Manipur, Nagaland under Delhi scanner


New Delhi, Feb 22 : Union home minister P. Chidambaram has put Manipur and Nagaland under the scanner and sent a firm message to the militant groups, including the NSCN (Isak-Muivah), following the recent disturbances in Manipur.
He has also instructed the governments of the two states to maintain peace. 
An apparently peeved Chidambaram is learnt to have taken an uncompromising view of the situation in the region, especially after the killings of three government employees posted in Ukhrul district of Manipur.
The Centre fears a potential communal fall-out of the situation as the Meitei groups have accused the NSCN (I-M) of murdering the employees. 
The Meiteis and the Nagas are at loggerheads since the NSCN (I-M) revived the old Naga demand for uniting all the contiguous Naga-inhabited areas. 
Chidambaram yesterday called a high-level meeting to discuss the Naga problem. It was attended by senior home ministry officials and the chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group in Nagaland, Lt Gen. Mandhata Singh.
One of the causes for Chidambaram’s stern warning is the untimely reaction of the NSCN (I-M) through a leader of the outfit in Dimapur immediately after the home minister’s visit to Manipur and Nagaland. 
The leader of the outfit wrote to Singh, criticising Chidambaram and accusing the Centre of neglecting the Naga problem and endangering the ceasefire, sources said. 
During his visit to Nagaland, Chidambaram had indicated that the solution to the Naga problem lay within the ambit of the Constitution.
The Centre has reacted to the letter, which many term as a knee-jerk reaction from the rebels, in the run-up to the general elections by saying that no major change can be expected before the elections. According to sources, the home ministry feels a definite forward movement of the decade-long negotiation will be brought if the UPA returns to power. 
The NSCN (I-M), already under pressure from Delhi and Imphal, has constituted its own “special investigation team” to probe the murders of the three Manipur government employees. 
The central security forces, mainly the Assam Rifles, are at loggerheads with the NSCN (I-M) since December when five Assam Rifles personnel, including an officer, were “abducted” by the rebels.
Soon after, the Assam Rifles vacated a rebel camp in Ukhrul. 
However, with the killing of an SDO and two of his subordinate staff by unidentified gunmen last week, the Centre sees risk of communal tension in Manipur. 
“The issue came up at the meeting and the Centre is concerned,” a home ministry source said.