Anxiety and anticipation are building up in Nagaland and adjoining states over an imminent ‘solution’ to the vexed issue of Naga nationalism.
New Delhi has indicated that the solution would be reached before the end of October and clarified that there will neither be a separate flag nor a separate constitution as demanded by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah).
A meeting is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Thursday this week and Nagaland Governor RN Ravi indicated that the settlement was expected by October 31. “Endless negotiation under the shadow of the gun”, he had stated on October 18, was not acceptable.
Leave of security personnel has been cancelled and all officials have been asked to remain in their posts in anticipation of the settlement. Firecrackers have been banned on the ground of protecting the environment and a notification this week warned Government servants against criticising Government policies on social media or to the Press.
Sources in the Raj Bhavan maintain that the Governor has held talks with all 14 Naga tribes, all non-Naga tribes, Church leaders and the Naga Tribes Council among other organisations. The Governor is said to have read out the framework agreement reached in 2015 and accused NSCN(IM) of misleading Nagas on the question of the flag and Constitution. There was no such reference in the framework agreement, he claimed.
Nagas, the Raj Bhavan held, wanted a peaceful settlement and the Government had decided to give them a patient hearing and grant the Nagas greater autonomy.
While NSCN (IM) has been demanding a greater Nagalim and parts of Manipur to be added to the Nagalim, it has faced resistance in the past.
The framework agreement in 2015 was signed by RN Ravi on behalf of the Government of India with NSCN(I-M) leaders Isak Chishi Swu and Th. Muivah in the presence of the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the then Chief of the Army Staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag and other NSCN(I-M) leaders. The Government had then described it as ‘historic’.
Another agreement was signed with the Working Committee of seven Naga National Political Groups on November 17, 2017, on the political parameters of the settlement. The interlocutor, now also the Nagaland Governor, Ravi had said that agreement had been reached on all issues barring the “symbolic issues” of the Naga flag and the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the United Naga Council (UNC) called upon Nagas to engage in intense prayers so that ‘God's wisdom prevailed’. The UNC appealed to Churches, towns and villages under its jurisdiction to hold prayers the "smooth landing of the solution" .
The settlement of the Naga political issue will bring about peace in South East Asia, it hoped. The Council of Nagalim Churches (CNC) also called for ‘fasting prayers’
"Considering the perilous situation that we are confronted with, wherein, our Nation's history, our God-given identity and the fate of our people are being endangered by forces within and without, the CNC believes that it is the bounden duty of every Church to ceaselessly and fervently pray to God for his intervention, protection and deliverance," the CNC statement said this week.
Meanwhile, the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland lashed out at the opposition NPF for alleging that it has been “instigating Nagas” to accept a solution without the Naga flag and constitution.
In a statement, the ruling party claimed that neither the party nor the state government was parties to the ongoing dialogue. The negotiation had been left to the negotiating parties for working out a “mutually acceptable formula, that is honourable, democratic and long-lasting.”