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Warring Naga rebels play football to patch up

K Anurag in Guwahati | September 13, 2008 12:01 IST

The unrelenting efforts by civil society groups in Nagaland to broker peace between the two warring factions of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland has reportedly made some headway. Leaders of the two factions of the rebel group -- NSCN-IM and NSCN-K -- have agreed to work out modalities for a possible merger.

The NSCN, which was formed in 1980, split in 1988. The two factions have since been engaged in a bloody conflict for geographical and financial control, which has claimed hundreds of lives and disrupted the peace talks between the NSCN-IM and the Centre.

Thanks to the efforts of the Church-led Forum for Naga Reconciliation, representatives of both the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K met at Akuvuto Baptist Church Mission Centre near Dimapur this week. 

According to sources, both meetings ended on a positive note, but neither group was willing to make a statement on the state of affairs.

The meeting was attended by five representatives from each of the NSCN factions, representatives from the NSCN-Unification group and the Naga National Council.

The NSCN-Unification group is a new faction of the NSCN that was formed by a senior breakaway leader of the NSCN-IM with backing from the NSCN-K.

The Naga rebel groups even plan to organise and participate in a football match at Kohima on October 9 to showcase the 'progress' made in the reconciliation effort.

The football match will be played between a team comprising members from both the factions of the NSCN and a team from Naga Civil Society groups at Khouchiezie in Kohima.

This is not the first time that football, the state's most popular sport, will be used to make peace between warring factions. A civil society team called the Naga Parliament played football with Naga rebels for the 'Naga reconciliation trophy' at Chiang Mai in Thailand on August 20.

Both the factions of the NSCN are under tremendous pressure from the people of Nagaland to patch up and end the fratricidal killings that have affected the uneasy peace in Nagaland.

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