In a setback to the ongoing peace talks between the government and the banned HNLC, top leaders of the underground outfit today said that they would not take part in the next round of talks unless the government dropped all pending cases against them and signed a ceasefire agreement.
In a statement issued today, HNLC chairman and commander-in-chief Bobby R. Marwein and general secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said that the outfit actively sought political dialogue with the Government of India in an effort to establish lasting peace.
“We firmly believe that a political solution is essential for sustainable peace. Therefore, it is crucial that peace talks are not contingent upon predetermined terms. If conditions are to be imposed, they should be agreed upon by both parties rather than dictated by one side alone,” the statement said.
It also said that currently, the initial round of official talks has commenced under the guidance of the former vice chairman.
“However, the government insists on the participation of the chairman and general secretary. We have clearly stated that unless all pending cases against us are withdrawn or a framework agreement for a ceasefire is signed, the HNLC chairman or general secretary cannot participate in the discussions. Officially, we have entrusted our newly appointed vice chairman, Teimiki Laloo, with overseeing the process and evaluating its progress,” it added.
Stating that peace talks are intended to facilitate a solution through negotiations and diplomatic efforts, the HNLC alleged that the Government of India seemed to perceive these talks as a form of surrender or disarmament.
“It is important to note that several armed groups in the North East region have already surrendered and disbanded their organisations. Despite this, they have not been granted a permanent political solution. This lack of resolution has led to the emergence of new groups, exacerbating the situation,” it said.
“We desire a lasting peace that encompasses freedom and justice while acknowledging and respecting the concerns and aspirations of the Hynniewtrep people as a unified entity. We firmly oppose any notion of temporary peace that could jeopardise our national existence and right to self-determination,” the outfit added.