The Gordian knot enveloping the Naga peace talks could not be untied through the year gone-by, as a final agreement acceptable to all sides remained elusive with Naga rebels and the Centre agreeing to disagree on two key issues.
The coming of Centre’s new interlocutor for Naga Peace talks, A K Mishra to Dimapur in Nagaland earlier last year and holding parleys with representatives of various Naga groups and other stakeholders in an effort to resolve the vexed problem had spread hope that a solution to the decades long insurgency in the state would come as a welcome Christmas gift.
Mishra met the leadership of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isac-Muivah) including veteran leader Th Muivah inside the group’s headquarters in Hebron, a first in the history of such talks.
A former special director of the Intelligence Bureau, Mishra succeeded the last Interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R N Ravi, who was transferred to Tamil Nadu as the Governor in September last year.
After this, the negotiations continued in Delhi with Muivah and other leaders of the group for several rounds, but a final settlement remained elusive, as the NSCN-IM remained adamant on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas. A demand, which till now has not favour with the Centre.
However, while marking the 25th year of ceasefire with the Centre, the NSCN-IM has assured it will continue to uphold the ceasefire.
The reassurance was made by the Ceasefire Monitoring Cell (CFMC) of the NSCN-IM on completion of 25 years of ceasefire agreement with the GoI entered on July 25, 1997.
The Government of India has been holding separate dialogue with the NSCN-IM and the Working Committee of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) since 1997 and 2017 respectively.
NNPGs comprise of at least seven Naga groups.
It inked the Framework Agreement with NSCN-IM in August 2015 and the Agreed Position with NNPGs in November 2017.
While NNPGs have agreed to accept a solution and continue the dialogue, the NSCN-IM has been rigid on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas.
“They (Naga negotiators) have come back from Delhi and nothing is likely to happen before Christmas as talks will resume only after the festive season,” Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had said last month.
On the other hand, the Centre heeded to the cry of the people of the State for removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 from Nagaland.
On March 31, the Centre announced withdrawal of AFSPA 1958 from 15 police stations in 7 districts in Nagaland with effect from April 1, which was welcomed by the State government but rejected by Naga civil societies demanding complete repeal of the Act from the State.
AFSPA was imposed in the entire state of Nagaland from 1958 to curb the Naga insurgency movement.
A demand from people residing in six districts supported by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) for a separate state – ‘Frontier Nagaland’ – too remained a chimera.
The ENPO, an apex body of the seven tribes from the six districts – Mon, Tuensang, Longleng, Kiphire, Noklak and Shamator, had started seeking a separate state from 2010 and in August this year announced a boycott of the Hornbill Festival held from December 1 to 10, to highlight the demand .