Will the oldest militant struggle in the country come to an end and that too on terms acceptable to all factions concerned? The Naga peace talks, historic in a sense, may have got off to a smooth start after two top rebel leaders met Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, among other senior leaders. Following the initial meetings, there was all-round optimism in New Delhi. But in the Northeast, particularly in the states neighbouring Nagaland like Manipur and Assam, apprehensions about the possibility of a one-sided agreement still remain.
However, there is no denying that the talks between the top Indian leadership and Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, chairman and general secretary respectively of the militant National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), is a positive step. It was after years of persuasion that the two NSCN leaders ended their 35-year exile and agreed to talks on Indian soil. And the initial signals from the Naga delegation have been positive. "We praise the wisdom of the government of India. There is a lot better understanding on its part," Muivah said. "The prime minister and the Indian leadership are very sincere," Swu added.