After a series of meetings between the Centre and Issak-Muivah-led National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM), the Core Committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Naga Political Issue (CCoNPI) and NSCN-IM wants the support of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to continue the negotiation process.
A four-hour meeting was held at the Police Complex in Chumukedima of Dimapur on Saturday between CCoNPI delegation team led by Nagaland Chief Minister Nephio Rio and NSCN-IM delegation led by senior leader VS Atem. In that meeting, the CCoNPI urged the NSCN-IM to continue the negotiations with the Centre.
After the meeting, Neiba Kronu, member secretary, CCoNPI, said both the sides held “fruitful” and “meaningful” discussions on several issues and that the meeting was, by far, among “the best ever held between the two sides”.
According to Kronu, the meeting helped bring both the sides closer in understanding their respective positions, adding it was “a good message to the Central government as well”.
The CCoNPI is also likely to apprise Assam CM and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convener Himanta Biswa Sarma on the outcome of Saturday’s meeting so as to take it forward to the Centre. “We discussed the need for support of Himanta Biswa Sarma. It is better that someone can speak for both the Centre and even the Naga people,” Kronu said, adding, “We are hopeful that through a very good understanding, we may bring a solution as early as possible.”
On the insistence of the NSCN-IM that the Framework Agreement was inclusive of Flag and Constitution, which has been the hurdle towards inking a broad-based agreement, Kronu replied that the CCoNPI would discuss it with the Government of India.
TR Zeliang, who is also the chairman of United Democratic Alliance (UDA), said after holding talks with the Government of India’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks, AK Mishra, in Dimapur, the NSCN-IM delegation went to Delhi. However, they said after returning from Delhi last week that “they will not have any further negotiations”.
Zeliang said, “We interacted with them (NSCN-IM) and requested that the talks should continue. We are going to request the Government of India to invite them for further negotiation.”
MAY 31 MEETING
NSCN-IM delegation and interlocutor Mishra had a two-day (May 12-13) meeting in Delhi after hectic parleys in Dimapur last month, but the negotiations concluded with no breakthrough in the long-standing impasse.
Meanwhile, the NSCN-IM has convened an emergency national assembly at GHq Church, Naga Army, on May 31.
The rebel group has asked its members from the rank of Tatar and above joint secretary, and delegates from various regions and organisations to attend the meeting. Its general secretary and chief negotiator Th Muivah will deliver a speech.
Muivah skipped Saturday’s meeting in Dimapur Police Complex. But all key leaders are expected to attend the May 31 meeting and the Centre also expects “more clarity” on contentious issues on separate Flag and Naga Constitution.
The Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), the umbrella body of seven Naga rebel groups led by N Kitovi Zhimomi, has been also strongly in favour of early signing of a peace pact to resolve the state’s decades-old insurgency and political problem. NNPGs had signed ‘Agreed Position’ with the Centre on November 17, 2017.
The Naga peace talks have been put on fast track during the last one month as the Nagaland Legislative Assembly elections are scheduled in February-March 2023.
NSCN-IM WARNS NAGA LEGISLATORS
The NSCN-IM on Friday advised the elected leaders of the state to resist the temptation of going overboard with the Naga political issue and creating confusion.
The rebel group said in a statement, “While we appreciate the enthusiasm shown by the state’s elected political leaders, it would be tantamount to overstepping their role as facilitators if they start jumping beyond their assigned role, making bewildering statement on the Naga solution.”
According to NSCN-IM, the Nagaland state BJP ministers and other party leaders are not able to fully understand the complexities and intricacies involved in the political struggle and is simply allowing themselves to be carried away by their “election syndrome”.
“Nagas have tasted the bitter fruits of the past accord/agreements and there is no way that we should make another blunder to allow ourselves to be flattered again,” the statement added.
The group also mentioned, “Irrespective of who we are as individuals or party, we have to admit that Naga political issue is getting more sensitive by the day and, for many, it is an extremely emotional experience to say the least. This demands careful handling without resorting to derogatory outbursts with rhetorical embellishments.”
The NSCN-IM said that it signed the Framework Agreement in 2015, guided by the intuition to safeguard the sovereign rights and dignity of the “nation”. They added, “This is the reason why we have stood our ground and never for other vested interests…”
The rebel group asserted that it would not cow down unless an “honourable and acceptable settlement to both the parties”.