Naga solution within Indian federation: Ravi

Naga solution within Indian federation: Ravi

Kohima, July 23: If at all final Naga accord is signed, as speculated and reported in various media outlets, “interim Government” is expected to be installed in the State within the Constitution of India.
A source from the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) led by Khole Konyak and Thiungaleng Muivah said there will be an “interim government” which would not be less than three years and not more than five years.
Naga political parties have repeatedly said that they would pave way for an alternative arrangement if the final agreement is signed with the Naga groups currently engaged in dialogue by the Union Government.
Both the Centre and the NSCN (IM) have been saying that peace process was going in the right direction and hinted at a final agreement any moment once the proposals are finalised and agreed by both parties. But an NSCN (IM) insider said there would be no final agreement without integration of Naga contiguous areas. Nevertheless, various sources said there will be “Pan-Naga Hoho”, as a move for emotional integration.
This report could not be confirmed from the NSCN (IM), but talks are doing the round for quite some time that there was a proposal and agreed for increase of seats of MLAs and MPs in Nagaland and other Naga inhabited areas. It was also learned that earlier the State Government had also suggested for increase of seats in State Assembly, including Upper and Lower Houses.
One source said the Centre has agreed for the proposal. If reports are true, districts like Wokha, Peren, Phek, Dimapur and Kohima are expected to have more assembly constituency.
Recently the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs after studying the draft proposal has given a green signal to the government to go ahead for the final accord with the NSCN (IM), but did not divulge the contents of the proposal. The Committee is headed by former Congress Minister, P. Chidambaram.
The report tabled in Rajya Sabha on July 19 said Nagaland was the original hotspot of insurgency in the northeast. The report said British followed a policy of least interference in the Naga areas. In 1873, the British introduced the Inner Lien system that prevented people from the plains, except the Christian missionaries, from entering the Naga inhabited areas.
“The policy of Inner Line helped to prevent dilution and disruption of the Naga culture, but contributed to their isolation and prevented their integration with the mainstream society. Under the Government of India Act 1935, on the recommendations of the Simon Commission, the Naga hills were declared as “excluded area” but continued to be administered by the Government of Assam. This arrangement was somewhat in line with the demands of the Nagas, who did not want the Naga territory to be attached with India,” the report added.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee further said World War-II had a significant impact on the Nagas as it brought unity and integration among Naga tribes, introduced them to modern guerrilla fighting and provided them a huge cache of arms and ammunition left by the defeated Japanese army. Also after the end of the war, the Naga Hills Tribal Council was formed in April 1945 to help the relief and rehabilitation work, later converted into the Naga National Council (NNC), a year later with the aim of social and political upliftment of the Nagas, adding initially the NNC sought to establish a political solidarity of all Nagas and inclusion of Naga Hills within the Assam province of free India, with sufficient autonomy. But after India’s independence demand for independence of Nagas were voiced from all quarters and NNC rejected the offer of autonomy under the Constitution of India and in 1951, under the leadership of NNC President, Angami Zapu Phizo, referendum was held on the Naga independence.
“The Nagas voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence. They went on to boycott the first General Elections of independent India in1952. The Central Government, in an attempt to curb the secessionist tendencies, deployed army units in Nagaland and conducted a crackdown on the activities of NNCin 1953. In response the Nagas formed a parallel government and a parallel army of their own, Soon the Naga Hills region was embroiled in large-scale conflicts and violence. Phizo left Nagaland in 1956 and ended up in London with an aim to mobilize international support for the cause of the Nagas,” the report said.
Further, the report said NNC was banned in 1971 and a large scale counter insurgency operation was launched which culminated in the signing of Shillong Accord on November 11, 1975. But the accord did not end the insurgency and rebellion against this accord led to the formation of NSCN in 1980 but again the outfit split in 1988. Both the outfits had an objective of establishing a “Nagalim” or greater Nagaland comprising all Naga inhabited areas in India and Myanmar. After years of violence NSCN (IM) signed a truce with the Centre in 1997 and negotiation is going on to resolve the vexed Naga political problem. The Centre also signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN (K) in 2001 but the outfit later abrogated the truce in 2015.
“Peace initiatives have been going on ever since a ceasefire was signed. The NSCN (IM) dropped its demand for sovereignty, after several rounds of negotiations with the Government, however, the issue of integration of all Naga inhabited areas in the northeast, with the existing State of Nagaland, to create a single State remained a thorny issue,” the report said. The Committee said in a significant development the Union Government entered into a framework agreement with the NSCN (IM) on August 3, 2015.
The committee appreciated the security situation in Nagaland and attributed to the signing of framework agreement and expressed hope that inking a final accord would bring a long lasting peace in the State and recommended that the Centre continue efforts to engage the Naga groups and finalize the Naga peace accord.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee further said Centre’s Interlocutor R N Ravi had briefed the Committee that talks have been going on for the last 20 years and their position from the beginning has been that Nagas were exceptional, Nagas were not Indians, Nagas were sovereign and any settlement could be reached only on the basis of the fact that this is a settlement between two sovereigns. While the Centre kept them engaged, they had continued their position that they will be with India on the basis of a negotiated agreement and would not be within India.
“During the course of the last several years, the Government started opening out and reaching out to civil society organisations, Naga tribal bodies and other stakeholders to get the views of the stakeholders, other than NSCN (IM). In 2015, the Government reached an understanding with the NSCN (IM), which agreed for a settlement within Indian federation, with a special status. The Interlocutor informed the Committee that this was a departure from their earlier position of “with India, not within India” and the Government called it “Framework Agreement” and signed it,” the report disclosed.
Subsequently the Union Government contemplated the details of the power sharing with the Government of Nagaland or with other stakeholders. The Interlocutor also apprised the Committee about the broad status of the negotiations and submitted that the negotiations were proceeding towards a situation where boundaries of any State will neither be changed nor altered. “Initially the Nagas had stuck to the idea of unification of Naga inhabited area, resolutely maintaining their stand of “no integration. No solution”. However they had now reached a common understanding with the Government that boundaries of the States will not be touched. Instead some special arrangement would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are. The negotiations were going on over some symbolic issues which are sensitive to both the Government and the Nagas as well, and attempts are being made to reach a common understanding,” the report added.
“The Committee observes that any final agreement will have some implications for the three States viz, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, where Nagas are residing in certain areas. The Committee is of the considered view that any agreement that many be finally arrived at must allay the fears of the stakeholders in these States and the State Governments must be kept abreast with the emerging dynamics of the talks,” the Committee recommended.
Also the Committee stated that it was informed that the contours of the agreement had not been spelt out in the framework agreement. The framework agreement was just about the recognition of the uniqueness of Naga history by the Government of India and an understanding that inclusive settlement will be within the Indian federation with due regards to the uniqueness of the Naga history. The Centre’s Interlocutor also informed the Committee that it was implied in the agreement that some special arrangement will have to be made for the Nagas.
The committee was also informed about special status to Nagas living outside Nagaland in line with Article 371A of the Constitution of India.
The Committee was also apprehensive that any further delay could harm the progress achieved during the last few years and recommended that the Centre conclude the peace talks at the earliest, based on a broad understanding over the contentious issues. It also recommended that the Government tread carefully on the issue sensitive to the Nagas and not let vested interests highjack the peace narrative. (Page News Service)