RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- NAGA TALKS- ISSUES & WAY FORWARD
With the round of peace, the Nagaland and Manipur governments have taken steps to meet any eventuality and have put their respective police forces on “high alert”. Officials said in Kohima the Nagaland government has directed all deputy commissioners of the districts and administrative officers to remain in their place of posting and within their jurisdiction till further orders. In neighbouring Manipur, where Nagas have a sizeable presence, security forces in the state have been put on high alert and a large number of security forces, including women personnel have been deployed at important areas to thwart any “unwanted activities”. The crucial round of to find a lasting solution to the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency problem has remained inconclusive. Naga tribal organizations, civil societies and political groups have been saying that any agreement on the Naga issue should be “inclusive, honourable and acceptable to all sections of the people”.
Who are the Nagas and what is the issue?
- In ethnically rich north-east India, the Nagas are a community that comprise several hundred tribes. This community lives across the Naga hills spanning present day Indian state of Nagaland, certain areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, along with the Naga hill areas of Myanmar.
- One of the key demands of this long-standing dispute with the Government of India is the formation of the autonomous region of Greater Nagalim, which would include all these areas.
- The Naga hills became part of British India in 1881 after the ‘annexation’ of Assam in 1826. This led to the unification of Naga tribes to form the Naga Club in 1918.
- The Club formed its political unit, the Naga National Council (NNC), in 1946, thus beginning the fight for freedom from foreign rule.
- On August 14, 1947, the NNC, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo (called the Father of the Nagas), declared Nagaland an independent state. Following an alleged referendum in the state that supported a “sovereign Nagaland”, Phizo formed the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA) in 1952 that sparked the scuffle with the government.
- There are multi stakeholders and they all are not restricted to Ngaland alone.
- Aspirations of Naga people are not uniform.
- Issue of demand for separate flag and constitution.
The Timeline Of Naga Peace Accord:
- AUG 1947:Naga National Council led by Angami Zapu Phizo revolts, NNC subsequently resolves to establish a sovereign Naga state
- MAY 1951:After ‘referendum’ NNC claims 99% of Naga people support independence. NNC boycotts first general election of 1952, launches violent secessionist movement
- MAR 22, 1956:Phizo creates underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA)
- APR 1956:New Delhi sends Army to crush insurgency in the (then) Naga Hills District of Assam; Phizo escapes to (then) East Pakistan in December and, subsequently, in June 1960, to London
- 1958:Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enacted for Naga Hills District
- DEC 1, 1963:Nagaland attains statehood
- 1964:Peace Mission of Jai Prakash Narayan, B P Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott to Nagaland, an Agreement for Suspension of Operation is signed with insurgents
- NOV 11, 1975:Shillong Accord signed between Centre and NNC
- 1980:Thuingaleng Muivah, Isak Chisi Swu, S S Khaplang form NSCN
- 1988:NSCN splits, Khole Konyak and Khaplang form NSCN (K)
- JUNE 15, 1995:P V Narasimha Rao meets Muivah and Isak in Paris
- FEB 3, 1997:Deve Gowda meets NSCN (IM) leadership in Zurich
- JULY 25, 1997:India and NSCN (IM) sign ceasefire agreement, which comes into effect on Aug 1
- SEP 30, 1998:Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra meet NSCN (IM) leaders in Paris
- JAN 9-11, 2003:Muivah and Isak hold talks with Vajpayee and Advani in Delhi
- DEC 7, 2004:NSCN (IM) leaders meet Manmohan Singh
- JULY 31, 2007:Ceasefire between NSCN (IM) and Government of India extended indefinitely
What is the demand?
- A “Greater Nagalim” comprising “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, along with Nagaland. That included several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar.
- The map of “Greater Nagalim” has about 1,20,000 sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km. The claims have always kept Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh wary of a peace settlement that might affect their territories.
- The Nagaland Assembly has endorsed the ‘Greater Nagalim’ demand — “Integration of all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella” — as many as five times: in December 1964, August 1970, September 1994, December 2003 and as recently as on July 27, 2015.
Key components of NAGA ACCORD:-
- NSCN – IM has been derecognized as a militant organization and talks have been initiated with the government
- GOI is open to discuss the Naga territorial issue within the existing boundaries of the neighboring states of Manipur, Assasm etc which are being claimed as part of Greater Nagalism.
- Key issues that have been put under consideration includes AFSPA, demographic changes due to cross border migrations and other tribals like Meitei who are diluting the local populations in the Naga areas.
How did the Naga issue turn violent?
- Following the self-determination of Naga tribes, the Centre viewed the NFG and the NFA as a threat to democracy and the unity of India, so much so that it sent in the army to crush the rising emergency.
- In 1958, it enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, giving the army judicial impunity in matters of internal security.
- The army’s control over the state petered out by the 1970s as the NNC and NFG agreed to give up arms by signing the Shillong Accord with the Government of India.
- However, the insurgency returned with raging intensity with the formation of the NNC breakaway faction, the NSCN, in 1980. Three key members – Thuingaleng Muivah, Isak Chishi Swu, and SS Khaplang – left the NNC to form the National Socialist Council of Nagaland.
- A hundred and forty members of the NSCN under the leadership of Thuingaleng Muivah refused the Shillong Accord, leading to a decade on violence in the Northeast.
How do other north-east states view the Naga demand?
- While the Naga rebel outfits have successfully been able to get the Centre to the table for talks, neighbouring states are wary of the impact of the peace talks. This makes the Naga issue a tricky space for a lasting solution.
- Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are sceptical about the demand for creation of Greater Nagalim because it could lead to the redrawing of their boundaries.
- The final outcome may affect the states in terms of trade and commerce, as well as cultural and ethnic unity.
- In a petition, Manipur has voiced protest against the dilution of the state’s territorial integrity.
- Similarly, Arunachal Pradesh has also raised similar concerns, with the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) demanding that the Pema Khandu government in the state should take a stand on the matter.
Way Forward to resolve the issue:
- All concerned stakeholders should be brought together and proper solution needs to be worked upon.
- It should be win win situation to both sides.
- Today, the Naga youths are somewhat more eager to solve this long issue.
- The history of Indo-Naga conflict shows that various past agreements have broken down due to different interpretations of the provisions by the parties at their convenience.
- Nagas are culturally heterogeneous groups of different communities/tribes having a different set of problems from mainstream population.
- In order to achieve the long-lasting solution, their cultural, historical and territorial extent must be taken into consideration.
- Need to create a body which will handle all Naga’s interest beyond boundaries.
- Therefore, any arrangement to be worked out should lead to social and political harmony, economic prosperity and protection of the life and property of all tribes and citizens of the states.
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