The efforts of a delegation of Naga legislators and the poor health of NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chisi Swu prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give the go-ahead for the inking of a framework agreement with the rebel leadership, Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang has said.
“Even I was taken unawares 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 PM on July 17, the PM was inspired that everyone in Nagaland, regardless of party affiliation, was coming together to seek a resolution to the vexed Naga issue, Zeliang said.
“This is what the PM told me on Friday,” he 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 deadlocked again.”
Modi had said in his speech during the accord-signing ceremony: “Given the importance of this initiative, I asked my office to supervise these talks; and I personally kept in touch with the progress.”
The government has signed a “framework agreement” with the NSCN-IM that is aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Naga insurgency that began nearly 60 years ago. Negotiations with the NSCN-IM had been going on for 17 years.
Zeliang met Modi on Friday for about 35 minutes. On Saturday, he met home minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Joint Intelligence Committee chief RN Ravi, the interlocutor for the talks with the Nagas.
“I told the PM that all other PMs before you had only talked about an accord with the Nagas, you have acted on it,” Zeliang said.
“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...for a fruitful conclusion. So this is just the first step.”
After August 15, Ravi will go to Nagaland and have broader consultations with all stakeholders, including civil society, the state government and other insurgent factions. After that, he will return to Delhi for further dialogue. A final agreement may take a few months.
Asked about apprehensions expressed by the chief ministers of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam about the possible integration of Naga-inhabited areas of these states as part of a final solution, Zeliang said: “They have every right to suspect a hidden agenda.
“But the final agreement won’t be signed without consultations with the three states.”