A faction of Naga rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) on Wednesday announced its decision to revive the ceasefire with the Centre and return to peace talks, NorthEast Now reported.

Niki Sumi, the group’s leader, said in a statement that the decision was made keeping in mind the civil society’s wish for the resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem. Sumi added that his group had been striving for years to achieve an honourable and acceptable solution to the matter.

Sumi also acknowledged that the Centre had made an effort to find a lasting solution to the conflict by involving all the stakeholders.

An unidentified official from the Ministry of Home Affairs told PTI that the Sumi-led group’s decision to join talks will give a boost to the Naga peace process.

Sumi had been elected as the president of the faction on December 18. The post became vacant after the splinter group’s former president Nyemlang Konyak joining the NSCN (Reformation) in September. The NSCN-K had signed a ceasefire with the Centre in 2001, but decided to revoke it in 2015.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland had split into two factions in 1988 – NSCN(K) led by SS Khaplang and NSCN(IM) led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. More splinter groups would form over the decades. The NSCN(K) primarily has influence in Myanmar.

Background of the peace process

The Indian government had signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN(IM) – the largest Naga nationalist outfit operating in India – in 1997 and in 2015 begun negotiations for a solution to the Indo-Naga political problem. Last year, Nagaland Governor and the Centre’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi had dismissed the insurgent group’s demand for a separate flag and Constitution and said it was delaying peace negotiations. The NSNC, however, had reiterated its demand. It had also called up Ravi’s removal as the interolcutor.

On September 12, 2019, the NSCN(IM) said 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.

In November this year, the rebel group criticised the Centre’s move to launch counter-insurgency operations against its cadres in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The rebel group had further accused the Centre of using time and again the “sincere approach” of Naga people to suit the government’s “colonial divide and rule policy”. This reflected in the peace talks with the Centre, it added.

Also read: ‘There is only one flag, Constitution in India’: Nagaland governor on rebel group’s demands