TODAY -

Shared sovereignty, integration & Article 371(A)
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 23 2018 -



The Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and NSCN-IM is about the special status given to Nagas under Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution, according to RN Ravi, the Government of India’s interlocutor for the political dialogue with NSCN-IM.

It has been already reported that what RN Ravi stated was part of the 213th report on the security situation in the North Eastern States tabled by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.

The report further said that a similar kind of status with some local variation and some change to the Nagas in the neighbouring States can be explored.

The idea of extending Article 371(A) to the Nagas of neighbouring States of Nagaland may not be an articulation of RN Ravi himself but nothing is final yet as was assured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a delegation of civil society leaders from Manipur sometime back that only his words would be final.

If one assumes that bringing the Nagas of neighbouring States under Article 371(A) is one concrete idea envisioned and agreed by the negotiating parties, it can be safely concluded that the course of the political dialogue had strayed from its hackneyed goal which was Naga sovereignty.

No doubt, NSCN-IM reacted strongly to RN Ravi’s statement and clarified that they have never softened its stand on Naga history, identity, rights including integration of all Naga areas, let alone accepting the Indian Constitution.

A closer look at the outfit’s own clarification reveals that Naga sovereignty has been replaced by ‘shared sovereignty’ which is still a big political puzzle.

Yes, the agenda of integration of Naga inhabited areas is still there but RN Ravi has ruled out any alteration to the boundaries of the neighbouring States.

If one goes by RN Ravi’s statement, the most possible outcome of the decades long political dialogue is Article 371(A) but this constitutional provision is nothing new to the people of Nagaland and its speciality has lost its sheen over the years.

No doubt, it is something very new and alluring to the Nagas of Manipur and other neighbouring States of Nagaland.

Here, it is pertinent to ask what the Nagas of Nagaland will get.

They are already enjoying the coveted trophy called Article 371(A) since many decades back.

Amid the resounding voice of opposition raised by a large section of people against extending Article 371 (A) to Manipur, one would like to question if the entire course of the political dialogue was focused on the Nagas of neighbouring States in general and Manipur in particular but not Nagaland.

The question assumes greater significance if one takes into account the fact that Th Muivah, the chief negotiator of NSCN-IM hails from Manipur.

Many stake holders may dismiss this question as a passing thought but the Government of India must think umpteen times before committing the blunder of extending Article 371(A) to Manipur.

A very stiff opposition is lurking on the horizon which would land Manipur in an anarchic political turmoil for decades to come.

If Article 371(A) can solve Naga insurgency, the Shillong Accord signed in 1975 would have been hailed as harbinger of peace.

Temporary appeasement is no solution, and for that matter, solution in one State and contortion of another will be even more disastrous.



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