‘Nagas in India & Myanmar should have separate settlement’
Kohima, April 13: Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio today claimed that the negotiating parties of the Indo-Naga political dialogue have resolved the ‘contentious issues’ but are yet to come to terms with the symbolic issues.
“What I am aware is that the contentious issues are resolved and have come to understanding but the symbolic issues have not come to terms and that is the actual stumbling block,” Rio told reporters here while walking out of a hectic day from his official chamber in the State Civil Secretariat.
Rio had told The Indian Express in Agartala where he had gone to attend the NITI Aayog meet for Northeast earlier this week that the much awaited Naga peace accord is in its “final stages” and issues related to “autonomy” have been settled between the Centre’s representative and Naga groups. “Only symbolic issues such as flag and passport” are to be resolved, he had said in Agartala.
The NSCN (IM) entered into ceasefire with the Government of India in 1997 and started the peace talks while the Framework Agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 in the presence of the Prime Minister. Six other Naga nationalist political groups (NNPGs), except NSCN(K) and NNC led by Adino Phizo, also entered into dialogue last year.
“They (negotiating parties) were even trying to resolve the issues before the recently held state general elections, so now how soon they will come to understanding and agree upon those things depends,” Rio said today.
The fourth-time Chief Minister said that “now that other NNPGs have also come to talks they all have to put their head together”.
“If they want solution, what is possible and what is not should be sorted out,” Rio exclaimed.
“I am not going into details about the flags and passport or other things but when one says symbolic issues it may be some of those kinds or many others too and every time they are discussing the same thing,” he said.
On ‘Naga integration’, Rio said the Centre has already spell out that Nagas have the legitimate right to be integrated but physically as of now it is not possible so it has to go through democratic process. “Those are contentious issues where both parties are understanding one another and that is a big breakthrough for both sides. These are very serious contentious issues,” he said.
Asked whether any solution to the Naga political problem will be acceptable without the involvement of NSCN(K) in the talks, Rio said “I am not the authority to speak about that but everybody is aware the majority of the NSCN(K) group belongs to the Naga people in Myanmar.
Since India and Myanmar are two countries, “I strongly feel that Nagas in India divided into four states should come together and Myanmar Nagas should take a separate settlement because as now also Nagas are recognized and have self autonomous government while also having representatives in the Myanmar parliament.
Therefore, Rio felt that “a country cannot take decision for another country”.
Meanwhile The Indian Express quoted Rio as having said that the the elected Government will not stand in the way of the agreement whenever it is finalised between Naga groups and the Government of India. However, he refused to fix a deadline for completion of peace talks. The framework agreement between the Centre and the NSCN(IM) was signed on August 3, 2015, in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rio added, “The armed cadre of NSCN (IM) will be taken care of during the agreement.”
Officials said that one of the proposals was to convert the armed cadre into Naga battalions which will be placed under the control of the State Government while the Centre could fund and train them. However, a final decision is yet to be taken.
The Naga groups wanted a joint military grouping, which is to be supported by the Indian Army and the NSCN (IM)’s military wing, the ‘Naga Army’, the officials said.
On being asked about the possibility of partial removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state, the Chief Minister said, “This can only be done once the peace talks are over.” (Page News Service)