TODAY -

Naga Peace Pact, Rough sail to the D-day

SK Singh *



The past fortnight had unveiled more roadblocks than a smooth passage to the vexed Naga peace pact. Hectic parleys were the order of the days for the NSCN (IM) and the Interlocutor for Naga Peace Talks, when rumblings erupt principally on two issues; there appeared some semblance of settlement long overdue when the IM talked about separate flag and separate constitution of the Nagas not only near triumphantly but also rather authoritatively.

The hectic parleys however gave way to an indispensable need for RN Ravi for fresh touches on the core issues. Ravi had to dash to Kohima to have a review of these emerging developments with all possible stake holders. He was in a hurry keeping in view the limitation of time on the face of the dictate of PM to ink the PACT by end of October at the latest.

The Naga Peace Process initiated 22 years back and had been protracting all through this tedious, long span of time when some element of relief was restored when the FA was signed on 3rd August, 2015 between the GOI and the IM.

In the midst of this there was also another FA –like Agreement between the Interlocutor and 7 Naga armed groups under the banner of the Working Committee (WC) of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) on 17th November, 2017. The matters of agreement were on, according to the GOI, the ‘Political Parameters of the Settlement’. The IM was blowing hot for this second meeting Ravi had to arrive at an understanding with the WC of the NNPGs, even when the IM had represented the Naga Peace Talk.

IM was furious on the ground that when the GOI had to deal with IM only (according to NSCN-IM), the Interlocutor had pulled in the other group, had an audience with NNPGs. IM thus vehemently charged the Centre of plowing a ‘divide and rule’ policy by deliberately trying to divide the Nagas.

On the ensuing scenario, the office of the Interlocutor thought it wise to issue a Press Release, “ Unfortunately at this auspicious juncture, the NSCN(IM) has adopted a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement raising the contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and constitution on which they are fully aware of the GOI’s position. They have mischievously dragged in the FA and began imputing imaginary contents to it”.

The Press release continued, “Some NSCN (IM) leaders through various media platforms are misleading the people with absurd assumptions and presumptions over what they have already agreed with the GOI. In view of such unfortunate attitude of some NSCN (IM) leader, the GOI representative and Interlocutor for Naga Peace talks Sri RN Ravi had a detailed consultation meeting with the primary stakeholders of the Naga society on the 18th Oct at the CH of Hotel Jaiphu, Kohima, Nagaland.

The Press release concluded with the message, “….. Endless negotiation under the shadow of guns is not acceptable. The GOI expect all negotiating parties to heed the will of the people and facilitate conclusion of the Naga Peace process within the stipulated time.”

What actually caused the rift between IM and Ravi could be the emerging ‘differing positions’, of the rebel groups on the twin issues of separate flag and constitution for Nagas. While IM mustered courage to ask for flag and constitution, the WC of the other rebel group took it easy on the understanding that these could be gone into subsequently.

This irked the IM group and hinted at prolonging the struggle by denying the final pact. The rebel group, the NNPGs, however, became apprehensive given the background that only recently Modi had proclaimed, ‘one nation, one constitution’ and true to his declaration, abrogated Art 370 of the constitution whose provisions gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir with a separate flag and a separate constitution along with Art 35A, which empowered the Jammu and Kashmir government to identify and provide special rights to ‘permanent residents’. The NNPGs quickly agreed to ‘shared sovereignty’ as against the IM’s ‘flag and constitution’.

The WC of NNPGs, a conglomeration of 7 Naga rebel groups had signed an agreement with Ravi in 2017 and had not posed a tough posture unlike the IM faction. This rebel group after meeting with 14 Naga tribes on 15 September, in a statement opined, “What is possible at this hour, which is acceptable and honorable, Nagas must take. Symbolic issues that remain unresolved be pursued through continuous and consistent democratic and political process. The aspiration of the Nagas must be fully met in due course of time…”.

This apparently soft stand (with respect to GOI), of the Nagas as represented by the NNPGs talked tough with respect to brethren Nags from other states. They thundered, “Decades of serving and sharing meals in the morning and at night with Naga brethren from other Naga areas in the name of the Naga cause was a thankless job”.

They called upon Nagas not to be carried away by propagandas being churned out to confuse ‘our people’, and to ensure demographic invasion of Nagaland. They went to the extent of clarifying that the NNPGs were not an agent of the GOI as charged by the NSCN (IM).

Given this stand of the rebel faction NNPGs vis-à-vis the tough stand of the NSCN (IM), the GOI is now nearly in a hurry to seal the deal before it is too late. The Interlocutor’s press statement talked tough by adopting such clauses, ‘endless negotiation’, ‘shadow of the gun’ all directly aiming at the defying posture of the IM faction, is rather like a bolt from the blue.

In the past over four years after the signing of the FA, the GOI was nowhere near such a confronting posture, rather it was an embodiment of appreciation and understanding, soft, subdued and affectionate.

The 31 st October drawing nearer and nearer by the hours, Ravi had posed determined and come what may, the final deal is a matter of hours.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 23, 2019.



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