TODAY -

NSCN (IM) deal exposes sharp divisions within Nagas
Source: The Sangai Express / Jigme Palden Pazo,TNN

New Delhi, September 08 2015 : Just over one month back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted the end of the Naga problem after the Union Government and the NSCN(I-M) concluded their dialogue on the six-decade old issue of separatism.

But, a month later, the Naga people are none the wiser as hopes that soared at the time of the announcement were swiftly subsumed by contradictions, claims and counter-claims.

The peace deal has brought out in the open the sharp divisions among various Naga tribes, which were only mentioned in whispers till the other day.

The Nagas of Nagaland felt left out of the peace process as Thuingaleng Muivah took centrestage.

Muivah is a Tangkhul Naga from Ukhrul district of Manipur.

When NSCN(I-M) organised a consultative meeting with Naga civil society groups at Dimapur in Nagaland last month, the Sumi Hoho, which represent Sema Naga tribe, refused to be a part of it.

The other Naga rebel faction, NSCN(Khole-Kitovi), said it "will not embrace an undignified peace accord", adding, "The Nagas of Nagaland, be it land or people, cannot be sacrificed to fulfil the political aspirations and desire of Nagas living in the States of Manipur, Assam or Arunachal Pradesh" .

The very nature of the deal was open to debate.

What was first hailed amid much chest-thumping as a historic peace accord was eventually reduced to a mere agreement to be worked on.

Both Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang termed it as a "framework agreement" .

Rijiju raised much consternation when he clarified early on that the deal made no provision for the much-touted Naga sovereignty, which was the essence of Naga demands.

Bhagat Oinam, Professor, School of Social Sciences, JNU, told TOI, "After 18 years of dialogue, it's quite strange that they have only come to a framework" .

On August 14, the so-called 69th Naga Independence Day, Muivah declared Naga sovereignty had not been sacrificed.

Instead, he said there would be a concept of shared sovereignty.

What the term implies, remains open to interpretation and debate.

Naga Hoho has stood firm on the demand for physical integration of all Naga inhabited areas of the North East.

"We told RN Ravi (chief Naga interlocutor) that integration is non-negotiable.

We won't just accept social or cultural integration," said Naga Hoho chief P Chuba Ozukum.

If confusion tinged the aspirations of the Naga people, it triggered panic and deep apprehension among their neighbours.

CMs of Assam and Manipur minced no words in warning that they won't tolerate any agreement that would compromise on the territorial integrity of their States.

Criticizing both BJP and NSCN(I-M), Tarun Gogoi said, "Why's there so much secrecy? People want to know how the agreement will pave the way for peace" .

In Manipur, the fear of the Centre sacrificing its boundary to buy peace with NSCN(I-M) still exists.

"We really don't know what's going on as there is no transparency.

But, when Manipur kingdom merged with Indian Union in 1949, it had merged with the existing boundary.

The Centre should not make any attempt to change that boundary," said senior Congress member N Biren Singh.

Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) president Kamta Lapung said, "We're not against any strategy to maintain peace among the North Eastern States or insurgent groups; rather, we welcome the accord.

But we are totally against conceding our territory for greater Nagaland as the agreement was signed without the consent of Arunachal Pradesh" .


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