petering out, if India behaves like this, then will we have a choice but to go underground once again and take up arms?” says Kenye.
‘Why will underground groups deal with Delhi if it can’t honour agreements?’
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in conversation with Esha Roy
On how he intends to respond to the petroleum ministry’s letter asking Nagaland to withdraw a December notification inviting expressions of interest for oil exploration:
“I held a meeting with my ministers and senior officials on December 7 and we have decided not to rescind any of our notifications, as well as go ahead with the process of awarding works to companies so far shortlisted. We have not replied to the petroleum minister’s letter yet [Rio spoke to The Indian Express on December 12] but will do so very soon. The minister has called our legislation unconstitutional. This is incorrect, what we have done is entirely within the ambit of the Constitution and in keeping with Article 371 A which confers upon the state of Nagaland special status.”
On the pressure from the ministry:
“Why has the Union petroleum ministry woken up now, just as we are about to actually award works to the companies that we have shortlisted? Why was there no objection when the rules were framed and when they were informed of it last year? The ministry’s attitude is in contravention of Article 371 A of the Constitution.’’
On the implications of the dispute:
“This is a very very big issue in Nagaland, and we Nagas are very sensitive about it. The Indian government is trying to work out a solution with underground groups to bring the Indo-Naga conflict to a final resolution. But why will the underground groups, or even the rest of the Naga people, enter into an agreement with the Indian government if the government is incapable of even honouring the first 16-point agreement of 1960?” [The agreement spelt out Nagaland’s status within the Union of India].
On Article 371 A:
“Legal experts [consulted by the government both within the state and outside] have made the matter very clear. We have no option but to strictly