Dec 03, 2009

Nagalim: Peace Process Reaches Crucial Stage

Active ImageMeetings are taking place this week between Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim to discuss the Centre's proposals. The Republic of Nagalim has ruled out immediate acceptance of these suggestions, while India has refused to accept physical integration of Naga contiguous areas

The peace process between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has reached the crucial stage as the NSCN prepares to sit across the negotiation table with New Delhi's emissaries to discuss the Centre's proposals.

Vikiye Sumi, Kilonser (minister) for Information & Publicity of the Government of the People's Republic of Nagalim ruled out immediate acceptance of the Government of India's proposals as the latter has ruled out physical integration of Naga contiguous areas. "Nothing wrong to check into the proposals of the Government of India," Sumi said. He said NSCN would not easily accept the proposals of the Centre without analyzing the nitty-gritty in the proposals.

The NSCN kilonser said they cannot completely sell out the rights of the Naga people by accepting the whole contents of New Delhi's proposal. "Let's see what kind of proposals they have made," the NSCN spokesman said.

The NSCN has categorically stated that without the integration of Naga areas there would be no honourable and acceptable solution to the nearly 70 years old Naga political imbroglio with New Delhi.

Asked whether the Naga peace process could continue with the issue of Naga integration, the NSCN spokesman said first they have to see the proposals of the Central Government. "They were supposed to invite us this month for the talks," he said adding that talks would be held in December.

He said the Tatar Hoho (Naga Parliament) has endorsed the collective leadership (Isak and Muivah) of the NSCN to discuss the Naga issues with the New Delhi leaders and any outcome of their discussions would be deliberated back home by the tatar hoho. "They have to send back the discussions with the government of India to the home front," Sumi said.

On the venue of the next round of talk, the NSCN kilonser said it can be anywhere, but according to the agreement prior to the truce in 1997, talks were to be held in third country but with the strong assurance from the Centre to expedite the Naga peace process the collective leadership of the NSCN had agreed to the request of Indian policymakers to hold talks even in India. He said venue of the negotiation does not matter much at this juncture but the crux of the issue is what type of proposals the Centre would place before the NSCN leaders.

With the Naga peace process reaching the crucial and critical stage, the Nagaland State Assembly on November 27 has passed a resolution to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee to facilitate the peace process. "We appeal to the negotiating parties of the political dialogue to expedite the political process and bring early resolution through a negotiated settlement which is honourable and acceptable to the Naga people," the resolution stated.

G K Pillai, Union Home Secretary said proposals of the Centre does not contain the economic package but broad based package.

The NSCN, on the other hand, said they have not accepted the importance of the Indian Constitution to form the basis for the Naga solution and that no autonomy of any kind was also discussed or understanding reached. "For the Nagas, talks between the Government of India and the NSCN signify two entities. It is a talk between two people at the Prime Ministerial level", the NSCN said.

The Naga outfit said the talk is also without condition, which means outside the parameter of the Indian constitution, and talks in third countries which implies involvement of a third party that hosts and facilitates the talks.

"The recognition of the unique history and situation of the Nagas by the Government of India means the Nagas are not part of the Union of India and the situation in Nagalim is political, not that of law and order under the Indian constitution. Ceasefire area coverage without territorial limit as affirmed by the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee in Osaka, Japan stating that 'wherever there is fighting, there is ceasefire," the NSCN said.

The NSCN has already submitted its 31-point charter of proposals to the Centre followed by another proposals.

The group said it looks for a solution that recognizes the identity and rights of the Nagas and safeguards the security of India.

But Union Home Secretary Pillai said that in the present circumstances in the Northeast the 'physical integration of Naga inhabited areas' is not possible. He, however, said the Centre can explore possibility of Nagas in the areas of culture, social practices, and customary laws through some mechanism. He also said the Union Government would try to be accommodative as much as possible in terms of the proposed package which will be open for negotiation and discussion as the Constitution of India is amendable. His statement has come after his meeting with cross sections of Naga people from Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

During his visit to Kohima on October 12 & 13 last Pillai said amendment of the Constitution of India is definitely a part of the package the Centre will make in the offer. He said Centre will try to be accommodative as much as possible in terms of the proposed package which will be open for negotiation and discussion. He said the proposed peace package by the Centre to the NSCN was an offer and not a conditional package.

Chief Minister's office when contacted about the latest proposed talk, said they have not received any information about such meeting but added that the State Government is not a party to the negotiation. But the CMO appreciated the sincerity of the Government of India and the NSCN to hammer out honourable and acceptable solution to the problem.

Major General Phungthing Shimrang, convenor of the ceasefire monitoring cell of the NSCN said: "Let us see how they will come". The talks are expected in the second week of December.

NSCN chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Thiungaleng Muivah are expected to come to New Delhi soon to discuss the Centre's proposals. They would also be joined by top leaders of the group.