Big boost for pro-agreement Naga groups as senior leaders quit NSCN-IM for a peace deal
Senior functionaries of the Naga-rebels group, Nationalist Social Council of Nagaland, Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) joined the rival grouping on Friday favouring early resolution of more than six decades-long Naga insurgency and slammed the Muivah faction’s continued demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution that led to a stalemate in talks with the Centre on Thursday.
Hukavi Yeputhomi--who was part of the NSCN-IM team which held talks with the Centre in New Delhi on Thursday -- joined the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) with 17 others and said an agreement with the Centre was the need of the hour for the Naga people.
“We are convinced that the interest, pursuit and potential of future Naga generations must not be jeopardized by unresolved symbolic issues when negotiating parties have long come to terms that sovereignty and integration were not possible at the present time,” said a release by Yeputhomi and others.
A consortium of the seven rebel groups other than the NSCN-IM, NNPGs, are in talks with the Centre since 2017 and willing for a final agreement without insisting on a separate flag and constitution. Yeputhomi said it will be done without “compromising” on Naga history and identity.
NSCN-IM, which signed a framework agreement with New Delhi in August 2015, has been negotiating since 1997 and doesn’t recognise parallel talks with NNPGs.
Centre has rejected the NSCN-IM’s demand for a separate flag and constitution and the negotiations are now likely to go past the October-31 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however the defections are likely to weaken and isolate NSCN’s stance. Hukavi said it was time to be pragmatic and contentious issues could be raised democratically later.
“The geo-political situation demand the Nagas be pragmatic at this juncture of our struggle. We agree that unresolved contentious issues must be pursued earnestly post solution, politically and democratically,” said Yeputhomi.
He accused NSCN-IM chairman Q Tuccu and the outfit’s ‘Ato Kilsner’ (Prime Minister) T Muivah of being insensitive to the Naga people’s plea for an “honourable and acceptable solution”.
The Naga insurgency began in the 1950s with the demand for a separate Nagaland, but over the years the demand for sovereignty gave way to demand for a greater-Nagaland encompassing Nag-inhabited areas of Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and issues like a separate flag and constitution.