Friday, March 31, 2023
HomeIndiaNaga Accord misses deadline, but NSCN (I-M) is back on board

Naga Accord misses deadline, but NSCN (I-M) is back on board

Negotiations between Nagaland governor and govt interlocutor R.N. Ravi and stakeholders are set to go on for another couple of days at least.

Text Size:

New Delhi: The Naga Accord that aims to conclude the 23-year dialogue for peace in Nagaland, home to India’s oldest insurgency, missed its 31 October deadline Thursday, in the absence of a consensus between the Narendra Modi government and other stakeholders.

The government, however, successfully managed to bring on board the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), a Naga group and one of the key players in the negotiations, after several rounds of discussions.

The group had earlier refused to have any dialogue with the government after its demand for a separate constitution and flag for the Nagas was turned down.

According to a source in the Union home ministry, while the government has still not agreed to the demand of a separate flag for the Nagas, it has said the same can be used for “cultural identity within the Naga homeland”.

Since Wednesday, Nagaland governor R.N. Ravi, the government interlocutor, had been holding meetings with stakeholders concerned to negotiate and bring the NSCN (I-M) back on board, the source told ThePrint.

The source said the “negotiations” between Ravi and the NSCN (I-M) will go on, in the hope that a consensus will soon be arrived at.

“It is not that the NSCN (I-M) has withdrawn from dialogue. Negotiations are on. We hope to arrive at a conclusion soon. However, nothing has been decided upon till now,” the source said, adding that it may take a couple of days for the process to complete.

Meanwhile, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, in a series of tweets, congratulated the stakeholders for a “historic moment”.

Also read: There’ll be bloodshed if NSCN (I-M) is left out of Naga peace pact, says ‘top commander’

NNPG statement

Late Thursday evening, the working committee of the National Naga Political Groups (NNPGs) released a statement saying it appreciated the understanding arrived at between the government and the NSCN (I-M).

“The WC, NNPG believes that the NSCN(I-M) leadership has opted for peace and adopted a practical and realistic approach in arriving at a conclusion of negotiations by accepting the reality the time,” the statement read.

The NNPG, however, also said that since the Naga flag is a political symbol and cannot be confined to socio-cultural activities, the Nagas will pursue it politically and democratically.

“Together in one voice, Nagas would pursue it politically and democratically. The flag, since the dawn of Naga political consciousness, has ever been an expression of our political identity and aspirations,” the statement read.

MHA puts rumours to rest

Since the government was insistent on completing the dialogue process by Thursday, with or without the NSCN (I-M), there were rumours that the accord has been signed.

The home ministry however, put the rumours to rest and released a statement late Thursday, stating that the accord has not been signed and “no credence needs to be given to such rumours and incorrect information”.

“It has come to notice of the Government that lots of rumours and misinformation is being spread in media including social media that final Naga settlement has been arrived at and will be announced soon. This is creating anxiety and concern in some parts of the country,” the statement read.

The ministry further clarified that before any settlement is arrived at with Naga groups, all stakeholders, including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, will be duly consulted, and their concerns will be taken into consideration.

Security increased

Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in Nagaland to prevent deterioration of law and order situation in the wake of the peace accord, sources in the defence establishment said.

The peace accord follows the historic framework agreement signed by the Narendra Modi government and the NSCN (I-M) in 2015 to “restore peace and pave the way for prosperity in the northeast”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had Wednesday met an all-party delegation from Manipur, which included Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, and assured that the interest of the state would be taken into account before the peace accord is finalised.

The NSCN (I-M), which was earlier on board for the peace accord, pulled out at the last moment, placing a separate flag and constitution as a condition for peace — a demand the Modi government refused to give in to.

The government had earlier made its stand clear that there will be no disintegration of these states, and that it was determined to conclude the peace process without any delay by 31 October.

History of Naga insurgency

The Naga insurgency started in the early 20th century and was initially centred on the demand for a greater Nagaland or ‘Nagalim’ comprising the state and Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar.

The central government had, however, ruled out any disintegration of these states to merge the Naga-inhabited areas with the existing state of Nagaland.

The NSCN (I-M) had agreed to give up its demands for sovereignty and settle for a solution that doesn’t require the state boundaries to be redrawn. It, however, later stuck to the demand for a separate flag and constitution for Nagaland.

Also Read: Nagas are worried a peace accord without NSCN (I-M) won’t bring real peace

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular