Centre set to resume Naga peace talks
New Delhi, Aug 22
After a hiatus, the Union Government is all set to resume Naga peace talks. An informal meeting was held in New Delhi between the Union Government’s interlocutor for the talks, AK Mishra and National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah supremo Thuingaleng Muivah on August 21 to take the talks forward.
Though NSCN-IM sources told The Wire that the date for the informal talks are yet to be finalised, a Hindustan Times report categorically said the talks are to resume from August 26.
Though there has been a deadlock in these talks between NSCN-IM and the Union Government for quite some time over the NSCN-IM’s refusal to compromise on its demand for a separate constitution and recognition of the NSCN-IM’s flag, the Hindustan Times report, quoting NSCN-IM sources, said the meetings between the two sides had to be suspended as Mishra, who is also an advisor (Northeast) to the Ministry of Home Affairs, had to direct his attention to the Manipur ethnic conflict.
The report said, “…[T]he two sides had made significant progress, particularly on NSCN-IM’s demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution.”
On August 14 this year, the day the NSCN-IM celebrates as its Independence Day, Muivah had said, “The flag and constitution are naturally inseparable from the sovereignty of a people. It is universally accepted truth that flag and constitution are constituent parts of sovereignty. There is no ambiguity about it.
The Indian leaders understand it too. They must take the stand to speak the truth.”
Significantly, the Naga talks are being formally resumed by the Union Government at a time when the community’s neighbours in the Manipur hills, the Kukis, have begun demanding a “separate administration” from the Union Government.
In the last peace talks with armed Kuki groups – led by Mishra for the Union Home Ministry on August 17 – a proposed map for a a Kuki State was submitted.
As reported by The Wire, this was a significant move by Kuki political leaders. However, the map includes certain areas of Manipur which the Nagas consider as their own traditional land.
These claims over land are increasingly leading to growing division between the two communities in the strife-torn State, with the United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of the Nagas in Manipur, issuing a fresh statement on the matter this August 21, criticising Kukis.
Warning the Kukis that “Nagas will not remain mute over the issue”, the UNC statement said, the “blatant lies, lop-sided history and fabricated information contained in every statement and memorandum of the Kuki-Zo community tantamount to distortion of Naga history and insult to the Naga people”.
The open opposition to the Kuki move by UNC is noteworthy as the body is seen to be extremely close to the NSCN-IM. These areas in Manipur are also part of the NSCN-IM’s “greater Nagalim” demand. Muivah’s August 14 speech had underlined that demand when he said, “On the issue of integration of all Naga areas, the Government of India has officially acknowledged that it is the legitimate right of the Nagas and therefore, it shall be finalised accordingly.”
The Naga talks are being held within the ambit of the Framework Agreement signed by the Narendra Modi Government with NSCN-IM in August 2015. Since then, though multiple rounds of talks have taken place between the two sides both in New Delhi and in Nagaland and with a number of Union Government-appointed interlocutors and also with some other Naga armed groups, not much headway has been made so far. The Wire