GUWAHATI, Oct 18 - The Government of India has set a deadline of October 31 to conclude the process of talks with the Naga rebel groups. The Centre has also made it clear that the demand of the Issac Muivah-led National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) for separate flag and constitution would not be accepted.
Highly placed sources in the Government of India told The Assam Tribune that the government has already made its stand �very clear� to all the Naga rebel groups and they would have to take a decision whether to sign a peace agreement or not by October 31. �Formalities for signing an agreement may take some time, but it is clear that there will be no more talk after October 31. Moreover, the government will not sign separate agreements with different groups and there will be only one agreement,� sources added.
It may be mentioned here that the NSCN (I-M) and Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an umbrella organisation of six rebel outfits, are talking with the Government of India through Governor RN Ravi, who is also the interlocutor of the Naga talks.
On the decision to set a deadline to conclude the talks, sources said that discussions cannot go on for an unlimited period and the status quo has affected Nagaland and its people. �The Government of India has made it clear what it can offer and now the ball is in the court of the rebel groups. If they are not keen on signing an agreement, it is up to them to take a call. Moreover, the rebel groups will have to surrender their weapons before signing of an agreement. The NSCN (I-M) is still demanding that Nagaland should have separate flag and constitution and the government has made it clear that such a demand is not acceptable,� sources added.
Sources said that the negotiating rebel groups were fully aware of the deadline set up by the government to conclude the process of talks as they were informed about the decision way back in the month of July.
�The government is firm on its stand that there would be no more talk with any organisation which wants to talk with the threat of gun.
�Such tactics is not acceptable. India is a democratic country. Any organisation or individual has the right to raise demands in a peaceful democratic manner and the government would listen to such demands. The Naga people can also raise the demands for flag and constitution later by peaceful democratic means. But trying to force the government with threat of gun is not acceptable,� sources added.
Though sources did not go into the details of what the government has offered to the Naga rebel groups, a brief outline has been spelt out. Sources said that the Government of India has accepted the unique history of Naga people and more powers would be given to the State, while the number of seats in Nagaland Assembly would be increased. An Upper House would be created in Nagaland, while a financial package would be given to the State. One autonomous council each would be created in the States of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and a pan-Naga cultural body would be formed. There will be a special package for the rehabilitation of the cadres of the rebel groups. However, there will be no reorganisation of boundaries of any State, sources said.
Nagaland Governor RN Ravi today briefed members of civil society organisations about the progress of talks and the offers made to the rebel groups as the government is �keen on inclusive solution by taking all the stakeholders on board�, sources added.