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What lies beneath?

IFP Editorial: NSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah has been negotiating with the Government of India through interlocutors since 1997 and still there is no end in sight. The question, now, is whether the insistence on a Naga flag and constitution is a bargaining chip for some hidden agenda.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 1 Jun 2022, 2:40 am

NSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah
NSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah

 

When finally RN Ravi was replaced with former IB Director AK Mishra as the GOI interlocutor for the Naga peace process, there was optimism in the NSCN-IM camp of a solution to its liking.

After years of negotiations and a framework agreement, the peace talks came to a grinding halt over the issue of a separate Naga flag and constitution and a war of words between Ravi and IM began. As NSCN-IM supremo Thuingaleng Muivah began to openly voice the demand for Ravi’s ouster and appointment of a new interlocutor, it seemed the 24-year-old talks between the group and GOI was heading for a breakdown.

However, the Union home minister managed to rope in Assam Finance Minister and NEDA Convenor Himanta Biswa Sharma and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to break the deadlock. They succeeded and officials of the Intelligence Bureau have been engaging with the NSCN-IM and deliberations are still going on. Now, the group has expressed its disappointment over the progress of talks even after the appointment of a new interlocutor.

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The stalemate, as usual, seems to be the matter of Naga Flag and Constitution which NSCN IM holds dear to its heart. NSCN-IM is not impressed with the offer of the Naga flag as a cultural symbol. The group has made it clear that the Naga issue is not a cultural issue and it will not forgo the Naga political identity as symbolised by the Naga flag.

Thuingaleng Muivah has been negotiating with the Government of India through interlocutors since 1997 and still there is no end in sight. The secret parleys began in 1995, when the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao met Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu in Paris on June 15.

The then Home Minister Rajesh Pilot again met them in Bangkok in November 1996. Several prime ministers, including HD Deve Gowda and Atal Behari Vajpayee also met them at various locations outside the country secretly, besides scores of Intelligence and top officials of the Home Ministry, till it became official on June 14, 2001 when the then interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah signed the controversial ceasefire ‘without territorial limits’ with the NSCN-IM leaders.

Manipur took exception to the term ‘without territorial limits’ as it was linked with Muivah’s dream of a Greater Nagaland which seeks to bring in contiguous areas inhabited by Nagas in the neighbouring states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh under a single administrative unit called Nagalim along with the state of Nagaland.

After intense agitation in Manipur, the Atal Behari Vajpayee government backtracked on the Bangkok agreement and limited the ceasefire to the state of Nagaland only. It was not only Manipur, but both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh also protested against the agreement.

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With the Nagaland assembly elections in the horizon, political parties and Nagaland based CSOs have become restive in anticipation of a solution to the long protracted negotiations. Particularly, the NNPG comprising Naga underground factions mostly based in the state of Nagaland want a solution with or without the NSCN-IM led by Thuingaleng Muivah from Somdal village, Manipur. They feel NSCN-IM’s insistence on a Naga flag and constitution is becoming a hurdle to a solution for which they had waited long enough and recently grown impatient and vocal.

Meanwhile, the Manipur-based United Naga Council (UNC) asserted that Naga Flag and Naga Constitution are inalienable rights of the Naga people and they are willing to wait even as the negotiations had dragged on for years together.

The question now is whether the insistence on flag and constitution is a bargaining chip for some hidden agenda. What lies beneath the demand?

All know that the Nagalim or Greater Nagaland demand has long been espoused by the NSCN-IM supremo Thuingaleng Muivah, though the Nagas of Nagaland has had always treated the demand as only a honourable mention.

-Editorial

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First published:1 Jun 2022, 2:40 am

Tags:

nagalandnaga talksnaga flagnaga constitutionNSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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