Time to grab the Naga initiative

NTIMES 17OCT: Time to grab the Naga initiative

The decision of the NSCN (IM) to agree to recognise the Indian Constitution is a development that can easily be described as momentous. It is potentially the biggest breakthroughs in the effort to resolve the longest-running and one of the most violent secessionist movements in the country, one that predates India’s Independence as well. And the best thing about it is that it no longer puts a question mark on India’s sovereignty.

Unfortunately, however, the government does not seem to have acted with the alacrity and urgency that this development deserves. It is learnt to be more than a year that the willingness of the NSCN leadership to find a solution to their problems within the framework of Indian Constitution was conveyed to the government. The subject is so sensitive that no one wanted to reveal it, till it was brought to light by this newspaper on Monday.

Already, there are indications from the Naga group about some amount of dissatisfaction on the lack of an quick honourable response from the government. In the absence of measures that could match a perceived ‘climbdown’ from its side, the NSCN camp fears being discredited amongst its own community. To be sure, the organisation makes the distinction that it is not the Indian Constitution as it exists that is acceptable to it, but a suitably amended one that takes care of their concerns.Indications are that they are not demanding any changes in the unalterable basic structure of the Constitution, as defined by the Supreme Court. But they are learnt to be recalling the assurance given to the Naga people by the NDA government in 2002 recognising the unique history and situation of the community.

The NSCN move to no longer question the sovereignty of India is as good a proposition as can be for the Centre at this stage. And that is why it requires an urgent response with an offer that restores honour, addresses issues of identity and culture, and makes them feel recognised and protected. Prime Minister’s directive to other affected states like Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to get involved in finding a solution is a welcome step. A lot of political capital needs to be invested in that effort and neither the Centre nor the affected states must be found to be lacking in it.

Amitabh is a Senior Assistant Editor based in New Delhi, amitabh.sinha@expressindia.com

The path to ‘perilous’ peace

– Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: October 18, 2012

With each passing day, the issue over ‘imminent settlement’ of vexed Naga political problem after long 15 years of peace talks with Government of India is throwing up more surprises.

A day after a National daily carried the news report on its Monday edition wherein it was stated that the Government of India has secured a written commitment from the Isak-Muivah group of the NSCN to the effect that the latter has not only agreed to accept the Indian Constitution but also recognizes the impracticability of redrawing the boundaries of the existing States in North East, the Naga rebel group has refuted report strongly.

In a press communiqué issued by its ‘ministry of information and publicity, NSCN (IM) asserted that ‘if the Naga people under the leadership of Isak-Muivah would like to accept the Indian Constitution, they would have accepted the Shillong Accord when it was signed and there would not have been political negotiations for such 15 long years’.

Meanwhile, reports have come in about the proposed visit of NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chsi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah to Nagaland for ‘home consultations’ (whatever that may be).

On the other hand, Khaplang headed NSCN faction has made it clear that after nearly 30,000 lives of the Nagas had been lost in the last 70 long years’ fight for protection of Naga sovereignty; it would never accept any piecemeal solution under any circumstances.

From all these developments, it appears that the ‘imminent settlement’ of the vexed Naga political problem is not that imminent and the road to peace only leads towards an uphill from now on.

As the celebrated Naga intellectual, Niketu Iralu has pointed out ‘…the competently organized NSCN (IM) consultations in Niuland, Bangkok, Hebron Camp, etc were very helpful initial steps in the right direction. But after those Consultations, the IM group needed to go on to the next step, namely, get all the different groups or ‘factions’ as we have come to call them, to sit down and thrash out differences together as leaders who have all made their share of mistakes, the precise terms for negotiation for a political settlement that would be honourable and acceptable to all Nagas and to India also, and therefore, would be workable.”

Yes, an ‘honourable, acceptable and workable’ solution may be the desire of all, but in the light of fierce opposition from other factions, which seem to be more at ease in trying to throttle each other than to shake hands, how one group alone is going to bring about such a solution is difficult to imagine even in the wildest dream.

The path to peace that NSCN (IM) and Government of India have been building upon for the last 15 years definitely has many rough edges that need to be smoothened.