MO 2 and Brigadier AK Narula commander 59 Mountain Brigade representing Eastern Command.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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