Kohima: NSCN(IM) has rejected "rumours" that the outfit was backtracking on integration and sovereignty, saying they were the "core issues" and there can be "no solution whatsoever" without fulfilling the two issues.
However, NSCN (IM) general secretary Th Muivah acknowledged that the "first initiative" to seek a political solution as opposed to a military one to the Naga freedom struggle was taken "from the Indian side."
"If the Government of India respects the rights of the Nagas, Nagas can come closer to India, otherwise there can be no meeting point. Therefore, sovereignty of Nagas has to be worked out," he said.
According to Muivah, the Naga issue was reaching the "crucial political stage" and with change of mind in the Indian leadership, it is time for Nagas to come together and work collectively in the interest of the Naga nation.
In his address to the 69th Naga Independence Day celebration held yesterday at the outfit's council headquarters at Hebron, 115 km from the state capital, he said, "Do you want to drive away the Nagas further? Mind that without integration there will be no solution whatsoever... don't doubt, we are standing for integration at any cost."
"Remember, without integration there can never be a solution," he said. Integration means that all Nagas spread across different states and countries must live under one administrative umbrella, he said.
Maintaining that rumours about NSCN (IM) backtracking on integration and sovereignty were the "handiwork of external forces with vested interests", Muivah said that the Government of India has responded to the demand for integration by saying "Yes, let us see the way to work it out."
On sovereignty, he said that there was no way the NSCN (IM) would give it up as the whole idea of the Naga freedom movement was based on that very foundation.
"Our unique history and position must be respected. Otherwise there can be no meeting points," he said.
Muivah said that after both the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India understood each other's position, they agreed to share sovereign powers based on the understanding that sovereignty lies with the people in a democracy.
"And we decided to call it as framework agreement." He exuded confidence that the "framework agreement" would provide "enduring, inclusive peaceful coexistence between the two entities."
Muivah also acknowledged that some "practical difficulties" have to be solved but not at the expense of the Nagas.
If Nagas irrespective of groups, factions or tribes forgive each other and forget past bitterness, "then God will surely not fail the Naga people," he added.
Maintaining that the Naga people will respect the rights of the neighbours, Muivah said,"They should also respect our rights too. Please understand it seriously. We will be good neighbours forever."
Representatives from apex Naga civil organisations including the Naga Hoho, ENPO and UNC also shared messages on the occasion.
Speakers representing Naga communities living in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar appealed to the NSCN (IM) not to sideline them from the final solution.