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Naga peace talks achieve breakthrough in deadlock as NSCN (IM) softens stand, agreement to be finalised after consultations

31st October was the last date to conclude the peace talks, with union government making it clear that the date would not be extended

On the last date to conclude the Naga peace talks, the deadlock between NSCN and the government was finally broken, igniting a ray of hope for peace to return to the North-Eastern state. After a series of meetings among centre’s interlocutor and Nagaland governor R N Ravi, NSCN(IM) and 7 Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) was concluded today evening in New Delhi, it is reported that they had arrived at a mutual understanding.

Although no official announcement has been made yet, it is learnt that NSCN has agreed to keep the demand for a separate constitution and a greater Nagalim on hold for the time being, while the government has approved a separate flag for the state with some conditions.

According to sources, Nagas will be allowed to use their ‘flag’ in Naga Hohos, sports and special events of Nagas. Although at present the flag will not be allowed in official government functions, office premises, it will be approved later, sources say.

An NSCN (IM) member told media that they have agreed to finalise the agreement. The talks on the official flag and constitution will be continued later.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio confirmed the successful conclusion of the talks. He said that the peace talks have made a historic breakthrough.

“It is a historic moment and an occasion of great joy for all Nagas and the nation as a whole. Peace will now pave the way for genuine progress and true nation-building,” the chief minister posted on Twitter.

Nagaland’s leader of the opposition and NPF leader TR Zeliang also tweeted congratulating PM Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah for having the resoluteness to solve the issue. He congratulated the parties involved in the talks for arriving at a mutual understanding.

“The dream and desire of the Naga people for permanent peace and tranquility in our land will soon become a reality after positive outcome of today’s meeting,” he said.

31st October was the last date to conclude the peace talks, with union government making it clear that the date would not be extended. With NSCN remaining adamant on their demands, it was speculated that the government will go ahead with an agreement with other Naga organisations without NSCN (IM). But that would have meant that the state could have gone back to violence. With NSCN (IM) agreeing to be part of the agreement, it is a major success of the peace talks.

Contrary to NSCN (IM), the other armed separatist organisations, which are called Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) together, have been more flexible in their demands. These groups, which have signed ceasefire agreement with the government, are, NSCN (Kitovi Zhimomi), the Naga Nationalist Council, the Federal Government of Nagaland, the NSCN (Reformation), the National Peoples Government of Nagaland (Non-Accord), the Government Democratic Republic of Nagaland (Non-Accord) and the NSCN (Khaplang). They had agreed to drop the demand for separate flag and constitution.

Although the talks concluded today, it will take some time to finalise the agreement. It is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make a finance announcement about the resolutions adopted in December when he visits Nagaland to attend the Hornbill festival. The cultural event is scheduled to take place between December 1 and 10 in Kohima and Dimapur.

In the meanwhile, the home ministry has issued a statement saying that lots of rumours and misinformation is being spread in media including social media that final Naga settlement has been arrived at and will be announced soon, which is creating anxiety and concern in some parts of the country. “It is clarified that before any settlement is arrived at with Naga groups, all stakeholders including States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be duly consulted and their concerns will be taken into consideration,” the statement said.

The government had issued the statement after protests had erupted in Manipur asserting that any compromise with the territorial integrity of Manipur will not be accepted. One of the demands of NSCN (IM) is the formation of a Greater Nagalim, comprising Naga inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur apart from the entire Nagaland. People and governments of these three states strongly oppose the proposal, and the government of India has also not accepted that demand.

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