Naga peace

Kohima, June 11: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has convened an all-party MLAs meeting on June 19 to discuss the ongoing Naga peace process. Talks between the Centre and National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) have had to be suspended this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In February this year, the state assembly adopted a resolution to urge the government of India and Naga groups for early conclusion of political talks and bring about “one solution”.

Subsequently, an all-party delegation led by chief minister Rio and Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang met Union home minister Amit Shah and leaders of NSCN-IM in March. The all-party assembly delegation represented the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Independent MLAs and Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF).

On Thursday, news about the Nagaland government constituting a core committee consisting of both ruling and opposition MLAs to facilitate Naga peace talks circulated on social media platforms. Opposition leader TR Zeliang confirmed that Rio has convened a meeting on June 19, but he said the formation of such a committee was not notified.

A government official, on the condition of anonymity, said a notification on the constitution of the core committee would be brought out soon.

A round of dialogue scheduled to be held in April-May in New Delhi was postponed indefinitely owing to the second wave of Covid-19. Sources in the group said NSCN (IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and some other leaders of the organisation are in their designated camp Hebron in Dimapur and are unlikely to return to Delhi any time soon to resume the talks unless the Covid situation improves.

The NSCN (IM) entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997 and the two have been holding talks since then, while a conglomerate of seven different Naga national political groups (NNPGs) also got into separate talks with the Centre since 2017.

The Centre signed a “framework agreement” with NSCN (IM) in 2015, and an “agreed position” with the NNPGs in 2017. However, the NSCN (IM)’s demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution has been a delaying factor in signing a final deal on the protracted Naga political issue.

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The NSCN (IM), in the May issue of its bi-monthly newsletter “Nagalim Voice”, reiterated that the Naga people held two things dearly- their political identity as symbolised by the Naga national flag and the “Yehzabo” (constitution).

“These two issues are not negotiable. It cannot be bartered away in exchange for any temporary gains. History will not forgive NSCN if we sell out Nagas’ historical and political rights for the sake of concluding the Indo-Naga political dialogue,” the NSCN (IM) stated.