Naga pact only a 'formula', will talk to other CMs: Zeliang

Naga pact only a 'formula', will talk to other CMs: Zeliang

Naga peace pact is only a "formula" for a final accord, Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang today asserted while seeking to allay apprehensions of other northeastern states, and said that he other members of Assembly were even ready to step down to make a new beginning.

Voicing confidence that other rebels groups would also come on board after the signing of agreement between NSCN-IM and the Centre, he said a 16-member Naga delegation will visit Myanmar to meet S S Khaplang, the chief of the other Naga rebel group NSCN-K which had abrogated the ceasefire agreement and attacked security personnel, including a convoy of army killing 18 soldiers in Manipur in June.

"I along with all members of the Nagaland Assembly are ready to step down, if an acceptable and honourable solution is found to the Naga people, in order to make a new beginning," the Chief Minister, whose Naga People's Front is an NDA ally, said.

His remarks are significant as the region has a history of rebels groups joining political mainstream and even assuming power after signing of peace accords.

Asserting that the agreement will not affect non-Nagas and will resolve the problems of North-East, Zeliang said that he speak to other chief ministers of the region.

Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh have said they will not cede an inch of their land. They have protested for being consulted before signing of the pact with NSCN-IM on Monday.

"The pact signed by Centre and NSCN-IM will help bring peace to the North-East. I will speak personally to my counterparts of neighbouring states to allay their apprehensions over the agreement," Zeliang said at a press conference here, a day after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Solving the Naga problem is solving the problems of the North-East. Non-Nagas of the North-East should not have any negative thinking about the pact with NSCN-IM," he said.

Zeliang said the peace pact was only a formula for a final agreement and what he understood after meeting Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh was that the Naga political problem will be resolved through sharing of power between the government of India and the Naga people.

"Today we have trust and confidence in Prime Minister Modi," Zeliang said. Highlighting the key aspects of the formula, he said Naga customary system and land holding system will be respected by the Centre based on the "unique history of Nagas" and it will be applied across the Naga inhabited areas of the Northe East, including Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

"This Naga issue does not pertain to only Nagaland. Naga problem is covering the entire Naga contiguous region.

"So, respecting the traditional land holding system, customary system, it covers the entire Naga (community) wherever they are...," he said.

Zeliang said when he will meet his counterparts in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, he would tell them that Naga people were asking goverment of India that their right to uphold their customary system be strengthened "in their own land".

"Whether in Assam, or 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 Bodo issue was resolved and he was very happy when Mizo accord was signed.

"Today we are resolving Naga problem. It is not going to affect any other community, who are not Nagas. Solving the Naga problem is solving the problems of the North East," he said.

When asked how optimistic he was considering that groups such as NSCN (K) have stayed away from the peace process, he said, "We hope that if the solution is acceptable to all the people, all the faction will come and join."

He said the 16-member Naga delegation, which will visit Myanmar to meet Khaplang, has already received clearance from the Home Ministry.

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