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A crucial week to decide the 'fate' of the Peace process in Nagaland

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevSep 20, 2021, 07:33 AM IST

A crucial week to decide the 'fate' of the Peace process in Nagaland

The NNPG of seven Naga groups under soft-spoken convener Kitovi Zhimomi had made 'substantial progress' in parleys with the then Interlocutor and former Governor R N Ravi.

 

New Delhi: Starting Monday, September 20, it will be a crucial week for Nagaland. 

A former top-level Intelligence Bureau sleuth A K Mishra has landed in Dimapur. He has not been named as peace Interlocutor for Naga talks officially, but he is the one for all practical purposes.

Sources in Nagaland reveal that Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma too could arrive at Dimapur.

Sarma is also chairman of BJP-led regional alliance NEDA and enlisting his services exemplifies the government's efforts to discuss things 'politically'.

Nagas have a sizable presence in three states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Nevertheless, there is no official word about Himanta's presence in Kohima or Dimapur for peace talks. 

The NSCN (IM) has a strong presence in the hilly region of Manipur.

After removing R N Ravi as Governor (now to Tamil Nadu), the government has given signals to make reconciliatory moves and expect 'good reciprocation'.

Even the new Governor in Kohima is now a full-time politician, Jagdish Mukhi, a former Delhi-based neta and a popular minister in the Delhi government.
 
The Naga peace talks in formal structure began in 1997. Now, going back to jungles should not be an option in circa 2021. It may well turn out to be like the Afghanistan fiasco - and only the scale would be different.

Ravi has done his part pretty well and ensured the Framework Agreement with NSCN (IM) in August 2015 and a similar Preamble Agreement with seven Militant groups, NNPGs, in November 2017.

The Framework Agreement was worked out when NSCN (IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu was having serious health problems.

Talks progressed well, and the Modi government was hopeful of a final peace pact by October 2019.

For a long time, the NSCN (IM) dominated the Naga insurgency scenario, and the group also committed themselves to greater Nagaland - encompassing the three neighbouring states and parts of Myanmar.

This is what they say - the Naga Contiguous areas. But because of all practical purposes, the Government of India is unable to concede to this demand.

In Manipur, the rise and importance given to Muivah and NSCN (IM) is directly seen as a threat to the territorial integration of the existing Manipur state.

In October 2019, while talks progressed in Delhi, there were reports of violence in some parts of Manipur.

Details are not known, but the NNPG of seven Naga groups under soft-spoken convener Kitovi Zhimomi had made 'substantial progress' in parleys with the then Interlocutor and former Governor R N Ravi.

Now the challenge before the centre and the neo negotiator - if AK Mishra is taken as one - is to strike the right balance.

All eyes are also on Mishra, who will be in Dimapur till September 23. 

On September 18, all 60 legislators under Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio decided to form the United Democratic Alliance, and there would be no opposition in the state assembly.

This marks the coming together of BJP with two regional parties, NPF and NNDP.

The move, they say, is to facilitate a final peace accord 'inclusive' and acceptance and honourable to all.

New Governor Jagdish Mukhi, in his inaugural message, has said, "....soon we will have a comprehensive and inclusive solution to the Naga political issue ensuring utmost honour and dignity to the Naga people."

In his departure message to Naga people and especially youths, R N Ravi also urged them to build 'Nagaland of your dreams" and be ready to accept peace and truth instead of deceit and violence.

Half the things on the fate of Naga Peace parleys could be clear on Monday, September 20, possibly.

The meeting with NNPGs would be more or less on expected lines and a formality, as they have clarified that they do not insist on contentious demands for Flag and Constitution.

Common citizens in Nagaland could be keeping their fingers crossed about the whole scenario.

All these talks are being carried out on the backdrop of the ceasefire between the Indian army and militants.

Security agencies, forces and the concerned leaders also reviewed these ceasefires from militant groups.

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