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‘Ball in Indian govt’s court’ — Nagaland group NSCN-IM sticks to separate flag & constitution demand

During '76th Naga Independence Day' celebrations, NSCN-IM head Th. Muivah said Naga flag & constitution ‘indivisible parts of recognised sovereignty and unique history’ of Naga people.  

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM)’s Thuingaleng Muivah waves as he leaves after attending the 76th Naga Independence Day celebrations at Hebron, in Dimapur | ANI  
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM)’s Thuingaleng Muivah waves as he leaves after attending the 76th Naga Independence Day celebrations at Hebron, in Dimapur | ANI  

Guwahati: The separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) Sunday reiterated that it would be sticking by its demand for a separate flag and constitution. 

“The Naga flag and constitution are indivisible parts of the recognised sovereignty and unique history. We believe the Indian leaders, too, understand it,” Thuingaleng Muivah, NSCN-IM’s ato kilonser (which means prime minister), said Monday at the “76th Naga Independence Day” at Camp Hebron. 

“The ball is now in the court of the Government of India to make the right move and to fulfil the commitment given to the Nagas,” Muivah said, adding that a ceasefire without political negotiations held no meaning.

Back in April, A.K. Mishra, the central government’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, had conveyed during a visit to Nagaland that there would be no change in the government’s stand on the group’s demand, which would only allow for a “separate flag for cultural activities”. 

On 14 August 1947, members of the Naga National Council the parent body of the NSCN I-M declared independence from the British in order to be seen as a separate nation from India. The organisation marks the day as Naga Independence Day ever since.


Also Read: It’s time Muivah and NSCN (I-M) realise that demand for sovereign Nagaland won’t work


‘Ceasefire meaningless without political negotiation’

Muivah in Sunday’s speech further said that “the Government of India is keeping pretentious silence over the Framework Agreement” signed in August 2015. 

The Framework Agreement between the Centre and the NSCN-IM was signed in 2015 to end the decades-old insurgency in Nagaland, centered on the demand for a greater Nagaland or ‘Nagalim’ — a sovereign ethnic homeland, comprising the state and Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Myanmar.

The agreement said: “Both sides…are cognizant of the universal principle that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people. Accordingly, the government of India and NSCN, respecting people’s wishes for sharing sovereign power as defined in the competencies, reached an agreement on the 3rd August 2015 as an honourable solution”.

It will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities,” the agreement further said.

Its interpretation, however, has become a hurdle in the peace talks — especially with NSCN-IM interpreting phrases like “shared sovereignty” to mean that the Nagas are different and their “sovereignty” has to be retained. 

“Ceasefire has been with the Nagas for 25 years now. But we see no meaning in the ceasefire that does not embark upon political negotiation. And we see no meaning in negotiation if it cannot deliver a solution,” Muivah further added.

Kitovi Zhimomi, the convenor of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) — an umbrella body of seven Naga insurgent groups — was critical of NSCN-IM’s demand for a separate flag and constitution.

“Apparently, since the Government of India started negotiations with NNPG, the sudden demand, and claim for Flag and Constitution became necessary (allegedly for NSCN-IM) in order to prolong and sabotage possible Indo-Naga solution,” Kitovi was reported to have said.

The central government started negotiations with the NNPG in 2017.

Meanwhile, during celebrations for the 75th anniversary of India’s independence at the Secretariat Complex in Kohima Monday, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said: “Our people have been waiting patiently and expectantly for a final solution to the Naga political issue. Naga people want an early, inclusive, honourable, and acceptable solution”.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


Also Read: Words, phrases don’t mean the same – Why peace talks with the Nagas have been stuck


 

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