Naga group camps in Delhi, says separate flag, constitution must for peace deal

Top NSCN-IM leaders, including general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, take forward talks with Home Ministry and Intelligence Bureau officials without presence of interlocutor

Naga tribes spread across the northeastern states have been demanding a separate and sovereign state. Photo: PTI

The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah faction), the largest Naga armed group in talks with the Centre, has said without a separate flag and constitution, the peace deal with the government will not lead to an honourable solution.

The NSCN-IM’s joint council meeting on Friday discussed the “historical and political rights of the Naga people” and the status of the “Indo-Naga political talks.”

A delegation of top leaders of NSCN-IM, including general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, is camping in Delhi for taking forward the talks with officials of the Home Ministry and the Intelligence Bureau, without Ravi, sources said.

The NSCN-IM’s meeting was held at the central headquarters in Hebron near Dimapur in Nagaland. Sources said the Naga group’s tough stand indicates a deadlock in talks with the centre with differences between the group and the Central interlocutor RN Ravi, the Governor of Nagaland, reaching a point of no return.

On August 16, the Naga armed group had released the contents of the framework agreement signed in 2015 and kept confidential so far. The pact, signed by NSCN-IM leaders and Ravi, was to set the term for a final peace pact between the government and armed groups that had fought for an independent Naga state for decades.

Related news: Naga peace deal: Interlocutor’s tiff with militant outfit may delay pact

According to the papers released by NSCN-IM in August, the 2015 agreement laid the ground for a settlement that involved the Indian government and the Nagas “sharing the sovereign power”. The Naga group alleged that Ravi had “manipulated” the document in his submission to the parliamentary standing committee to suggest that any solution would be within the limits of the Indian Constitution and concerned only the state of Nagaland. On August 14, in a speech to commemorate ‘Naga independence day’, NSCN-IM chief Thuingaleng Muivah declared Nagas would co-exist, but not merge with India.

It said on Friday that without a separate flag and constitution, the peace deal with the Centre would not lead to an honourable solution.

“The house had unanimously adopted the resolution to reiterate the stand of NSCN-IM that the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (constitution) must form a part of the Indo-Naga political solution in order to qualify the Naga deal as honourable and acceptable,” NSCN-IM said in a press statement.

A presumptive Naga homeland has spurred decades of militancy spanning across Nagaland, the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar across the border.

In 1975, the Centre inked the Shillong Accord with a few leaders of the underground Naga National Council, which was the only secessionist group at the time. The pact accepted the supremacy of the Indian Constitution, which led to a splintering of the militancy and a phase of intense violence as different groups became locked in internecine wars.

The NSCN was formed in 1980. It split into the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah factions in 1988. More splinter groups formed over the decades.

In 1997, the government signed a ceasefire with the NSCN-IM and started talks. Another ceasefire was signed with NSCN-K in 2001 but negotiations failed to move forwards and the armed group stormed out of it in 2014. While the framework agreement was signed with the NSCN-IM in 2015, worries remained.

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