The peace talk between the Government of India (GOI) and the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – NSCN (IM) will complete 25 years on August 1, 2022 since the ceasefire between them became effective from August 1, 1997 while the Framework Agreement signed between the GOI and NSCN (IM) on August 3, 2015 will complete seven years on August 3, 2022.
Whenever a remarkable day of a calander year – be it Christmast or New Year Day or something important day – approaches, speculations on final settlement of the peace talk between GOI and NSCN (IM) are doing the rounds now and then.
This time too, as the Nagaland Legislative Assembly election is due in January-February 2023, the issue of bringging about a final solution to the peace talk between the GOI and NSCN (IM) appears in many circles.
The Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue comprising all 60 MLAs and two MPs of Nagaland in a statement on July 16, 2022 ‘has appealed to the negotiating parties to refer to the competencies as reflected in the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) to arrive at a mutually acceptable definition of competencies to resolve this contentious issue at the earliest, and bring about a final solution that is honourable, acceptable and inclusive’.
It may be mentioned that the Committee was formed in June 2021 by the opposition-less United Democratic Alliance (UDA) government of Nagaland to put pressure on the Government of India and the Naga negotiating groups to achieve the final solution to the decades-old problem.
According to the statement, four resolutions were adopted during the meeting of Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue held at the State Banquet Hall in Kohima, on July 16, 2022.
‘Since the talks have been concluded officially on 31st October 2019, the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Hon’ble Union Home Minister are urged upon to invite the NSCN (IM) leaders for an early conclusion,’ read one of the resolutions.
Notably, the Parliamentary Committee welcomed ‘the positive initiatives being taken by the Government of India and the Working Committee, Naga National Political groups (WC-NNPG) in regard to the on-going peace dialogue’. It also appreciated and welcomed the efforts made by the Naga Political Groups (NPGs) in taking the talks forward.
While welcoming the statements and observations made by various organisations and individuals, calling for unity and early solution, the Parliamentary Committee has appealed to “refrain from making statements that may create misunderstanding and disunity, and that may stand in the way of common and collective endeavour to achieve genuine and lasting peace”.
Moreover, the statement went on to clarify that the Parliamentary Committee is not a party to the Naga political negotiations but “playing the role of facilitator, representing and reflecting the voice of the people”, which it said will be continued in a “serious manner”.
“We stand by the commitments of the constituent political parties as reflected in their respective manifestoes to pave way in the event of political solution being arrived at,” it stated.
Reports quoted Nagaland Government spokesperson and Minister of Planning and Coordination, Land Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs, Neiba Kronu, who is also the member secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue as saying, “The delay in inking the final solution is because of the persistent demand of the NSCN (IM) for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas”.
Further it is said that the Centre is not willing to accept the demands probably because it had abrogated Article 370 which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. With the annulment of the special status in 2019, the separate flag and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir cease to exist.
Reacting to the statement of the Parliamentary Committee on the Naga Political Issue, the NSCN (IM) on July 19 in a statement said that “the non-action plan on competency had made the Framework Agreement a non-starter”. According to the NSCN (IM), this is the crux of the delay in the Naga political solution.
The NSCN (IM) also said that had the Indo-Naga political talks been concluded on October 31, 2019 as repeatedly mentioned by the Parliamentary Committee on the Naga Political Issue (PCoNPI), a joint statement should have been the norm and not a unilateral statement by RN Ravi.
“Even NSCN could have taken the pleasure to share with the Naga people with much jubilation. Ironically, this is not the case. Ravi may have concluded the talks with NNPGs. But that is not the story with NSCN,” a statement of the NSCN (IM) countered.
The statement then said, “No doubt Ravi used strong words against the NSCN talk team to conclude the talk by October 31, 2019. It was in fact an ugly ultimatum day served to the NSCN by the Government of India with threats and warfare psychosis. But NSCN was unnerved and stood their ground and flatly refused to toe the line of Naga solution as drawn by Ravi”.
According to the NSCN-IM, the truth is that Ravi miserably failed to work out the competency as per the principle of the Framework Agreement. The NSCN (IM) also said that the last paragraph of the Framework Agreement stated that “the two sides agreed that within this framework agreement details and execution plan will be worked out and implemented shortly”. The NSCN (IM) added, “But sadly, Ravi never picked up the follow up action on competency”.
Regarding the conclusion of the peace talk on October 31, 2019, the NSCN (IM) then stated that after October 31, 2019 it had a formal talk on November 9, 2019 and again on January 30, 2020.
According to the NSCN (IM), officially the Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015 had resolved the principle issues and therefore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had made known to the world that he had solved the longest insurgency movement in Southeast Asia.
“Accordingly, we find in the 3rd paragraph, ‘It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded and we are confident it will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities'”. The NSCN (IM) said that the sore point is the non-action on competency.
The NSCN (IM) then said that the “respected members” of the PCoNPI should exercise intuition to tell them that something is amiss about October 31, 2019 “as talks having been officially concluded”. It added, “We also need to follow political maturity and pragmatism and go by our established respect to find the Naga political solution, so near, yet gone missing”.
As far as the October 31, 2019 is concerned, the NSCN (IM) said that there is no documentary evidence appended by the Government of India representative and the Naga political groups that talks had been concluded as “we find in the Framework Agreement”.
The NSCN (IM) then said that it “finds no fault with Prime Minister Mr. N. Modi taking the extra pride for solving the Naga political issue”.
“But the non-action plan on competency had made the Framework Agreement a nonestarter. This is the crux of the delay in Naga political solution”, the NSCN (IM) added.
In the light of the recent developments on the Naga political problems involving peace talks between the GOI and the NSCN (IM) on one part, and the GOI and Working Committee – Naga National Political groups (WC-NNPG) consisting of seven Naga armed political groups on the other, differences on the perceptions and approaches for the final solution of the Naga political problem is apparent.
Due to the difference of understandings, perceptions and approaches between stakeholders of Naga political problem, the final solution of the peace talk between the GOI and NSCN (IM) is yet to see the light of the day even though the Nagaland Legislative Assembly election is so near.
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics