It was today on the 3rd August in 2015 when the historic Framework Agreement was signed under the dynamic leadership of the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. It was signed with much hype and anticipation in the political circle. There was much excitement and jubilation as Prime Minister Mr. Modi called up all the political leaders who matters that he has solved the longest political issue of Southeast Asia. But five (5) years down the line the scourge of manipulation, misinterpretation and insincerity has kept the pot boiling.
It may be recalled that the Indo-Naga political dialogue which started in 1997 after the declaration of the Second Indo-Naga Ceasefire on 1st August, 1997 has covered twenty three (23) years of long journey. Despite the failure of the Indo-Naga peace talks that took place after the First Indo-Naga Ceasefire in 1964 the fire of Naga political struggle has been kept burning. There was intense military operation to suppress the Naga political movement. When NSCN took over the banner in 1980, the struggle was taken to a greater height both in military strength and international campaign. Finally, Indian Army generals admitted the futility of attempting to subdue the Naga political struggle by military means. This prompted the Government of India to take the move for political talks with NSCN. So, after more than thirty (30) years the Government of India under the then Prime Minister Mr. PV Narasimha Rao picked up the thread as he established contact with NSCN leaders abroad. He met NSCN leaders in Paris (France) with the words “We invited you for political talks because people are with you. The issue is with you and you have proved yourselves”.
NSCN, however, took the stand that it will enter into political negotiation with the Government of India only after GoI recognized the Naga issue as political and not as India’s “Internal Law and Order Issue”
The Second-Indo-Naga Ceasefire was thus declared on 1st August, 1997and it was agreed that the political dialogue shall be at the highest level, i.e. Prime Minister Level, Without Pre-condition and Outside India in a Third Country.
As per agreement, several rounds of talks were held in third countries like Paris (France), New York (USA), The Hague (Netherlands), Bangkok and Chiangmai (Thailand), Zurich (Geneva), Osaka (Japan), Kuala-Lumpur (Malaysia), Vienna (Austria) and Milan (Italy).
The turning point of Indo-Naga political talks came in 2002 when the Joint Communique of Amsterdam, July 11, 2002 was signed to give GoI’s official recognition to the unique history and situation of the Nagas. Henceforth, the Indo-Naga political talks found a strong foothold as talks were deeply planted from the realistic point of view.
A time came when the Government of India invited NSCN leadership Chairman Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and General Secretary and Chief Naga Negotiator Mr. Th. Muivah to come to Delhi to facilitate more frequency of interactions. So in December 2002 they came to New Delhi.
It was in the year 2010 during the interlocutor ship of Mr. RS Pandey when the Indo-Naga political negotiations gained new momentum. To push forward for an honorable political settlement, GoI submitted its first comprehensive official response to the NSCN in New Delhi. The proposal was made that political dialogue should move forward on the principle of “Shared Sovereignty”.
After undergoing several rounds of talks it gave birth to the signing of the much hyped Framework Agreement on 3rd August, 2015 at the official residence of the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. It was a defining moment as it was arranged as a high profile political program where all the dignitaries who matters from both sides were present. The world was made to witness as it was live telecast on different TV channels.
The concluding remark of FA said: “It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded and we are confident it will provide for an enduring new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities. The two sides agreed that within this Framework Agreement details and execution plan will be worked out and implemented shortly”.
Mr. RN Ravi was given the honor to sign on behalf of the Government of India, and from the NSCN side it was signed by NSCN Chairman Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and NSCN General Secretary Mr. Th. Muivah.
Ironically, after five (5) years while the FA has been put in cold storage, something unthinkable emanating from the Raj Bhawan in Kohima has taken over the scene. But the ulterior motive behind such move has forced the Nagas to point fingers against RN Ravi, India’s interlocutor to Indo-Naga political talks. As seen in the verbal tone of RN Ravi, he has upped the ante against the Naga political groups as he brazenly used slanderous terminology like “armed gangs” “underground groups”. But what has directly pricked the consciousness of the Naga people at large is when Ravi went for the profiling. He made the Nagaland state government to issue Office Memorandum on 7th July, 2020 to all the Administrative Heads of Departments seeking information from employees about their relations with the Naga underground groups. But we put on record that there are no Naga families who are not connected with the Naga political groups in one way or the other.
What has driven the Naga people far away from Ravi is his deceptive manner of handling the FA as he deceitfully went beyond the call of interlocutor to indulge himself in playing divisive game among the Nagas to dismantle the very foundation of FA. This has, therefore, created a huge trust deficit on the Government of India. The way forward with regard to the fate of FA is now faced with deep ambivalence. But Government of India must undo the environment of mistrust being built over the time because it should not take recourse to unethical means to circumvent any conceived obstacles. What has been mutually agreed upon should be honored in letter and spirit and that is the only way forward.
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