The frequently heard term FA stands for the abbreviation of Framework Agreement of 3rd August 2015 between the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and the NSCN (IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah. In reality, the so-called Agreement is more a principle of Gentleman Understanding (GU) between the two Persons, the Prime Minister of India represented by his appointee Interlocutor Mr. R.N Ravi and the General Secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, now known Nagalim, than a legal lists of Agreements between the two identities item by item.
To be a legally valid document, the FA should have the signature of the Presidents of both the Governments of India and that of the NSCN [GPRN], and should have been passed by the Parliaments of India and the Tatar Hoho of Nagalim.
In the case of the Nagalim, there arises legal Territorial Issue since it is only a notional territory consisting of supposed part of Naga Inhabited areas of the States of Arunachal, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. All these States very strongly protested against the disintegration of their State and therefore the Government of India has not agreed to the NSCN [IM] proposition for creation of the new State.
In the case of Nagaland; the NSCN [IM] is not the mandated authority to represent the Nagas of Nagaland. For Nagaland, the Naga National Council [NNC] established in 1946 during the British India Government, is the only politically mandated (by a decisive democratic plebiscite) Organization of the people of Nagaland and understandably do not agree for a Naga of outside the Nagaland State to represent them on the Issue.
These are very important legal Issues involved in the FA, the Issues are legal and cannot be avoided whether one likes it or not, beautiful or not.
And Article 371-A is just one of the many Clauses in the Constitution of India that empowers the State of Nagaland, the article cannot be avoided, and perhaps non-amendable. The Article was inserted into the Constitution of India by an Act of the Parliament in its Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1962: effective from 1-12-1963.
The so-called Framework Agreement of the 3rd August is in reality like the ‘Preface’ that usually comes before the ‘Contents’ of a Book. The Preface gives the principle Idea of the contents of a book. The FA is supposed to be the basic conceptual arrangements of the guiding principles to follow, similar to the ‘Preamble’ of the Constitution of India with statement of set principles of Subjects, Values, Vision and Ideas clearly set to follows including some 395 Articles of functions in list of Parts, Chapters and Clauses to act, but the FA didn’t.
The FA is more a gentlemen understanding of each other’s principles intensions but not a legal Agreement between two authorities.
The Article 371-A and the FA is not comparable: the former is a legal Article of statement of the Constitution; the latter is just a basic conceptual vision not yet come to fruition: the former is already an accomplished list of functions, the FA in itself has not yet attained the honour of a Political Agreement made and approved legislatively.
The NSCN(IM) and the GOI have had countless numbers of TALK in various places outside India, inside India, in Delhi, in Nagaland and in Dimapur for the last 24 years from 1997 to 2021. And the GOI has unequivocally declared it has ended the ‘Agreement Talk’ on 31 October 2021.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally appointed Mr. R N Ravi Interlocutor Governor of Nagaland, who face to face said:-
“All the writings of the discussions from the beginning to the last were written by me, I remember all and I have given it to the Prime Minister”.
Many Naga must have read what Mr. Z. Lohe on 16 November 2023 wrote in the local News Media of Nagaland and the NSCN [GPRN] MIP Press Statement on 21 November 2023 the reaction to Lohe’s expressions.
This Writer has read the statements of both of Z. Lohe and those of MIP the NSCN [GPRN] in the Papers, and whereas Lohe’s writings have not painted a glowing picture of the NSCN [IM], he [Lohe] has honestly cited quite some benefits to the erstwhile Naga Hills, -just a District of Assam prior to the attainment of a State, with special Economic, Political, Cultural Privileges and especial constitutional Rights to State of Nagaland in the article 371-A, not available to earlier established other normal States of India.
Most of the other Northeast States envies Nagaland for its Special Constitutional Status and this is the great reason the Naga of outside Nagaland vies to migrate and settle in Nagaland with attempts to claim indigenous citizenship of the State. The Cost of Land in Nagaland now has gone up sky high, and the Naga of outside secretly buy land in the State quite often in the name of the indigenous.
