Indo-Naga Peace Process : A Look at the New Developments

Dr. Rimmei Longmei *

 A rally for peace 'Expedite Framework Agreement' from Phalee to Somdal :: 14th August 2018
A rally for peace 'Expedite Framework Agreement' from Phalee to Somdal in August 2018 :: Pix - Oken Luwang

Although we believe that all is not lost and there's always a silver lining in every cloud right at the moment all is not well is what our understanding of the present situation from what we could hear and see is all about.

Looking at things that are looking very serious or gloomy showing that things are not going well and will probably not go well in the future, some people are quick to show signs of losing hope and faith while others remain steadfastly in their refusal to have hope against hope even this time and hence are still praying for the successful conclusion of formal peace talks between the NSCN and the Government of India.

The fact of the matter is that according to the Framework Agreement between the GOI and the NSCN signed on August 3, 2015, both the parties have reached an agreement and the dialogue between the two has successfully concluded paving the way for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities. The two sides agreed that within this framework agreement details and execution plan will be worked out and implemented shortly.

It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded in August 2015 and that both the two sides are confident to work out details and execution plan within the framework agreement and implemented them shortly.

The agreement that would end the violent confrontation once and for all and would usher in comprehensive progress in consonance with the genius of the Naga people was welcomed by all.

The NSCN–IM Statement applauded the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present when the agreement was signed and praised the Naga people and the people of India for exercising unprecedented patience in supporting the Indo-Naga Peace Process. The Statement stated that with all faith and confidence, both the two sides would work out an honourable peaceful political solution to the vexed Naga issue before long.

Recalling the initial euphoria following the signing of the Framework Agreement, the jubilant Nagas who burst into jubilation as they perceived it as a step towards restoration of peace in Nagaland expressed their desire for the expedition of the peace process. They offered special prayers for the dignified solution for all the Nagas.

The common desire of more than 1.2 million Nagas is "honourable" and "acceptable" solution for all the Nagas. On the occasion of 69th Naga Independence Day, Camp Hebron wore a festive look. The NSCN-IM had made arrangements for nearly four thousand people to come and witness the day. Many came to celebrate the Naga Independence Day and to listen to the NSCN-IM leaders.

It was taken to be one of the biggest gatherings in the entire of Nagaland in recent years where Nagas from the State, from neighbouring States like Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and even Myanmar turned up for the event. The presence of many non-Nagas and civil society organizations added more colours to the event.

As per the Ministry of Information and Publicity, at least 20 civil society groups sent their representatives. The function began with the hoisting of the NSCN's flag followed by speeches for the special occasion. With the same hope, spirit and demand the Nagas commemorated the 70th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd and 74th Naga Independence Day.

This year while the Global Naga Forum (GNF) was commemorating the 74th Naga Independence Day with a live event discussing "Historical Perspectives of the Naga Political Struggle and "Towards a Just Peace, Respecting Naga Rights and Dignity", in Camp Hebron, in his speech the NSCN-IM supremo and chief negotiator Th. Muivah (Ato Kilonser/Prime Minister) said that the Nagas would co-exist with India but not merge with it.

He said that the GOI, through the Framework Agreement that was signed in 2015 had recognized the Naga sovereignty as it speaks of inclusive peaceful co-existence of the two entities. He went on to explain what the words 'inclusive', 'co-existence', and 'shared sovereignty' mean and also declared that the Nagas will co-exist with India sharing sovereign powers as agreed in the Framework Agreement and defined in the competencies.

Then he spoke about/on the contentious issues of separate 'Naga National Flag" and "Naga Constitution". He said, "We are not asking for Naga national flag and constitution from the Government of India. Recognize them or not, we have our own flag and constitution. Flag and Constitution are ingredients of our recognized sovereign entity and they are symbols of Naga nationhood.

The Nagas must keep their flag and constitution as they have been a free and sovereign independent people from time immemorial". He also said that the case of Nagas is a case of aggression on Nagalim by India and Myanmar. And the Naga movement is the Naga national resistance movement against aggressors.

Those words perhaps give us a clear picture of the political stance or the position of the NSCN-IM over those contentious issues. On the other side, going back to his speech to the people of Nagaland on assumption of the Office of Governor, the new Governor who is also the chief interlocutor on Naga talks informed the people that early honourable resolution of the Naga political issue has been at the heart of our honourable Prime Minister and his earnest endeavour will be to help resolve it at the earliest ensuring utmost honour and dignity to the Naga people.

With unwavering faith the Nagas remain hopeful hoping to succeed before long until a new development or change in a situation appeared before them. A strange turn of events perhaps shocked many. It makes people curious and worried. After the Independence Day speech the new scene was gradually unfolding before the people and some people are keeping us up-to-date with the relevant information on the dramatic turn of events.

What is indeed important to note is the differences of opinion, stance or position and much disagreements between the two parties. The stance or position of the GOI is clearly presented or reflected when the chief Naga interlocutor talks about two realities which are very important. The first one he said if Nagas feel that they can drive India out of Nagaland then it's a mistake.

India is not going to be out of Nagaland. They can keep fighting all this time, they can continue but India is not going to be out of Nagaland. The other reality is the fact that since the Nagas are an integral part of India, India will do everything possible to see to redress of grievances and work for a dignified solution without crushing their honour and dignity to end the decades-old Naga issue.

He declared that the GOI believes in widening the scope of the talks conducted so far with only NSCN (I-M). It believes in making the peace talks "more inclusive" to bring lasting peace in the region. Inclusive talks for the GOI means that all stakeholders not only just limited to stakeholders among the Naga community which are very important but also the neighbours will have to be taken onboard.

Thus in this sense the job of the Centre is not to divide the people but to work for peaceful co-existence, happy co-existence of all. He said no solution will be or final agreement will be reached without consulting all the stakeholders, taking their views or votes, giving due weight to all their views. Nothing will be done in a hush-hush manner, making it a hush-hush affair.

It must be evident to all that the two sides have differences which are yet to be resolved. As given out by the chief Naga interlocutor, the framework agreement is a work-in-progress and it is not something that has been finalized as yet.

Both the two parties are still working on it with all earnestness and seriousness, taking views of all the stakeholders, giving due weight to all their views to come to a conclusion with a dignified solution good for all.

* Dr. Rimmei Longmei wrote this article for Imphal Times
The writer is HoD, Dept of Political Science, Tetso College, Dimapur
This article was webcasted on August 26, 2020

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