Neiphiu Rio pushes for settlement on Naga accord, consultations with tribal hohos

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By Vijaita Singh | Source—The Hindu


Various groups camping in Delhi for over a month for talks with interlocutor


Representatives of six Naga national political groups and the NSCN-IM (National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Issak-Muivah faction) have been camping in Delhi amid indications that the Naga peace agreement could be signed any time.


Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who was in Delhi last week, told The Hindu that Naga groups had been in Delhi for more than a month to hold talks with interlocutor R.N. Ravi. He said the State government was going to hold consultations with Naga groups in Kohima on May 11 to “prepare a landing ground if settlement has to come through”.


‘How long?’


“For how long can the talks can go on? As a State government, it is our duty to facilitate and see that the settlement comes at the earliest. I am also hosting the Naga Tribal Hoho groups on May 11 in Kohima, where we will be discussing seriously about the Naga political issue. We would also discuss how to coexist,” Mr. Rio said.


He met Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Director of the Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain, and Mr. Ravi, on May 3.


Mr. Ravi, on behalf of the Union government, had signed a framework agreement with NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015, to find a solution to the Naga issue. The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, to unite 1.2 million Nagas.


Mr. Ravi had told The Hindu in 2015 that the agreement was signed with the NSCN-IM as they had taken the lead in the negotiations and had been in talks with the government for the past 18 to 20 years.


On November 27, 2017, Mr. Ravi told a parliamentary panel on Home Affairs that the Centre was also in talks with six other Naga groups — the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Unification), Naga National Council (NNC), NNC/Federal Government of Nagaland, National People’s Government of Nagaland/NNC (Non Accord), National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Reformation) and NNC/Government Democratic Republic of Nagaland (NA). They came together in 2016 to participate in the dialogue.


‘Hard negotiation’


Mr. Rio said, “The Naga political issue is unresolved and hard negotiation is going on. We are pressing the Naga nationalist groups and Government of India that settlement should come immediately. This is a demand of the common man. Negotiations going on for more than two decades, which means there are some serious issues.”


He added that since he was an “outsider”, he could not comment on the sovereignty clause.


Mr. Rio said that it was the State’s demand that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) be removed. “It is our demand and desire that all these draconian laws are removed, not only from Nagaland but from the whole country. But where the situation persists, these laws are required and that is why they are enacted,” he said.


On February 3, days before Nagaland went to the polls, Mr. Ravi wrote to Naga groups assuring them that the newly elected Assembly would not come in way of the final Naga accord. Following this, the NSCN-IM and other groups took back the call for a boycott of the Assembly elections, which could have led to a Constitutional crisis.

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