TODAY -

Separate constitution and flag still dogs settlement

SK Singh *

  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



In an article around two and half years back, on Jan 22, 2020, this writer philosophized, "Settlement of the Naga Peace Process, Far From Being Over". The Peace Accord signed between the GOI and NSCN(IM) with great fanfare on Aug 3, 2015 in the very presence of the PM, the HM and the NSA amidst others on the side of the Centre with other senior leaders of the outfit, showed signs of fissures over the years that follow.

The Accord widely acclaimed as the turning point to a final settlement of the longest insurgency movement in the country, didn't turn out to be so, rather it exhibited more of symptoms of 'disagreement rather than agreement' in the years that follow. The gap emerges larger and wider over the last over seven years.

The Commentary referred to above concluded with an air of dismay in the smooth execution of what had been agreed to in the FA. It said, "the road ahead is strewn with hurdles spiced with still-hidden agenda keeping in view the sporadic outcries of the IM, despite strong, rather stern pointers from the GOI like, '....endless negotiations under the shadow of guns is not acceptable....', blasted out in Oct 2021 when the Centre worked hard to ink the final deal by Oct 31, 2019.

All said and done, the Naga Peace Pact is sure to pass through rough sail before clinching the D-day.

This day nearly 7 years after the Peace Accord was signed; the fissures have shown signs of widening, with both sides generating more intrinsic issues than ever before. Only this Sept 8, a senior official of the GOI is learnt to have declared with authoritative finesse that there cannot be two different Constitutions in the country.

Relenting to a considerable extent, the Centre, however is understood to have indicated their willingness to consider making the Naga Constitution, being part of the Indian Constitution. In addition, the Centre has also agreed to accept a separate 'Civil and Cultural Flag' of the Nagas.

This assertion of the GOI can be seen as a significant fall back considering the out-right 'no' to a separate flag of the Nagas all through the peace process. The two nomenclatures 'Naga's Flag' and 'Naga's Civil and Cultural Flag', could have deep rooted variance. The Naga Flag could not be used in any government function; but would best be reserved for only cultural and religious functions.

At the expense of repetition, the assertion of the Centre is to the effect that there cannot be 'two Constitutions and two Flags' in a single country. The NSCN (IM) however had been dead bent on having their separate 'Flag' and separate 'Constitution', come what may.

The stalemate, since the very beginning could not have escaped the specific and unambiguous mention in the FA which was adopted by both parties, signed in the very presence of the top leaders of both parties in 2015. What could these underlying parameters be that passed by so ambiguous?

Information suspected to have leaked out from the HQs of the NSCN (IM), Hebron Camp, in Dimapur, Nagaland hinted at near parallel assertions about the inseparable desire of the IM group for much more than just only Flag and Constitution. They still linger for some systems for Pan Naga Government to encompass all Naga inhabited Areas in the neighboring states.

They even toyed with a system where there could be a 'Joint Foreign Affairs', 'Permanent UN Representative', among others. These could be interpolation by rival groups to derail the FA, knowing fully well that the IM have come down from their earlier stands of not holding Indian passport, meeting outside India to mention a few.

These developments take centre stage in the peace process now under intense consideration of the GOI. The new Interlocutor, Shri AK Mishra, former Special Director of the IB after being assigned with the task of concluding the peace dialogue, is understood to have closeted with the CM od Nagaland Shri Neiphiu Rio and Dy CM Shri Y Petton in Delhi.

As a part of the initiative to seal the peace process, AK Mishra is understood to have initiated placing a Bill in the Parliament to the effect of making the Naga Constitution, (Yejabo) a part of the Indian Constitution.

The Dy CM has recently spoken out in favor of an early settlement before the ensuing Nagaland General Elections slated sometime in early 2023. He is quoted as agreeing with the GOI's stand of not forming a greater Nagalim by amalgamating all Naga-inhabited areas in neighboring states of Assam, AP and Manipur.

The Dy. CM was candid in his calling upon the NSCN (IM) to fight the Assembly Elections if they so desire. This assertion is indeed bold and will stand champion of the cause of closing the peace process by going on the lines of the GOI.

The recognition of a faction of the Nagas, the Naga National Political Group (NNPG) by the GOI is something the IM hates bitterly. In an earlier piece, on Oct 30, 2019, this writer discussed about the emerging scenario where two major entities were recognized by the Centre.

In the article, 'The Bone of Contention-Two Entities', it was observed, "The Naga groups have become restive and had started questioning the rational of the IM in their stand which is turning out to be only untenable considering the recent nullifying of Art 370 and Art 35 A in the state of J and K on the premise that 'one country and one flag' . The NNPG s is the forerunner for the treaty though in the run up, the IM cannot be sidelined."

The recent Cease Fire Agreement signed between the GOI and NSIM (NS Group), does not too go down well with the IM.

The latest news update where the PM reportedly asked the HM to maneuver to convince the IM faction to ink the ever lurking 'final deal' before the Nagaland elections sometime next March, is timely. Pray, the IM comes around the way the other faction in particular the Core Committee puts forward, the execution of which though, is sure to face rough weather.


* 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 September 14 2022 .



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