Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang, led by dreaded militant Niki Sumi, on Wednesday announced a ceasefire and said that it has contacted the central government for initiating peace dialogue.
The NSCN-K had signed a ceasefire with the Centre in 2001 but unilaterally abrogated it in 2015 when the then 'chairman' of the group, S S Khaplang, was alive.
Sumi is the prime accused in the killing of 18 Indian Army soldiers in Manipur in 2015 and the National Investigation Agency had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for his head.
In a statement, Sumi said the NSCN-K has been striving all these years to achieve an honourable and acceptable political solution to the Naga issue and the group is also conscious of the overwhelming sentiments among the Naga people for an early solution to this long standing matter.
It said that the NSCN-K is aware of the 'sincere and genuine efforts' made by the central government in the recent past to find a final and lasting solution to the Naga issue with the involvement of all the stakeholders.
'Therefore NSCN has resolved to strengthen and support the peace process at this crucial juncture. Our leaders have established contact with the officials of government of India in this connection.
'To facilitate the process and keeping in view the desire of the Naga people particularly Naga civil society organisations and NGOs, the NSCN has further decided to revive the ceasefire with immediate effect by revoking the earlier decision of unilateral abrogation of the ceasefire in 2015,' the statement said.
The group also said that it expected the central government to respond positively by honouring the group's decision as a confidence building measure in the larger interests of peace in Nagaland and Naga people in general.
A home ministry official said this is the last group of Indian origin leaders and cadres operating from Myanmar.
Their joining peace process will give a boost to Naga peace process as the remaining chunk of NSCN-K is Myanmar centric and is irrelevant to the government, the official said.
The other dominant group -- the NSCN-IM -- had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the central government in 1997 and since then engaged in peace negotiations.
The NSCN-IM had signed a Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find a permanent solution.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India's independence in 1947.
However, the talks with the NSCN-IM is currently going nowhere as the group has been insisting for a separate Naga flag and constitution, a demand rejected by the central government.