This is probably the longest peace discussion ever held in independent India, said sources in Union home ministry Credit: EastMojo image

New Delhi: Call it a victory of the NSCN-IM leadership or a strategy of the Centre to control of the law-and-order situation in the country ahead of the official formation of the two Union territories (UTs) of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, the Union government has softened its stand on the deadline to conclude the Naga peace talks by October 31.

During the crucial meeting held between the NSCN-IM and the Centre in New Delhi on Monday, representatives informed the participants that the Centre has decided to withdraw the deadline of October 31, 2019 to conclude the negotiations with all Naga groups.

Sources in the Union home ministry informed EastMojo that despite two back-to-back inconclusive meetings held in the past 28 days, Monday’s meeting was started with a cordial atmosphere. “The Centre is unlikely to insist on October 31, 2019 as the deadline to sign the Naga peace talks. The peace parleys with the Naga insurgent groups has been on for last 22 years. This is probably the longest discussion ever in independent India,” sources said.

Elaborating on the Centre’s move, sources further said that the decision was taken as the government of India doesn’t want to take risk in combating any law-and-order situation, should it arise, on or after October 31.

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“On October 31, 2019, two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — are coming up. Amid increasing intervention from Pakistan, the Centre doesn’t want to take risk in law-and-order problem in other parts of the country, especially in the Northeast by unnecessarily sticking to a deadline. Since the government of India has already spent 22 long years, there is no harm in waiting for some more months to sign the Naga peace talks,” the sources said, adding: “Centre doesn’t want an unnecessary delay in inking the Naga peace process, but it doesn’t want to face any problem in the country, at least in the next 72 or 96 hours.”

On both the occasions, the much-awaited meetings failed to melt the ice as representatives from both the NSCN-IM and the Centre were seen sticking to their core demands — separate flag and constitution.

Earlier, the Centre set a deadline of October 31 to conclude the process of talks with the Naga rebel groups. The Centre has already made it clear that the demand of separate flag and constitution would not be accepted.

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