Twenty years after they first met Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in Paris and agreed to talk with Government of India, Issac Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, leaders of the NSCN faction named after them, have arrived at a framework pact that is likely to end Asia’s longest running insurgency very soon.
Although neither the government nor the NSCN(IM) has revealed the roadmap that will finalise the details of the accord, at least three aspects of the 20-year long journey of the latest phase of Naga peace process stand out: One, the NSCN(IM), has given up its original demand of sovereignty; two, it has reconciled to the fact that redrawing the map of north-east to integrate all Naga-dominated and Naga-inhabited areas spread across three states of the region—Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam—besides of course Nagaland, is off the table and; three, the civil society’s desire for lasting peace has forced even as organised and powerful insurgent group as the NSCN-IM to agree to a pact on terms that it may have rejected outright even a decade ago.
According to RN Ravi, the centre’s interlocutor for the Naga talks, the negotiations in the last one year since he took over in August 2014, have been as broad-based as they can be. ““This was not a factional approach. I took care to consult a broad spectrum of Naga civil society and those in the Imphal Valley besides talking to the collective leadership of the NSCN-IM. Therefore, this agreement should not be seen as a pact merely between the NSCN-IM and the Government of India but between the Naga people and the Centre,” Ravi told this writer earlier this week.
Representatives of civil society and NGOs confirmed the approach. Organisations like the Naga Ho Ho, the Naga Mothers Association (NMA), the Naga Students Federation (NSF), the Eastern Naga Students Federation (ENSF), Eastern Naga Peoples Organisation (ENPO), the Gaon Burrah Federation (GBF), Federation for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) and the United Naga Council (UNC), Manipur, among others, held extensive discussions with Ravi over the past 10 months. They are still meeting him in batches of 10 to 20 this week as a follow up to the 3 August signing of the agreement.
Moreover, the Centre’s interlocutor took care to meet and brief Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh more than a dozen times to keep him abreast of the progress and contours of the talks, giving lie to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s charge that Chief Ministers of Congress ruled states were not kept in the picture.
Over the next two-three months, the nuts and bolts of the accord will be put in place even as a delegation of civil society representatives travels to Myanmar to try and get the Khaplang faction of the NSCN to join the peace process. If all goes well, by the end of 2015, the Naga insurgency, which began in the early 1950s, will be a thing of the past.
National Security Analyst. Media Trainer. Author