The efforts of a delegation from the state assembly and the illness of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) chairman Isak Chisi Swu prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give the go-ahead to the inking of an agreement with the NSCN-IM leadership, Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang said in an interview.
“Even I was taken unaware by the announcement of an accord with the NSCN-IM on August 3. Besides Isak Swu’s illness, when a 19-member all-party Nagaland state assembly delegation met the Prime Minister on July 17, he was ‘inspired’ that everyone in Nagaland, regardless of party affiliations, was coming together to seek a resolution on the vexed Naga issue. This is what the PM said to me on Friday,” Zeliang told Hindustan Times.
“As Swu’s condition was unpredictable, it was critical that the framework be signed in his lifetime, so that talks don’t get caught in a deadlock again,” he said.
In his speech during the accord-signing ceremony on August 3, PM Modi had said: “Given the importance of this initiative, I asked my office to supervise these talks; and I personally kept in touch with the progress.”
The Nagaland CM met Modi on Friday for about 35 minutes. On Saturday, Zeliang met Union home minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, and Naga talks interlocuter RN Ravi.
“I told the PM that all other Prime Ministers before you had only talked about an accord with the Nagas, you have acted on it,” Zeliang said.
The Naga issue has been festering for the last 60 years while negotiations with the NSCN-IM had been continuing for around 17 years.
“I was informed by the PM, home minister, Ravi, and Doval that this accord is an agreement of the general framework, which points at the direction in which the modalities will go, for a fruitful conclusion. So this is just the first step,” Zeliang said.
After August 15, Ravi will head to Nagaland for broader consultations with all stakeholders, including civil society, state government, and the other insurgent factions.
After that, he will go back to New Delhi for further dialogue. A final agreement may still take a few months.
Asked about the apprehension expressed by the three CMs of neighbouring states — Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam — Zeliang said: “They have every right to suspect a hidden agenda. But the final agreement will not be signed without consultations with the three states.”