TODAY -

Settlement of the Naga Peace Process, Far from being close

SK Singh *



The Center's Interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, RN Ravi, had recently claimed that the successful conclusion of the NPP could be very close.

In his maiden address in the Nagaland State Assembly Session, RN Ravi who is also the Governor of the state asserted, " The negotiations which were going on for the last many years between the GOI and the Naga political groups have been successfully concluded. My government conveys its deepest appreciation to all the stake holders for exhibiting utmost sincerity, farsightedness and a spirit of understanding in helping create conducive atmosphere for conclusion of the talks in a positive manner."

Understandably the most treacherous insurgency movement in the NER, the 80 year old insurgency movement breathed a respite on July 25, 1997 when the Cease-Fire Agreement between the GOI and the warring NSCN (IM) was inked. The peace talks thereafter were entangled into various contentious issues which need not be gone into considering the scope of the instant topic.

Mention may however be made about the now infamous, 'Peace Accord', singed between the GOI represented by RN Ravi and the IM faction of the NSCN, represented by Th Muivah, on August 3, 2015 in the presence of the PM, HM, among others.

RN Ravi necessarily has to talk Modi and breathe Modi in his several avatars of diplomacy in the circuitous talk process ever since the 'Peace Accord' or more popularly the 'Frame Work Agreement', was signed five years back.

The 'appeasement' policy abundantly deployed by the GOI in taming the IM, which had come down considerably from their earlier posters of refusing Indian Passport or hold peace talks in India, asking for separate constitution and separate flag, the distance so far covered is undoubtedly superb. Despite this recorded coming down and inking the FA, the contentious issue raised by IM remains daunting and the claim of the Nagaland Governor for settlement not too far away, appears hard to swallow.

The IM's insistence on separate flag and separate constitution has been a bone of contention necessitating the office of the Interlocutor to issue a sternly worded press release only in October, 2019. This development, certainly a new twist in the so far long march of cordial understanding between the two negotiators was discussed in a piece authored by the present writer, on October 22, 2019, captioned 'Naga Peace Pact, Rough Sail To The D-Day'.

It read, "……endless negotiation under the shadow of guns is not acceptable. The GOI expect all negotiating parties to head the will of the people and facilitate conclusion of the Naga Peace process within the stipulated time."

The editorial of the PC of Jan 21 (today) talks about famously chronicled 'Unprecedented Pact'. They were sensing a possibility of bonhomie between the Working Committee of Naga National Political Groups (WC-NNPG) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO).

In the October 22 piece referred to above, a reference was made to an Agreement between RN Ravi and a less-known armed group of the Nagas, a conglomeration of 7 armed Naga groups, Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), on Nov 17, 2017 even keeping aside the NSCN (IM) by the sideline.

The IM groups have been charging the GOI for this, according to them, clandestine, agreement between the Centre and a faction of the Nagas. For Muivah and Company, any other organization other than IM is taboo and therefore the agreement with the NNPGs with the GOI is a sore to them.

And this is at a time when the ever-eluding Peace Settlement between the GOI and NSCN (IM) is on the cards, if RN Ravi's Assembly Address in Nagaland is any indication. This apparent rapport between a major group of the Naga Peace process and a dominant umbrella organization of the Kuki community sounds ludicrous though, if the PC has undertaken enough home work, so far so good.

One cannot of course easily forget how the 1990's Kuki massacre by allegedly Naga groups, in again allegedly, widening the Naga hold of the empire in the hill districts, could be allowed to pass by. Till the other day glimpses of the bitter rivalry between the two major tribal communities were playing their assigned game of attacking each other.

The state of Manipur would breathe a sigh of relief if there is finality in the Naga Peace talk, though, of course there could be other areas where there is possibility of discord rather intense, to be precise, where touching sensitive areas of ancestral bond between the Nagas and the Meiteis is stretched beyond limit. This could be in the realm of geography or administrative ties or still community to community relationship.

This conjecture is all the more significant considering the fact that the valley area has been at the receiving end of the hills in as much as certain celebrities on the side of the Tribals have been charging the state government for step motherly treatment of the hill dwellers.

These charges often misconstrued in the absence of proper clarification by the government or complexity of the mechanics of development administration, like would development funds need be apportioned on the basis of population or of geographical parameters or of both often stands in the way of an amicable relationship even touching the periphery of hardened strain between two major communities.

The good news is that there may be a long term peace pact between the centre and the warring Nagas with commensurate accommodation for the next largest tribal community if the PC can be taken into confidence.

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 negotiation under the shadow of guns is not acceptable ....', blasted out in late October last year when the Centre worked hard to ink the final deal by 31 October, 2019.

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


* 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 January 22, 2020.



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