From the only surviving Delegate of the Naga People Convention that brought the State of Nagaland, this Writer gathered that the Naga Hills got the STATE not as easily like the story of ‘Jack and the Beans’ in Grimm’s Fairy Tales seem to be.
The Naga People Convention delegates demanded a State, while other NE States were thinking about Autonomous District Council during the early days of Indian Independence from the Sub-Council for the North East, headed by Prime Minister Gopinath Bordoloi of Province of Assam, of the National Constituent Assembly headed by Sardar Patel.
The Naga delegates demand was attained, only after very hard debates, arguments, hard decisions, failures, sometime feeling tired, frustrated and disgusted but not giving up. The State was fought out insistently very hard with some very difficult Members of the Indian Delegates. It was possible for the Naga to get their demand mostly due to Nehru’s personal great consideration for the Naga and also for the affect of the sudden appearance of Phizo’s name, President of the NNC, in all the major Papers of London and in most of the world’s capital Cities of that time, that clinch the issue!
Many may not have seen that the 9 Points of the ‘9-Point Agreement’ of the Naga National Council (NNC) and the Governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hydari in 1947, was the foundation stones of the NPC’s 16-Point Agreement that made Naga Hills District of Assam, the special provision State of Nagaland with Art. 371, to the unexpected wonder if not envy, of many.
Some twenty years after it became a State, Nagaland procured the Opinion of some four top Legal Minds in India for their opinion on Article 371-A, they are: i. H.M. SEERVAI, ii. F.S. NARIMAN, iii. R.C. SARKAR, iv. M.HIDAYATULLAH; and all of the legal experts supported the Right of the Naga People and the Government of Nagaland in Article 371-A; one of the legal Minds recorded that the said the expression ”the land and its Resources” with ‘its resources’ in the Clause of the Article is of extra ordinary especial expression not amendable and not met in any other cases except in the case of Nagaland.
It is surprising how this unparallel especial case for constitutional right of the Naga could be the stumbling political road block in Article 371-A in the Statement of the NSCN(GPRN). The Article 371-A does not end the Aspiration of the Naga: Nothing prevents the Naga anytime in future to fight for their aspiration with non-violent democratic means!
The State of Nagaland today is provided with almost SOVEREIGN power in matters of (i. Religious & Social Practices, ii. Customary law & Procedure, iii. Administration of Civil and Customary law, iv. Ownership of land and its resource); the Article 371-A.(1) [a(i, ii, iii, iv)], says: ”Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of 371-A.(1)[a(i, ii, iii, iv)], shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.” Article 371-A also includes many other subsection Provision under further subsection (2) and (3).
Mr. Lohe Statement charged the IM to “give legal justification that Art 371-A is a road block to Naga political solution?” The GOI has agreed to talk with the IM “without any pre-condition”, this is the main reason Muivah talked peace with the GOI for 23 years without any difficulties. Twenty four years have passed since the Talk began and the NSCN is unable today to generate any new Ideas for Talk and blames Shillong Accord, Art 371-A and Working Committee of the NNPGs as stooges of India and road blocks to Naga political solution. These allegations, attitudes and behaviours may not bring any support, rights for an honourable Solution to the Naga Political Talk.
As far as the knowledge of this Writer goes, no People fighting for the honour of their Nation ever condemns others of its own Race as Traitors. It is true the trouble in Nagaland squarely rest on the Naga, but it is unfortunate the GOI has a subtle affect on the political trouble in the State beyond the power of the small Naga population State of Nagaland!
The GOI giving apparent importance to the violent Naga Nationalist Group of the NSCN [GPRN] mostly for the propensity for violence and their position of Firepower of the barrel of the gun, not for their political sagacity of their Naga politics or for quite often their propensity to describe other Naga as politically visionless and Traitors for not toeing their unconscionable programmes.
It is surprising that India supports the unwavering decision of Israel to completely eliminate Hamas from Gaza sooner than later, despite the unprecedented very great collateral destructions in the land. If GOI could dig out the seed of the core political trouble in Nagaland today, would they have that matter that makes Israel go even against the wishes of the UN?
Thepfulhouvi Solo. ifs retd. [RR-68]