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Nagas deserve more autonomy: Pandey
Published on 7 Mar. 2010 1:29 AM IST
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The government is willing to offer Nagaland greater autonomy in running its affairs and is learnt to be considering a move to transfer a few subjects from the Concurrent List to the State List exclusively in the case of this state to resolve the six-decade-old conflict and insurgency. “They deserve greater autonomy in running their own affairs. Greater autonomy is something which ought to be considered as part of the honourable negotiated settlement,” the Government’s Interlocutor R.S Pandey told The Indian Express. He added that the modalities of autonomy need to be negotiated. “There is a will on both sides to solve the issue. We have to be a little patient. I am optimistic.” Pandey, a 1972-batch Nagaland cadre IAS officer who also served as Chief Secretary in Nagaland, has already held a few rounds of formal and informal talks with the representatives of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak -Muivah) and is learnt to have succeeded in breaking some ice with NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah. In fact, in one of his recent parleys with with NSCN-IM leaders, Pandey started conversing in Nagamese, even cracking a few jokes in the language, and managed to strike a rapport with the Naga leaders. Having already conveyed to the Naga leaders that it acknowledges their “uniqueness”, the Centre has brought to the table the idea of transferring some subjects from the Concurrent List (a list of 47 subjects on which both the Centre and the State can make laws) to the State List. If agreed to by both the side, the move will be made following a constitutional amendment, reported The India Express. The concept of ‘sovereignty’, too, is being discussed threadbare in the talks. While the Naga leaders, in the run-up to the talks, said that they were not ready to compromise on their demand for sovereignty, the Centre is now trying to explain and underline that the “states are also sovereign in certain matters” and that India has a concept of “shared sovereignty”. “Like certain issues which are in the exclusive domain of the Central government and Parliament, there are matters which are in the exclusive domain of the state governments and the state legislative assemblies and in those matters the states are sovereign. This is what is being explained and emphasised to them. Also, if you ask them whether they don’t want anything to do with India, their answer is: No,” a source said. Government sources also point out that a look at the past utterances of the Naga leaders and the stance taken by the Centre (which is even recorded in Parliament speeches) makes the differences appear to be irreconcilable. “But the fact that both sides are still willing to talk and are now actually talking means that there is room for settlement,” a source close to the deliberations said. “The Nagas are people who are entitled to respect and dignity. There has to be mutual respect. They are straight forward people and the approach has to be very right. Only then one can think of a solution,” he said. The centre during its recent talks with the NSCN (I-M) in New Delhi has rejected the sovereignty and ‘greater Nagalim’ demands of the Nagas. On NSCN (I-M)’s demand for a ‘greater Nagalim’ including some territories of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, sources said the Naga leaders were conveyed that it would be solving one problem while raising three others.

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