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Fri, 24 Jan 2020

Northeast Today

Naga peace talks: High time for some results

Naga peace talks: High time for some results
December 07
13:32 2019

The Naga framework agreement, which was signed on August 3, 2015, came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland. As the winter session of the parliament is approaching, people of Nagaland are hoping for a dignified solution to this long-standing issue in this winter.  Amarjyoti Borah writes.

The winter session of the parliament has been announced from November 18, and that period is slated to be dominated by the issues related to the Naga peace talks and peace process, which has not seen any headway despite repeated promises by governments.

All the stakeholders in the peace process— the leadership of the NSCN, the state government of Nagaland, the central government, the civil society groups and even the common people of the state of Nagaland are awaiting a permanent solution to this whole process.

Now all eyes are on the parliament, as the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that the peace talks can’t go on for long, and asked the stakeholders in October, to complete it within three months and arrive at a conclusion.

This directive by the Prime Minister just after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A in August was an eye opener, as everyone understood that the government meant business, and wants to resolve the issue at the earliest.

“The call to finish the peace process within three months, and that too just after the historic abrogation was a clarion call by the prime minister, and everyone was shocked—as it was an indication that the present government wants to finish the peace talks process,” said a senior official who is part of the peace talks process between the government and the NSCN.

However the peace talks have hit a major roadblock with the Centre ruling out one of the major demands by the NSCN- a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas as demanded by the NSCN-IM, and the central government has also made it clear that the endless negotiations with the insurgent group under the shadow of guns is not acceptable.

The framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and the government’s interlocutor RN Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) has however reasserted its demand for a separate Naga national flag and Constitution and said that without this important demand being met, the peace process will remain inconclusive.

However, the central government is least likely to give in to this demand by the NSCN group.

“During the debates on the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A, the government had cleared its stand that it believes in One Nation-One law, so the question of a separate flag and constitution is totally out of the question here. The government is aware of the risk if it gives in to such demands—as many more groups will come up with similar demands,” said the official.

Political leaders of the opposition parties are looking at the upcoming parliament session as an opportunity to take the government heads on, on the issue of the Naga peace talks.

According to sources of the Congress party, both in the North East and the central leadership of the Congress at Delhi, the opposition party is planning to attack the BJP led government in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with facts and figures.

“The government didn’t take all the stakeholders into confidence in the peace talks and in the framework. It is a very complex issue and everything must be minutely handled and looked into,” said a senior spokesperson of the Congress party in the North East.

The Congress party, knowing well that it doesn’t have the required number of parliamentarians in both houses of the parliament, is seeking support of the other like minded opposition political parties to be able to forcefully raise the issue in the parliament.

“This is an important issue and mishandling of it could impact Nagaland further. Everyone, including all the political parties, wants a permanent and peaceful settlement to the whole issue, but it is also important for the government not to mislead people,” said the spokesperson.

“It is a very important and sensitive issue, and very crucial not only for Nagaland but for peace in the entire North East region, and for this we will demand a reply from the central government on this,” said the spokesperson.

At a recent meeting of the Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern states, the North Eastern Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the Framework Agreement, was at a “very advanced” stage, and expressed hope that the solution will come soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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