Indo-Naga talks without integration of Naga areas will be futile: NSCN (IM)
Naga Republic News & Analysis
A day after Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had reiterated that no stakeholder states will be harmed because of the Framework Agreement, the NSCN (IM) has shot off a statement probably aimed to counter Rijiju’s latest assertion by pointing out that the Indo-Naga talks without integration of Naga areas will be futile.
Rijiju it may be mentioned was in Imphal on Friday to attend a security review meeting along with other officials of his ministry when he made the statement.
Interestingly, BJP National President Amit Shah was also in Imphal around the same time meeting party top brass from the North East region to chalk out strategy for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had also publicly assured Nagaland’s neighbours that integration was out of the question. It was also reported that the Union Home Minister was in touch with all the Chief Ministers and stakeholders on the issue.
The NSCN (IM)’s key demand to integrate Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur has been strongly opposed by the three BJP-ruled states.
Seeking to allay concerns of the three northeastern states, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced on December 8, 2017 that the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur would not be compromised while inking the final Naga peace accord.
Meanwhile it was after one of the meetings with Rajnath Singh that Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had reportedly conveyed the position of the Government of India on the integration issue pointing out that integration of the Naga inhabited areas was not possible.
The NSCN-IM also slammed the Nagaland Chief Minister for his recent reported statement that toed Delhi’s current line of thinking.
From the recent public posture adopted by both sides to the peace talks (i.e. the GoI and NSCN-IM), there appears to be some tension regarding the Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015.
Both sides seem to be interpreting the Framework Agreement according to their perception and constituency. Unfortunately the secrecy surrounding the agreement is not helpful.
In response to the Government of India’s lukewarm response on the issue, the NSCN (IM) has asserted that the issue of integration of “all the Naga territories is an integral part of the ongoing Indo-Naga political dialogue”. In a statement on July 1 (Sunday), the outfit said the Indo-Naga political talks without integration of all the contiguous Naga areas will be a futile exercise.
The outfit also slammed Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for his “irrational and irresponsible statements” on Naga territorial integration.
It appears that all is not well with the Framework Agreement given that the BJP led government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks to take a tough posture, including on national security. The BJP had recently withdrawn support to its regional ally the PDP in Jammu & Kashmir taking a ‘muscular approach’ to crack down on militancy.
Earlier as well, the NSCN (IM) had lashed out at Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju for “vitiating the atmosphere of negotiations” by saying the issue of sovereignty has been dropped from the talks agenda and that “territorial integrity of all States would be maintained”.
“At no point of the negotiation have both the parties ignored important political issues, and the concocted statement of Mr. Rijiju that NSCN has dropped the stand of the Nagas on their sovereign right is a figment of his imagination,” the NSCN-IM had said in a statement earlier in the year.
Making its position public, the NSCN (IM) in its latest statement stated that “Naga territories which have been kept apart arbitrarily and indiscriminately by the British in the first place and then further divided between Burma (now Myanmar) and India under Nehru without the knowledge and consent of the Naga people is totally unacceptable”.
The release said in recognition of the Nagas’ history and situation as unique by the Government of India, the historic Framework Agreement of August 3, 2015 was signed between the Government of India and the NSCN.
That both the GoI and the NSCN (IM) are interpreting the content of the Framework Agreement differently and that too when the talks are supposedly at an ‘advanced stage’ is clearly an indication of negotiations facing some kind of deadlock.
While both Kiren Rijiju and Rajnath Singh have ruled out integration, the NSCN (IM) claims that “both the parties agreed and recognized that integration of all the contiguous Naga areas is the legitimate right of the Naga people and it is mutually agreed that it will be pursued through earnest political democratic process”.
“Now, after 21 years of negotiations, India and Naga people are prepared to finalize the political dialogue to its logical conclusion and resolve the oldest political problem in the entire South East Asia,” the release further maintained.
Any attempt, at this crucial juncture, to undermine or disturb the peace process without being able to make head or tail of the negotiation shall no longer be tolerated, the NSCN (IM) warned.
It also termed the recent “irrational and irresponsible statements” on Naga territorial integration by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio as nothing but a direct challenge to the Naga national cause.
Rio appears to be caught under pressure as his government in Nagaland is dependent on crucial political support of the BJP. The NSCN (IM) is clearly aware of the situation.
“Who is he to barter the legitimate rights of the Nagas in the open market for personal glory? Whom is he trying to please by surrendering the history and the legitimate right of the Nagas?” the NSCN (IM) asked.
“Such a treacherous attempt to enhance personal political ambition at the expense of the Nagas’ right is a deliberate insult to the Naga people’s sentiment”, it stated.
The release also reminded that this hard earned political achievement has come at the cost of untold sufferings and supreme sacrifices rendered by thousands of Naga sons and daughters. “No individual or organization is licensed to talk cheaply on the history of our people,” the NSCN (IM) added.
It will be of interest to observe as to how the claims and counter claims over the Framework Agreement plays out even as both sides resolve to conclude the two decade old political negotiation before the present tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is only a few months away.