Post Mortem

Nagas can rebuild our future if there is unity of purpose

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/14/2020 1:56:51 PM IST

 The Naga Rising (TNR) has issued several public statements on the Naga political negotiations between August 2019 and August 2020, a summary of which is posted on our under the title ‘The Naga Rising and its position on the Indo-Naga political issue’. 

The immediate focus of this statement is limited to the nature and signing of an agreement with India and the position of The Naga Rising on this.

It has become quite clear that the upcoming peace accord with India will not fulfill the fullest aspiration of the Naga political movement. A few points are noted here for public record.

1. Recognizing the long held tradition of the Naga political struggle, The Naga Rising had earlier taken the stand that the mandate for political negotiation with the Government of India rests with the Naga Political Groups (NPGs).

The signatories to a peace accord, if and when it happens, must be the NPGs and representative/s of the Government of India. 

The state government, Tribal Hohos, Church or other stakeholders have never been part of the negotiations and, therefore, they cannot be made to sign or be held accountable. If required, they may be present solely as witness. This is our viewpoint. 

2. Going by past record, the Government of India may insist on a ‘Memorandum of Settlement’ as was done with the Assam Accord (1985) and Mizoram Accord (1986). The Naga political issue or signing of a Naga Accord cannot be equated with a ‘memorandum’.

And the fact that many of the substantive issue/s has been reserved for future negotiation, the proposed Naga peace accord cannot be treated as a final ‘settlement’. By all account it is ‘interim’ in nature.  The offer of the Government of India to take up all unresolved issues through ‘democratic process’ is a welcomed approach, but a vague commitment as it is like giving a cheque without any signature, date or amount. 

Delhi has no answer why past commitments have still not been fulfilled. Nagas cannot be fooled all the time. 

Drawing lessons from past experiences of Indo-Naga negotiations and the failure to meet commitments, Naga negotiators must demand written guarantees to facilitate all ‘unresolved issues’. 

This should be done through a sustained and continuous political engagement within a reasonable timeframe and to hold the Government of India accountable.

3. Our concern, already highlighted, is downgrading the Naga issue from a political one to a law and order issue. After many years of the bureaucracy and security establishment handling the peace process, a mutually agreed framework/position for an agreement is now in place. 

It is now for the political leadership to take the lead in concluding the present talks on the Naga issue and not let it be held hostage to the security and military establishment. 

The Indian political leadership  is aware that ‘a unique’, ‘out-of-the-box’ solution and ‘some special arrangement’ would have to be made for the Nagas. 

The Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs—2019 and its strong recommendation that the Government of India “should tread carefully on the issues sensitive to the Nagas and not let vested interests highjack the peace narrative”, must guide the political executive to conclude the present talks with an agreement at the earliest. 

4. The present stalemate involving the Government of India and the Naga negotiators over the latter’s demand for a separate flag and constitution requires courage, vision and statesmanship of Indian leaders. 

The peace process, spanning more than two decades, has been successful because both sides exhibited a give and take approach. In the course, we believe that Nagas have respected India’s problems and position on many counts, including her security need. 

India should likewise reciprocate Naga aspirations as this is the only way forward towards an honourable accord. We believe a Naga flag or constitution is not a threat to India and should be part of the peace accord. This will guarantee long term peace, stability and security in the region.

5. Since August 2019, The Naga Rising has been appealing to one and all on the need to seek convergence of the parallel talks for an early conclusion.

Early on The Naga Rising had proposed to the Prime Minister to appoint a Group of Naga Interlocutors to mediate between the different Naga warring groups that would facilitate convergence and conclusion of the talks.

To ensure a smooth and peaceful transfer of power and competencies, The Naga Rising also suggested the need for a power and responsibility sharing arrangement among the Naga Political Groups. 

The Naga Rising has been consistent in its appeal to Naga elders, tribal hohos, civil society and the church to explore innovative ideas to address the differences and divisions between the Naga negotiating parties.

Conclusion: The Naga Rising believes that the above points need to be the focus if the peace process were to see the next stage of concluding the present negotiations. 

The Naga Rising has not given up hope yet. Prayer of repent and wisdom from God can lead us forward. We believe that Nagas can rise up and rebuild our future if there is unity of purpose. 

The Naga Rising

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