Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday promised Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang on Friday that the Centre would not sign the final pact with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) without holding discussions with the neighbouring states.
Singh’s assurance came a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi lashed out at the Narendra Modi government for signing a pact with the NSCN-IM without consulting chief ministers of the neighbouring states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam.
Gandhi had called the absence of these consultations as an insult to the people of these states and a reflection of the Centre’s arrogance.
Singh moved into damage-control mode on Friday and reassured Zeliang that Nagaland’s neighbours, too, would be consulted before the final pact was signed.
The government has kept the details of the “framework agreement” — that Prime Minister Modi had described as historic on Monday — under wraps.
Singh is learnt to have told Zeliang that the government had made it clear to the NSCN-IM leadership that their main demand of integration of Naga-inhabited areas would not be met but these areas could get an institution on the lines of an autonomous district council.
The NSCN-IM had all along insisted on integration of Naga-dominated areas in the neighbouring states with Nagaland, a proposal that evoked strong reactions from its neighbours, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. All three states are opposed to this demand.
The NSCN-IM and the Centre had issued a joint statement in 2011 that acknowledged the two sides had narrowed their differences and were close to resolving the remaining differences for an honourable political settlement.
There were later reports that some kind of cultural integration of the Naga areas was being discussed that were denied by the Centre after protests in Manipur.