In an attempt to inform to the people on the Indo-Naga peace talk status, the NSCN (-M) said today that the last round of “Indo-Naga formal talk” that took place on November 14, 2023, in Delhi was “not conclusive but not a deadlocked”. While trying to explain the turns of events of the dialogue, the NSCN (I-M) said that, in order to understand the “protracted Indo-Naga issue, we have to open the whole vista of historical facts and the subsequent peace-making efforts that brought us to this point”.
Acknowledging that the “so-called ‘16-point memorandum’ and the ‘Shillong Accord’ have taken the Naga political issue no where towards solving the Indo- Naga political problem, the Government of India invited the leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) for political talks. These infamous agreements could not solve the problem because they were not issue-based solutions,” the NSCN (I-M) said in a statement made available to Newmai News Network.
In the initial talk held in Paris, France on June 12, 1995, between Prime Minister of India, PV Narasimha Rao and the NSCN (I-M) leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Th Muivah, the chairman and the general secretary of NSCN (I-M) respectively, it was mutually agreed that political dialogue would be held on the basis of three terms-talks without conditions; talks at the highest level-i.e., at the Prime Minister level; and talks in third countries, the NSCN (I-M) statement said.
In the talks that followed, the Cease-Fire Agreement based on the three agreed terms was declared on August 1, 1997. The Cease-Fire Agreement was announced by the then Prime Minister I K Gujral in the Indian Parliament whereas Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman of NSCN (I-M) announced it in the UNPO General Assembly that was held at the Hague, Netherlands, the NSCN (I-M) also said. The declaration of Ceasefire Agreement was warmly welcomed and applauded by the international communities when the news was made known in the United Nations Human Rights meeting, it added.
“It is on record how the former Indian Prime Ministers- Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Deve Gowda, V PSingh and Chandra Shekhar considered the Indo-Naga political issue as a matter of exigency that requires tremendous amount of statesmanship and leadership towards working out a lasting political solution to the chronic Indo-Naga political problem,” the NSCN (I-M) statement recalled.
It further recalled that, on July 30, 2000, the Government of India and the NSCN (I-M) “as two entities” extended the Indo-Naga Ceasefire agreement for another period of three months. The Naga national entity had already been recognized by UNPO, a parallel organization to UNO. The term entity was reiterated in the subsequent talks held on June 13 and 14, 2001, in Bangkok, the NSCN (I-M) statement also said.
“Notably, it was during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani when the Government of India formally recognized the unique history and situation of the Nagas on July11, 2002 in Amsterdam,” the statement added.
It then said, “Chief Negotiator Th.Muivah took great pains in explaining the uniqueness of Naga history and situation. By unique history, it means Nagas have the history of Independence from time immemorial. They have never been an integral part of Union of India and that of Burma, either by conquest or by consent. By unique position it means that the Naga issue is a case of resistance against invasion forces and not that of secessionist movement. The two Indian leaders acknowledged these hard facts,” the NSCN (I-M) explained.
The Congress led UPA government headed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed the concept of ‘shared sovereignty and co-existence of the two entities,’ the significance of which is self-explanatory, the statement added.
“The development brought many changes of fast tempo. Finally, the historic Framework Agreement was signed between government to India represented by RN Ravi, the Interlocutor and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim headed by its Chairman, Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th Muivah, the chief negotiator on August 3, 2015 in the presence of the honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Home Minister Rajnath Singh; Indian Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag; National Security Advisor of India Ajit Doval, Cabinet Secretary, PMO Secretary, Home Secretary and a host of NSCN leaders.
The signing ceremony of this historic event was live broadcasted through the national TV Channels which was witnessed by the whole world,” the NSCN (I-M) reminded.
The Framework Agreement reiterates the unique history and position of the Nagas, the NSCN (I-M) also said. The concepts of shared-sovereignty and co-existence have also been explained therein. It says, “in democracy, sovereignty lies with the people”, which implies that sovereignty of the Nagas is with the Naga people, the NSCN (I-M) stated.
The NSCN (I-M) then said it is pertinent to reproduce here the very clause mentioned in the draft prepared by the government of India: “In the matters of her own affairs, as mutually agreed upon, Nagaland shall be sovereign. The agreement shall cover all Naga areas”.
The statement also said the incumbent representative of the Government of India once said that “wrong chapters took place in the past”. “He assured us that solution would be worked out on the basis of the Framework Agreement. He leaves no room to doubt that Framework Agreement is the corner stone and the right time has come to work out solution. However, contrary to his commitment, he changed colours as he tried to interpret the Framework Agreement without any political depth considering the historical and political rights of the Nagas. His interpretation is only from the perspective of the Indian constitution and interests, to which NSCN talk team strongly opposed,” the NSCN (I-M) further added.
On the issue of Naga national flag, the Indian representative had said, “The Government of India has acknowledged/recognized the Naga national flag”, the NSCN (I-M) claimed.
“We were utterly disappointed when he backtracked later. Notwithstanding this, we submitted our draft on the subject matter of flag. Despite the Government of India’s wavering stand, nothing could be further from the truth as flag and constitution are the integral parts of sovereignty. Sovereignty without flag and constitution is a form without content. Nagas have been in existence for thousands of years in their own land in accordance with our own sets of law. Our Chief negotiator Th. Muivah had unequivocally stated that solution without Naga national flag and constitution will never be acceptable to the Naga people,” the NSCN (I-M) asserted.
On the issue of Naga territorial integration, “our chief Negotiator stated that “the Nagas were divided by the colonial power and placed them under different units for their administrative convenience. The Nagas are the victims of that divide-and-rule policy. We are the aggrieved, not the aggressors.”
To this, the interlocutor of the Government of India concurred, saying that integration of all Naga areas is the legitimate right of the Nagas, to be materialized through political process, the NSCN (I-M) also said. It is also mutually agreed that the ownership of land and natural resources including minerals on and below belongs to the Nagas, the NSCN (I-M) further stated.
Apart from the government and “Tatar Hoho”, a statutory body that may be called Pan Naga Hoho (PNH) comprising all Naga tribes, wherever they are, will also be established to safeguard and promote Naga identity, integrity, and interests including social, cultural and customary practices, language and dialects of various tribes, the statement informed.
“We no longer view the Indians as our enemy in the light of peaceful coexistence. But we cannot sacrifice our national principle for the sake of buying friendship. Significantly, the Framework Agreement mentions, ‘co-existence of the two entities sharing sovereign power’”, it said.
It means that Indians and Nagas will coexist as two entities on the basis of “equality and mutual respect of rights” as clearly stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “this Framework Agreement addresses the sovereign rights of the Nagas and their future as well as the security and commercial interests of India”.
“This historic agreement is seen and appreciated by many international peacemakers as the roadmap to a lasting peace in the Indian sub-continent,” the statement also added.
“Unfortunately, what has begun with much fanfare is now going the way betrayal of trust because of the lack of sincerity on the part of the Indian government. This has created huge trust deficit and disillusionment among the people. Friends and critics often said the Government of India is playing with time to diminish the hard-earned Framework Agreement. But that will be too costly. The ball is in the court of Government of India,” the NSCN (I-M) also stated.
The NSCN (I-M) then said the Naga national movement is blessed with divine presence that no power on earth can up root it. “It is through the mighty name of the Lord that the Naga issue has been salvaged from the devious plots of the adversary time and again. As we repose our faith in God’s grace, we shall handle our “struggle of destination” no matter how daunting may be the task,” it concluded.