Another round of GoI-NSCN (IM) talks held; Dialogue likely to continue beyond Oct 31

Another round of GoI-NSCN (IM) talks held; Dialogue likely to continue beyond Oct 31
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New Delhi/Kohima, October 28: The Centre on Monday held another round of talks with the NSCN-IM aiming to hammer out differences, particularly on the outfit’s demand for a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas, and inch closer to a solution to the seven decades old problem, officials said.
A team of the NSCN-IM, led by its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, and Centre’s interlocutor and Nagaland Governor RN Ravi discussed here the possible ways to find an “honourable” solution by resolving the sticky issue of a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas.
Today’s crucial talks in New Delhi achieved some sort of a breakthrough and the two negotiating parties are likely to continue further talks beyond October 31, the deadline set by the Centre to ink the final agreement with the Naga groups engaged in talks, particularly the NSCN currently led by Q Tuccu and Thuingaleng Muivah.
Sources said the two parties have agreed to continue the talks to find out a meeting point and resolve the contentious issue of Naga flag and constitution – the demand the Union Government is not willing to accept.
The issue of a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas has become the main bone of contention between the two sides with the NSCN-IM strongly pressing for it.
“The dialogue, which lasted for more than four hours, remained inconclusive and both sides agreed to meet again soon. However, a final agreement between the NSCN-IM and the government is unlikely to take place by October 31,” an official privy to the development said.
Ravi, in a statement, said last week that a mutually agreed draft comprehensive settlement, including all the substantive issues and competencies, is ready for signing the final agreement.
“Unfortunately at this auspicious juncture, the NSCN-IM has adopted a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement raising the contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and Constitution on which they are fully aware of the government of India’s position,” he had said.
Ravi’s statement assumes significance in view of the Centre’s August 5 announcement abrogating the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. With the annulment of the special status, the separate flag and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir cease to exist.
The framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Muivah and Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The central government has already rejected the NSCN-IM’s demand for unification of Naga inhabited areas — located in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The three Northeastern states also vehemently opposed it.
Meanwhile, a grouping of seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) has appealed to the elected representatives in Nagaland to avoid a “neutral stand” and make clear their position.
Noting that the Centre was keen on finding a solution, the NNPG made the appeal in a statement released by its media cell on Sunday night. The NNPG has been holding separate talks with the Centre since 2017.
“Unresolved matters should be decided through political and democratic process…. The position and status of elected representatives of Nagaland cannot remain lukewarm. They cannot choose to hide behind the boulders blocking the way,” it said.
The Centre had set a deadline for conclusion of peace talks in the wake of the Naga society’s demand for an early solution to the six-decade-old issue, the statement said.
“It is time for political parties in Nagaland to clear their stand in the interest of the Naga people…. If the political parties of Nagaland fail in their constitutional duties and obligations, they should resign and allow the Election Commission of India to derecognise the parties,” it added.
Recently as a pressure tactic, Governor Ravi had activated all security agencies throughout the State as the deadline expires on October 31. But NSCN undeterred by the tactics had vowed to continue their struggle till the Government recognizes the legitimate rights of the Nagas.
Interlocutor Ravi is expected to hold dialogue with the NNPG in the coming days too.
(Page News Service with PTI inputs)