Assam CM Himanta meets NSCN-IM leader Muivah, discusses Naga issue

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Deputed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met senior National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leader Thuingaleng Muivah in Nagaland’s Dimapur on Tuesday.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was with Sarma during the hour-long closed-door meeting. What transpired there was in the realms of speculations.

The meeting comes a day after Sarma’s purported intense deliberations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Monday night.

Sarma landed at Dimapur at 12:30 pm and straightway went to the private residence of Rio in the town. Later, both left for the meeting venue.

At the end of the meeting, the Assam CM visited a resort in the vicinity and held separate discussions with former Intelligence Bureau special director AK Mishra and state BJP leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, party chief Temjen Imna Along Longkumer, and some Ministers.

Mishra had met Muivah on Monday and after the meeting, NSCN-IM leader R Raising told journalists it would be meaningless to sign an agreement that denies the Nagas their flag and constitution.

Prior to leaving for Dimapur, Sarma told journalists in Guwahati that it was a “routine” visit, being undertaken for a “political reason”.

ALSO READ | Home Minister Amit Shah authorised me to hold preliminary talks with ULFA: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

“I keep going to Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. There is nothing new. My visit is political. I am going there for a political reason,” he had said.

He also disclosed that he had met the NSCN-IM leadership informally three-four times in Delhi.

Given Sarma’s involvement in the Naga issue, the Congress feared that he might compromise on the state’s territorial interest considering the NSCN-IM’s demand for the creation of “Greater Nagalim” by integrating the Naga-inhabited areas of some neighbouring states with Nagaland.

“…The Manipur CM (N Biren Singh) has been also asked to be a part of the talks along with the Assam CM. But we have come know that the Manipur CM has decided not to participate in the talks due to differences on the Greater Nagalim issue,” Assam Congress chief Bhupen Kumar Borah said.

He asked in what capacity Sarma held the talks with Muivah and if the CM could do this without taking the state Assembly and the cabinet into confidence.

Meanwhile, Sarma on Tuesday revealed that his government was informally holding talks with Paresh Baruah, chairman of rebel group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

“Assam government has maintained some communication with ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah, who is now the outfit’s chairman. I asked the Union Home Minister if I can directly talk to Baruah should there be such a situation. He gave the permission,” Sarma said.

“If he (Baruah) is willing, I will talk to him over the phone or through other media. If the process gets a push, the Government of India will get involved at some point in time,” the CM said.

He said these were early days and hence, no conclusion should be drawn. It is going to be a long affair, he added.