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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Naga peace process in doubt
Map
A leading separatist group in the north-east Indian state of Nagaland has made fresh demands in return for a ceasefire deal with the Indian Government.

The group - the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) - has waged an armed campaign for two decades before agreeing to a ceasefire three years ago.

But the agreement is due to expire at the end of the month and the NSCN has now set pre-conditions to continue with the ceasefire.

A BBC correspondent says the move could threaten the peace process and set off similar demands from other rebel groups in the region.

Demands

The conditions laid down by the NSCN includes a demand that the ceasefire cover all areas in the north-eastern region inhabited by ethnic Nagas, and not just the state of Nagaland.

Naga guerrillas
A violent campaign that lasted two decades
The group also wants all NSCN prisoners in Indian jails to be released and military operations against the group to stop.

It says it has lost more guerrillas during the ceasefire than at any time before it and, therefore, will renew the agreement only if it helps reach a genuine settlement of their dispute with Delhi.

The NSCN ran a violent campaign against the Indian Government for two decades, fighting for an independent state.

But in 1997, it declared a ceasefire and started negotiations with Delhi.

The NSCN now says the ceasefire has made no difference to the process of dialogue and accused the Indian Government of not taking the negotiations seriously.

Violence

The group also alleges the Indian Government was more keen to protect the guerrillas of a breakaway faction of the NSCN, led by a Burmese Naga rebel leader, SS Khaplang.

The two rebel factions have often been involved in violent clashes with each other, in an effort to secure their power base.

The NSCN blames the Nagaland state government as well, for what it says has been a conspiracy to disrupt negotiations.

Observers say that if the NSCN decides to break off negotiations, it would be a major setback for efforts to restore peace in the region.

The NSCN is the strongest rebel group in the troubled north-eastern region and analysts say many smaller groups may follow its lead and step back from possible negotiations with Delhi.

The seven states that make up the region have a history of ethnic violence, as rebel groups fight Delhi's rule.

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See also:

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21 Nov 97 | From Our Own Correspondent
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