NE law and order situation not ''deteriorated: Patil

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Shillong, May 13 (UNI) Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said the Centre will not interfere in the factional fighting between the three NSCN groups- NSCN (IM), NSCN (K) and NSCN (Unification) - that is hampering the peace process in Nagaland.

''We will leave it to the state government to resolve the issues of the fight between the three groups. But the Centre will certainly extend its help if the state government asks for it,'' Mr Patil told reporters at the Raj Bhawan here.

Mr Patil is in Shillong to attend the Assam Rifles commander's conference. During the day, he met Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy, the Chief Secretary and the DGP. He will be visiting Bholaganj along with Mr Roy tomorrow to see the border fencing along the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border. He is scheduled to visit Nagaland tomorrow to assess the overall law and order situation with senior government, Army, Assam Rifles officials, and other para-military forces.

The Home Minister said the law and order situation in the restive North Eastern region has not ''deteriorated'' over the last seven years.

''In some states, the law and order situation has improved but in some it has worsened. However, the overall situation of law and order in the North Eastern region has remained static over the last seven years,'' Mr Patil said adding that in Jammu and Kashmir the law and order situation has improved over the years.

When asked about arming of civilians in insurgency-torn state of Manipur to fight against militants, the Home Minister said the Centre has not issued any direction to the state government in this regard.

''We have not interfered with the Manipur's government's decision to arm the villagers to fight the militants,'' he said.

Earlier, addressing a special Sainik Sammelan at the Assam Rifles headquarters here, the Home Minister said India's North East region would play a crucial role in fostering economic and cultural ties with the neighbouring South East Asian Countries.

''India is increasingly focusing on the Southeast Asian countries in terms of trade and energy security,'' he said, while stressing on the need to have closer ties with our neighbouring Asian countries to promote trade and tourism to improve the economy of the region.


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