Guwahati: The ongoing Naga talks with National Socialist Council of Nagalim–Issak and Muivah (NSCN-IM) and Naga national political groups have succeeded in creating a consensus on a majority of the contentious issues, but now the ball is in the court of political leaders who are yet to approve the agreement reached in talks before signing the peace accord.
Admitting that delay in taking a call to resolve the political issues was creating some restiveness in Naga civil society as well as armed rebel group, security sources told this newspaper that it would be a serious mistake of political leadership to underestimate the impact of the NSCN (IM) and Naga national political groups on the Northeast insurgency scenario.
“They may be dormant for quite some time, but still have the capabilities to strike back,” said authoritative security sources in the Union ministry of home affairs while pointing out that there have been two landmarks of Northeast insurgency scenario. First was July 25, 1997, when NSCN (IM) entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Union government and second, August 3, 2015, the day NSCN (IM) signed a framework agreement with the government to pave the way for a solution to the vexed Naga political issue.
It is not just an NSCN (IM). In fact, the government of India through its interlocutor R.N. Ravi has succeeded in bringing all the stakeholders, including Naga civil society, Naga elected legislators on board. Even non-Naga stakeholders in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh have also been taken on board through multiple consultations.
It is significant that NSCN had role in all sub-nationalist or ethno-nationalist movements of northeast. It played role in arming them, in giving them that orientation, to resort to violence as a resort to fulfill their ethno-nationalistic aspirations. Whether it is Assam, Meghalaya or Tripura, all over, it was the Naga nationalist movement that was acting a guiding force.
Equating the changing scenario with aforesaid two landmarks, security sources said that in 1997-98, the average death toll in northeast insurgency-related incident was in between 1,900 and 2,000. It came down to 900 in 2000. With signing of the framework agreement in 2015, the toll in Northeast insurgency-related violence came down to 400 in 2016 and 70 in 2017.
Pointing out that NSCN which was considered the mother of Northeast insurgency has not only started distancing itself from all sub-nationalist or ethno-nationalist movements of northeast, security sources said that it also had a cascading impact over the morale of the leaders of such movements.
Admitting that change started soon after the government gave due recognition to the “unique history” of the Naga people, security sources said that when the history of Naga is defined, it refers to the British Instrument of Accession. When all the princely states of Northeast and India as well had signed the Instrument of Accession, it was the Naga people who did not sign it, he added.
The Naga groups have started dissociating themselves with other ethno-nationalist movements of the region on the pretext of their “unique history” to which the government has also recognised, security sources pointed out.
It is significant that the Centre in principal has also agreed to create two autonomous councils in Arunachal Pradesh and one in Manipur in the process of final settlement of the ongoing Naga peace talks.
Indicating that Prime Minister’s envoy for Naga talks Mr. Ravi has succeeded in creating a consensus between the Centre and Naga groups almost on all the issues, security sources said that the Central government is of view that all the stakeholders should be taken on board before signing the accord.
Pointing out that some external forces from China were taking keen interest in the Naga peace process, security sources said that Chinese agencies which have very strong connections with the Northeast insurgent groups operating from Myanmar have been trying hard to provoke both — Naga and non-Naga groups — into making provocative statements. However, security sources said that Naga peace talks have crossed over all these hurdles with the Khaplang faction of NSCN also joining the process.