The Naga deal: An accord whose time had come

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 04, 2015 03:23 IST

This is one major political move that the government kept under wraps for a quite a while.

It was late in the evening when the historic Naga peace deal was signed, bringing the long-neglected Northeast closer to the mainstream. The pact signed by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has the potential to restore a sense of normalcy to the fractious region, which has seen strife and discord for over six decades.

This resolution of a problem is a triumph for the Narendra Modi government and will provide some relief to the people of the region who have been caught between the State, security forces and the insurgents.

The Northeast has been India’s Achilles heel because of the troubled border with China that some of the states share.

Read: Naga accord a 'framework agreement', Nagalim issue set aside

The Chinese have not hesitated from claiming some of India’s northeastern territories as their own and are suspected to have harboured or financed insurgents from the area, something Beijing has always denied.

Thanks to aggressive diplomacy, India has blunted the edge of insurgency from Myanmar and Bangladeshi soil.

The leaders of the NSCN, Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu, first signed the ceasefire with the IK Gujral government in 1997 and started negotiations.

Since then the peace talks have gone on now and again, but nothing conclusive was ever reached. India has all along refused to talk to the Khaplang faction, preferring instead to engage Mr Muivah. This pushed Khaplang to renege on the ceasefire which was in existence with him and set up a rebel coalition.

Read: Treaty with NSCN(IM): Nagaland's neighbours wary of contents

The huge attack on an army convoy in Manipur in June was masterminded by Khaplang, which makes the fact that he is out of the picture in this deal, worrying. Khaplang is not one to be sidelined and this is the next problem the Centre will have to grapple with.

The real test now comes in making this pact work on the ground.

It is now clear that the millions pumped into the region have done little to win friends and influence people.

The first task should be to invest in infrastructure and job creation in the state so as to give people a greater stake in peace. The accord could be a template for similar ones with other insurgency-affected states in the region.

Read: A history of accords but peace has eluded Nagaland

It is to the government’s credit that it did not raise unrealistic expectations before the deal was actually signed. This too should be the manner in which future agreements are worked out, away from the spotlight.

The accord is one of the major achievements of this government and will blunt the edge of criticism that this government has not walked the talk on many crucial issues.

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