Naga peace process inches faster: Militant groups to meet 60 MLAs

    22-Jul-2021   
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New Delhi: Substantial progress was made in talks till October 2019 but the parleys hit a roadblock when NSCN (IM) insisted on a separate Flag and Constitution for Nagas as the Narendra Modi government rejected both demands.

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Putting the 24-years old Naga peace process on a faster track, eight militant groups including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IM faction) and an umbrella body of seven groups Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) would now sit across the table along with all 60 elected state legislators.
 
This announcement was made by former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, T. R. Zeliang after the newly set up Core Committee for peace met top NSCN (IM) leaders Thuingaleng Muivah
and Q Tuccou at Dimapur in Nagaland.
 
Among others, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio also attended.
 
“Now our expectation is Naga groups will sit across the table along with the 60 elected members. This will help us to reach a common ground with the government of India,” Zeliang later said.
 
The meeting was very “smooth sailing,” said Zeliang, the co-chairman of the panel, adding “they understood our point, we also understood their contention.”
 
The meeting of Naga groups and 60 MLAs will put things on track “to arrive at some sort of conclusion”, he emphasised.
 
The Naga peace process and parleys between the central government and NSCN (IM) first began in August 1997 and since then multiple rounds of negotiations have been held at Zurich, Bangkok, Singapore and New Delhi.
 
Violence and arson have been the story of the people of the state for the last seven decades and now there is a loud clamour for peace and a final solution to the Naga insurgency problem.
 
Substantial progress was made in talks till October 2019 but the parleys hit a roadblock when NSCN (IM) insisted on a separate Flag and Constitution for Nagas.
 
The Narendra Modi government rejected both demands.
 
The NNPG–a conglomeration of seven militant groups–however, says they are not insisting on any such demands and want an early solution to the problem and bring an end to violence.
 
Chief Minister Rio and other panel members including Zeliang also held a separate meeting with NNPG leaders including the convenor N. Kitovi Zhimomi on Tuesday.
 
Kitovi said: "As and when the Government of India invites for signing the peace document we will sit across because there will be only agreement and one solution."
 
There are other issues also related to the history of rebellion in Nagaland.
 
In fact, in January this year, Nagaland Governor R. N. Ravi, a former Intelligence officer peace Interlocutor, had lashed out at the extortion culture.
 
He had said–"The menace of rampant extortion, under the guise of illegal taxation by anti-social elements, has not been fully curbed despite best efforts by the police and security forces."
 
The NSCN (IM) also has a strong presence in the neighbouring state of Manipur which also goes to the assembly polls in March 2022.
 
Nagaland Chief Minister Rio, who runs a coalition government with BJP, had recently said that the Naga political movement went through several phases since 1929.
 
“If the present generation cannot secure any form of solution under the Indian Constitution, then the upcoming generations would be left to seek a solution," he had said.
 
NNPG leadership under N Kitovi has communicated to the PMO that the "very success" of the Naga peace pact would have a direct link to the Prime Minister's Act East Policy.
 
The official line solution should be inclusive. The agony of Nagas is well known, and their concerns are genuine.
Nothing should be done on grounds of ethnicity and tribalism.
 
The Government of India is firm that such a tendency would only breed further conflicts.