Naga peace talks stuck in differences over flag, constitution

NSCN-IM is firmly against Centre’s "post solution offer”, but NNPGs is open for discussion now

NSCN-IM leader Thuingaleng Muivah. Pic: PTI

The demand of the Naga insurgent groups to retain their flag and Constitution have emerged as the bottlenecks in concluding peace talks to end decades-long conflict in the north eastern state of Nagaland.

One of the prominent rebel groups, NSCN-IM, has out rightly rejected the Centre’s “post solution offer” to address the issues.

The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) issued a statement on Saturday (October 16) saying the vexed Naga issue has persisted for several years not because of the Naga people but as a result of “India’s malicious pleasure violating the historical and political rights of the Naga people for more than six decades”.

The outfit accused the Union government of not showing a strong will, unlike past, to solve the conflict and instead has resorted to planting “made in India collaborators” to confuse the local communities.

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Notably, the Government of India had signed the Framework Agreement with NSCN-IM in 2015 to find a solution to the Naga political issue. It is also in talks with a group of seven Naga national political groups (NNPGs) since 2017.

The talks with NSCN-IM started once again after a two-year break. This happened when the Centre appointed former Intelligence Bureau special director, AK Mishra, as the new interlocutor. Mishra had replaced Nagaland Governor R N Ravi as the interlocutor on the insistence of NSCN-IM, which was upset with Ravi when he said the government would not accept the rebel group’s demand for recognition to the separate flag and Constitution for the Naga people.

“The checkered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit. Naturally, the Nagas are still haunted by this flamboyant show of dealing on the Naga issue,” the NSCN (IM) added.

“NSCN’s stand is loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that is linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and constitution which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity,” it added.

There also appears to be some rift within the Naga groups (NSCN and NNPGs) since N Kitovi Zhimomi, the convenor of NNPGs working committee, recently said that “the Naga flag’s unrestrained political usage and Naga integration would be pursued democratically post-solution”, a stand opposed by the NSCN, The Hindustan Times reported.

Meanwhile, there were reports that different Naga groups were holding talks with the Union government separately, exposing differences within the groups.

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