The appointment of Khango Konyak as the new NSCN(K) chairman, after the death of outfit’s founder Shangwang Shangyung Khaplang last week, may throw open several possibilities for the Centre’s Naga peace talks, an Indian Express report has said. Centre’s talk with Khaplang, who was a Myanmarese national, was always non-starter since he never accepted an Indian passport unlike Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu (of the rival NSCN-IM faction) had done to return back to the country.
Even as Khaplang was a Hemi Naga from Myanmar, Konyak is from Nagaland. It will given an opportunity for the Centres to reach out to Konyak in order to get the NSCN(K) back into ceasefire mode. Although the outfit had had signed a ceasefire with the Centre in in 2001, Khaplang discontinued it in 2015 after reportedly discovering that New Delhi did not send out any invitations for talks to his group outfit, while it was in talks with NSCN(IM).
Konyak had hold the rank of Lieutenant General in the Naga Army, the NSCN(K)’s armed wing. He was outfit’s vice-chairman in May 2011. Konyak had undergone training in guerrilla warfare training in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and China in 1960s. He was also outfit’s head the ‘Konyak Region’ and the ‘Tuensang-Mon Region’ – the NSCN(K)’s administrative territories in Nagaland – and is considered to have a strong influence in the eastern part of the state.
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State Chief Minister Shourhozelie Liezietsu and his predecessor TR Zeliang have recently mentioned the efforts they had taken to get Khaplang to agree to a ceasefire. With Konyak’s nationality likely to be an advantage for the Centre, leaders within the outfit , ho represent several Naga communities of Myanmar are not likely to give in easily, fearing they could be left out of negotiations.