New Delhi 19july
, The government has dropped the 23-year-old suffix “I-M” from the name of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), signalling that the negotiations over the country’s oldest insurgency problem has entered its final phase.
The “differences have narrowed”, a joint statement signed by government of India representative and interlocutor, R.S. Pandey and NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, said, adding, “Some of the proposals would require further negotiations”.
While the demand for “secession” has already been dropped, the bone of contention has always been the demand for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under a single administrative umbrella.
Manipur, which has a sizeable Naga population, has been steadfastly opposing hiving off of its areas for the sake of Naga integration in the past 10 years.
“No one has said that Manipur will be bifurcated,” said a senior official privy to the talks, indicating that an out-of-the-box arrangement for the (Naga-inhabited) hill districts of the state was in the pipeline.
Officials said almost everyone was hoping for a win-win solution that would make not only the Naga outfit but also rest of the country happy.
During the talks, government representative and interlocutor R.S. Pandey led the four-member central team, while the NSCN’s chief negotiator, its general secretary Muivah, led his team, which comprised around a dozen senior members. The joint statement was issued at the end of the hourlong talks.
Not only did the government desist from mentioning “I-M” in the statement — hence bestowing the credibility the outfit has been asking for long — the statement also just stopped short of setting a deadline.
“By appreciating and respecting each other’s position and difficulties, both parties are confident of working out a settlement in the shortest possible time,” the statement said.
Special emissary of the NSCN, V.S. Atem told The Telegraph, “The talks were positive and we now enter the most crucial phase of the negotiation.” He, however, said a deadline could not be set. The current understanding comes at a time when Naga insurgency is passing through a chaotic phase and with divisions and infighting ravaging NSCN (K) in recent times, the Centre, in all likelihood, decided to get closer to the NSCN (I-M).
Negotiations with NSCN (I-M) began in 1998 and have since gone through many ups and downs. Over the past year, five rounds of formal negotiations have taken place between the two sides, but officials believe it was the “informal rounds” that helped the most.
The statement also mentions that the solution will be based on “the uniqueness of Naga history and situation which was recognised by the government in 2002”, and adds that it would be based on “the contemporary realities” and a future vision, consistent with the imperatives of the 21st century. Telegraph India
Joint Press Statement Copy Courtesy: Unrepresented Nations Peoples Organization