National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isaac-Muivah) chairman Isaac Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah arrived in Nagaland's commercial capital Dimapur on Tuesday afternoon to an emotional welcome by thousands of Nagas.
The two leaders signalled a new accommodative spirit by speaking the language of reconciliation and peace.
"This is a crucial moment in the Naga history. We will not let you down. The Indian government has assured us of an honourable solution. It has to come through peaceful means because violence cannot bring peace," they said.
And in an oblique reference to their rival but weaker faction led by S S Khaplang, Swu and Muivah said the NSCN (I-M) invited everybody to come forward to work together for a final solution.
The two leaders, who have been underground for the past 40 years and who have come to Nagaland after a self-imposed exile of over 37 years, became emotional at the sight of thousands of Nagas, dressed in colourful traditional attire, gathered at the Dimapur airport to receive them.
"We belong to you. We are responsible only to you. Whatever you tell us, we are ready to listen to you," Muivah said in a short speech at the airport.
The NSCN (IM) leaders arrived in Dimapur from Kolkata after having met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya and his predecessor Jyoti Basu.
A week before, the duo had spent time in Delhi meeting political leaders.
At Dimapur, the two did not bring up the group's demand for integrating all Naga-inhabited areas spread over the three states of Assam, Manipur and Aruanachal Pradesh, besides parts of Myanmar.
The NSCN (I-M) has been seeking a single administrative unit for the Nagas. However, convincing New Delhi to grant it would be the toughest job for the two Naga leaders. The other big issue Swu and Muivah will have to tackle is the issue of sovereignty for Nagas.
Both are expected to spend at least a month in their general headquarter located 40 km off Dimapur town. They are also expected to meet a cross section of the people from both Nagaland and Manipur before returning to Delhi.