TODAY -

Hard facts about the betrail

SK Singh *



The Oxford dictionary defines Framework as, "substructure, shell, skeleton, fabric, ". Perhaps, 'fabric' amidst the several could substantiate the purpose of deciphering Framework Agreement (FA).

The FA signed between the GOI and the NSCN (IM) on Aug 3, 2015, though shelved incognito, can be presumed to be the broad 'Governing Factors', within which the finer details of this historic Agreement would have to be based. Though these finer specifications are anybody's ( of course, of those select few who work closely on the issue, like Ravi or Doval) conjecture, a few vital elements, rather hard facts have come out to the fore only recently.

The outbursts of the all powerful General Secretary of NSCN (IM), Thuingaleng Muivah only a few days back, talk volumes about two core issues the Nagas had been insistent upon. He thundered, "The GOI betrayed us by talking to other groups". He was referring to the talks RN Ravi had reportedly undertaken, albeit clandestinely, with two Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) N. Kitovi Zhimoni and Alezo, who according to Muivah, seek a solution only for the Nagaland state in contrast to IM's demand for an integrated Nagalim.

The grouse of Muivah is perhaps because of the reported GOI's stand of taking the NNPG on board, which perhaps undermines his authority in seeking the final deal. Muivah stakes claim that NSCN (IM) was and still is the sole stake holder in the protracted peace process.

Muivah even goes to the extent of recalling his meeting with the then PM Narasimha Rao in Paris in 1995. He asserts, "When we said there are some other groups and he should talk to them as well, he said you represent the people, the issue is with you and you have proved yourselves. I will talk with you only for an honorable solution. The issue is not with other groups and so I will not talk to them, Rao said with an element of anger."

Given this background, perhaps the IM General Secretary has a point to make. He goes to the extent of claiming that Ravi had signed some sort of an 'agreement' with the NNPGs, and Muivah emphasizes that this clandestine approach is not acceptable. In matters of diplomacy, however, the envoys, the diplomats or the actors are always considered as somebody who would talk something while meaning something else, though the level of variance could be very thin.

The saying goes, in diplomacy, if the Diplomat says 'Yes', he would mean only 'May be'; and if he says, 'May be', it merely means, 'No' in the web of diplomatic niceties. Such members of the tribe called 'Diplomat' do not have the word, 'No' in their dictionary. If he says 'No', he is not a diplomat. Ravi is no mean diplomat as much as Muivah. The difference is only a matter of convenience and opportunity.

Ravi cannot be charged for excess however; he must have his brief to get engaged with the NNPGs despite fully aware that such a demeanor would annoy IM. This annoyance would be taken care of in some other way by appeasement of Muivah and Co. These are hard nuances of 'peace talks', no mean journey when the peace process goes on so protracted.

We may recall how P Chidambaram the then Home Minister, in his zeal to win over Muivah in a crucial talk in New delhi was more than receptive when Muivah, by digressing from the crucial issues, floated the idea of visiting his home village in Ukhrul district of Manipur.

The Indian Home Minister in his enthusiasm to appease the IM General Secretary, instantly agreed with the proposed visit without even consulting the GOM on possible ramifications of the proposed visit. The Ibobi government however, sore with the harsh realities of the Bangkok Agreement extending the territorial jurisdiction of the 'cease fire' agreement between the NSCN(IM) and the GOI, beyond Nagaland, stood firmly against the proposed visit.

These are again constituents of diplomacy; both parties are performing their allotted responsibilities. In the final analysis, perhaps Ibobi had a point to deny and perhaps rightly; he could foresee the would-be fall-out of the proposed visit of Muivah and the consequent venom the visit could have spewed causing tremendous complications.

The insistence of the Naga Group on having a separate Flag and separate Constitution is near tantamount to the proclamation often repeatedly, that the Nagas will never be under India. Muivah only recently in an exclusive talk to TOI at Camp Hebron, the highly fortified HQs located atop a hillock in Nagaland's Peren district, declared, "We have never been under India and we will never be. If the final solution wants the Nagas to be inclusive in the Indian Union, sorry, we will never accept it, come what may".

The core issue that has come out to the fore and perhaps posing serious misinterpretations has been associated with the word, 'inclusive', contained in the FA. While Muivah tries hard to interpret it as 'inclusive of all Nagas' while the GOI goes, according to him, stands for 'Nagas to be in the Indian Union'.

An assertive Muivah was at his best outburst; he said, "We will not accept such interpretation whether today or tomorrow". Still more volatile bone of controversies is lying in wait; 'Flag' and 'Constitution'. He emphasized, "Flag and Constitution are our identity; without these two things there cannot be a solution". Trying to sound authoritative, he reasoned, "The history of Nagas is unique. This has also been recognized by the GOI, .solution must be based on this fact".

With passage of time and with anticipation that the final agreement could be penned within November, the two contentious issues, Flag and Constitution are likely to take a turn to a contentious element that could elude any easy breakthrough in the normal course.

Recently another entity Naga National Political group (NNPGs) has proclaimed to leave Nagas of Nagaland alone and let Nagas of Nagaland settle their problem. This group has categorically stated that since the GOI has made it clear that they cannot afford to recognize 'Naga sovereign independence', as of now, the NNPGs have agreed that this issue shall continue through democratic approach. In other words this group has agreed to go for what is good and possible at the moment.

In the backdrop of Muivah's categorical proclamation that without these two, flag and constitution, there cannot be a solution, the ultimate goal is likely to be elusive. Never before had these hard facts been accorded so much of attention while looking for a solution which is long overdue considering the reality that the FA had been inked a little over four years back and that too, at the highest level of authority.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on Ocotber 09, 2019 .


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