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Naga peace talks to move 'faster' after May 2, NSCN (IM) urged to be 'realistic'

WebdeskApr 19, 2021, 02:10 PM IST

Naga peace talks to move 'faster' after May 2, NSCN (IM) urged to be 'realistic'

New Delhi: There is talk of yet another deadline to end the Naga peace talks that began in 1997 but got stuck over some issues which were not negotiable by the Government of India. It is being circulated now that once the business of elections and their results and government(s) formation are over especially in Assam and West Bengal, the Modi government would come to the board room for final peace parleys. "Things are getting delayed.....we do not want anymore delay as in some months Manipur elections too would be round the corner," a source said. Now, comes the role of stakeholders in these peace talks. An objective analysis is the need of the hour as a high level of mistrust existed between two sides in the past. Home Minister Amit Shah has been reportedly mandated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the final rounds of spade works. Shah has instructed Naga leaders including former Chief Minister T R Zeliang to pass on the message to the NSCN (IM) that they should be "realistic" in facing the challenge. NSCN (IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah has been specially sent a message to this effect by the Home Ministry. Shah had met state Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Zeliang (also Leader of the Opposition) on March 18 and asked them to carry forward the entire process. Both the leaders were also told that the twin contentious issues of Flag and Constitution as demanded by NSCN (IM) leader Muivah could not be accepted or negotiated at all. Rio and Zeliang also met a NSCN (IM) delegation; and importantly- things should move 'faster' now. A few months of delay would again bring in 'Manipur elections' as another delay-tactic or at least a reason for the same. The Home Ministry is also in touch with the Manipur government. In 2019, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren had successfully impressed upon Amit Shah to clarify that 'no final word' has been said or could be said until the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have been consulted. In the meantime, the Union Home Ministry has this year also asked BJP leader and Nagaland deputy Chief Minister Y Patton to make use of his good office and 'influence' to bring all concerned on board to solve the long pending problem. A resolution adopted at the BJP Nagaland Executive meeting on April 17 also echoed the positive sentiment about the talks process. The resolution lauded the NDA government under PM Narendra Modi for having “a positive steps for settlement of the Indo-Naga political problems by entering into a framework agreement with the NSCN (I-M) and agreed position on resolution of Naga political issue with the NNPG (WC).” The meeting had BJP central leadership's blessings as BJP general secretary B L Santhosh and Nalin Kohli (BJP in-charge Nagaland) also addressed the meeting virtually. In fact, from the Government of India point of view, it has been made clear that mushrooming of so called 'more and more Naga armed groups' is neither appreciable nor acceptable. Leaders such as T R Zeliang, CM Neiphiu Rio and even BJP leader Y Patton would also appreciate this refrain. There are already 11 Naga militant groups. Seven of them operating within the state of Nagaland have come under one umbrella organisation, NNPG headed by N Kitovi Zhimomi and these groups are keen for an early solution and signing of a pact.The Government is ready for making the peace talks broad-based by getting every key stakeholders in the ecosystem. The NSCN (IM), the NNPG (of seven groups) and various organisations including Gaon Bura (GB) Federations need to come together. In discussions between Shah, Chief Minister Rio and LoP T R Zeliang - one refrain that came up is --"no group should be left out". Various Tribal bodies and Naga Hoho should be also on board. And perhaps more importantly, "more than asking who is right, it is high time every stakeholder should come forward to understand the gravity of the issue and lay emphasis on what is right for the Nagas". Recently, Zeliang told a key meeting at Kohima underlining the spirit of 'discussions' he held with the Home Minister (in March) that - "We should take lessons from the past and not repeat them again". The Naga history has been witness to several attempts for solution to insurgency through accords signed in 1960 and also in the 1970s. However, the Shillong Accord signed on November 11, 1975 had triggered off fratricidal killings and creation of new groups. Any solution to the Naga problem cannot be based on an undependable 'premise' that a single pact would cure a multitude of socio-political problems.The solution should be inclusive. The agony of Nagas is well known; and their concerns are real. Nothing should be done on grounds of ethnicity and tribalism. The Government of India is firm that such a tendency would only breed further inequality. NNPG leadership under N Kitovi has communicated to the PMO that the "very success" of Naga peace pact would have direct link to the Prime Minister's Act East Policy.


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