Indian official says key rebel leader dies in Myanmar

Rijiju, however, said India can not talk about Myanmarese citizens, who are part of NSCN-K.

He reiterated that talks are being held under the framework of the Constitution and that the government is ready to even talk to the Paresh Baruah faction of Ulfa's anti-talk group provided they adhere to Indian Constitution and come for talks. However, no official announcement has been made from the NSCN-K yet on the appointment of a new chairman. In 2015, his group had attacked an Army convoy, killing 18 soldier and was wanted by the National Investigation Agency for the attack.

Born in April 1940 in Waktham village just east of Myanmar's Pangsau Pass, Khaplang is the youngest of his 10 siblings and was also leading the newly-formed United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia. The group, however, split up soon after.

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While referring to the government sources media reports said that the ailing leader had died of diabetes-related complications.

Negotiations with the rival NSCN faction have continued uninterrupted despite the death of Isak Chishi Swu last summer, the official said while talking to the media, and have reached a stage where granular details of constitutional arrangements are now being discussed.

Rijiju also contended that the death of Khaplang will also affect other militant outfits from the northeast, now sheltering in Myanmar.

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Khaplang also entered into a ceasefire with the central government in 1997 but abrogated it on March 28, 2015.

This was so especially at a time when the Naga people are extremely in need of elderly and experienced wisdom of their national movement leaders, to set right the course of the Naga destiny, which is being misinterpreted and re-interpreted in the present day scenario of internal conflicts, he said. "Though God has called you home to be with Him before you could see the end goal of our common struggle and that this reality pains us greatly, those of us who are still alive will continue to run the course for the sake of our upcoming generations in keeping with our pledge to our people".

There was no immediate reaction from the rebel group or key tribal bodies including Naga Hoho and Naga Mothers' Association.

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  • Ryan Wade