Representational image Credit: EastMojo image

A candlelight vigil being held in Manipur’s Ukhrul on Monday night in view of the ongoing Naga peace talks

Imphal: Amid the ongoing Naga peace talks between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) that continues to find an amicable solution for the 22-year-long negotiations, Nagas across borders held a candlelight vigil on Monday evening under the aegis of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF).

In Manipur’s Ukhrul district, where NSCN-IM secretary-general Thuingaleng Muivah hails from, thousands of people gathered at the Community Circle, also known as Gandhi Memorial, and lit up candles with fervent hope of peace and tranquility in the Naga-inhabited areas as the negotiations are likely to be in the last leg.

Organised by Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS), an apex students’ union body in the hill district, under the aegis of NSF, the candlelight vigil and prayer session was held in solidarity with the Naga negotiation for an inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution to the protracted Indo-Naga peace process for lasting peace and tranquility in the Naga-inhabited areas.

The candlelight vigil was organised in Ukhrul, Manipur by Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong under the aegis of Naga Students’ Federation

Similar vigils were also seen in districts headquarters of Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel, other stronghold Naga-inhabited districts in the state, with students, youths and the elderly gathering in huge number with prayers in their lips.

Apart from Nagaland, Manipur has a sizeable population of Nagas occupying the majority of hill areas and the people feel that any outcome of the negotiations without an inclusive solution will be the biggest mistake on the part of the Government of India.

“Without inclusive solution taking along all the Nagas inhabiting in a different part of Northeast India and Nagas from Myanmar, the movement will continue and the spirit of nationalism will rise higher than before,” said AS Wungnaoshang, president of Naga People’s Front (NPF), Ukhrul unit.

According to reports, in the next few days, both the Centre and NSCN-IM are expected to be under immense pressure as the October 31 deadline gets closer. However, reports also said that, with the Naga group adamant on its demands of a separate Naga national flag and constitution and something the Centre is unwilling to give in to, the talks may likely be extended until both sides come to an amicable solution.

“Without flag and constitution, what is the point of negotiating for the past 22 years? When the Nagas, young and old alike, considered the flag as a covenant between the God and Naga people, what is the point of entering into ceasefire for such long years? That will amount to wasting of time on the part of the government of India,” Wungnaoshang added.

A mass silent prayer being held in Higher Themzan Academy, Ukhrul for peaceful Naga solution

As negotiations get intense between the Centre and NSCN-IM, Nagas across borders are hoping for the best and feel that there shouldn’t be any confusion and complications between the two parties while dealing with some of the contentious issues.

Norbert Khayi, another resident participating at the vigil, said: “Every Naga, young and old, is anticipating overall inclusiveness and conclusion of the talks. So, if the deal is signed without the inclusiveness of all the Nagas, then it will open another bloodshed like that of the 1975 Shillong Accord. Moreover, it will be the saddest thing and worst impact on the younger generation of the Nagas.”

“It should be unanimous; there should not be any division. It should be inclusiveness of the all the Nagas,” he added.

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