The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaak-Muivah) said on Wednesday that the Naga community will not merge with the Union of India, but will coexist with India as two entities. It also called upon the Nagas to “seize the opportunity” for a solution to the Indo-Naga political problem, and said every possible way must be explored for such a solution, The Morung Express reported.

“The Nagas will not merge into the Union of India, but they will co-exist with the Union of India as two entities,” a press release from the NSCN (IM) said. “Nagas are a recognized entity. Nagas do not accept Indian Constitution, but Nagas and Indians will share sovereign powers based on competencies.”

The Indian government had signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN (IM) in 1997. In 2015, the Centre and the rebel group began negotiations for a solution. However, a joint team of the Assam Rifles and the Indian Army destroyed three NSCN(IM) camps in June 2018, during an operation in Motongsa village of Arunachal Pradesh.

In July last year, the Centre informed a Parliamentary panel that it signed a Framework Agreement with the rebel group, after it agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a “special status”, The Hindu had reported. Then-interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi said the agreement was signed after the Naga rebel group departed from its earlier position of “with India, not within India”.

“It will be a great loss for both the parties in terms of time, labour, money and life if we miss this turn of opportunity,” the NSCN (IM) said on Wednesday, referring to peace talks with the government. The group said the framework agreement is a “meeting point for the war-ridden Indians and the Nagas on the one hand and the uniting point for the divided Nagas on the other”.

The rebel group also said that the Government of India is in talks with it because it represents the problems of all Nagas in all their territories, The Indian Express reported. NSCN(IM) said the question of stakeholders to the talks does not exist, as former interlocutor RN Ravi had asserted that other Naga groups should also be accommodated within the Framework Agreement.

Following the statement, NSCN(IM) General Secretary Th Muivah invited other rebel groups to join the Framework Agreement.

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