Centre signs peace agreement with Nagaland insurgent group: Home ministry

Updated on Sep 09, 2021 06:03 AM IST

The new ceasefire agreement is for a period of one year with effect from September 8, 2021. The agreement is subject to adherence to the existing ceasefire ground rules signed by the two sides.

Niki Sumi is a prime accused in the ambush on the Indian Army in Manipur which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers. (PTI)
Niki Sumi is a prime accused in the ambush on the Indian Army in Manipur which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers. (PTI)
ByAlice Yhoshü, Hindustan Times, Kohima

The Union government on Wednesday signed a fresh ceasefire pact with Niki Sumi-led Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) in New Delhi. The development is being seen as a boost to the ongoing Naga peace process for which the Centre is holding peace talks with NSCN (IM) and a conglomeration of seven Naga nationalist political groups (NNPGs).

The new ceasefire agreement is for a period of one year with effect from September 8, 2021. The agreement is subject to adherence to the existing ceasefire ground rules signed by the two sides.

The ceasefire agreement was signed by Union home ministry’s additional secretary (NE) Piyush Goyal on behalf of the central government while Nikato Pilot Sumi and Abel Zingru Thuer signed for NSCN (K) Niki group.

A home ministry statement said the ceasefire agreement is a significant step in Naga peace process and making the Northeast insurgency-free. “In fulfilling the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘Insurgency free and prosperous North East’ and in a significant boost to Naga peace process, under the guidance of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the government of India enters into a ceasefire agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (K) Niki Group,” the ministry said in the statement .

The NSCN (K) in 2015 unilaterally abrogated its 2001 ceasefire agreement with the Centre, after which the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) declared the group as a banned outfit and an “unlawful association”.

The chairman of Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG Nagaland), Lt. Gen. (retired) AS Bedi, was also present during the signing of the pact on Wednesday.

While speculations are rife over the Niki-led NSCN (K)’s move calling truce with the Centre, people aware of the matter, said the group was firm to remain a separate entity. However, the onus is on the Centre to decide whether it would ask the NSCN (K) to either join hands with the NSCN (IM) or the NNPGs in the peace talks, or to start fresh talks with the group.

The latter would mean the Centre get into negotiations with the group and perhaps even sign another accord, which might prolong the protracted Naga political issue.

However, the coming of the Niki-led NSCN (K) into ceasefire with the Centre is also being seen as a positive move for the Naga peace process as the Naga civil society has been appealing to all the political groups to come together and thrash out issues so as to bring the long-pending Naga political issue to an honourable and an acceptable settlement.

The development comes days after a tripartite agreement among five insurgent groups of Assam, the Centre and the state government was signed to end years of violence in the Karbi Anglong region.

After abrogating the ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 2015, the NSCN (K) led by its leader SS Khaplang went on to establish a strong base in neighbouring Myanmar. However, Khaplang died of a cardiac arrest at Taga in 2017 in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region under Naga self-administered zone. Subsequently, the group, which was taken over by Khaplang’s relative Yung Aung split into different factions, of which the Niki-led NSCN (K) is one.

Niki Sumi is a prime accused in the ambush on the Indian Army in Manipur which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers and charges have not been dropped yet. The National Investigation Agency had announced a reward of 10 lakh on Niki Sumi.

The NSCN (K) operates to establish a sovereign state bringing all Naga inhabited areas of Myanmar and India under one administrative setup.

The Centre has been in a ceasefire agreement with the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN (NSCN-IM) since 1997 and had signed the professed historic “Framework Agreement” in August 2015, while a conglomeration of seven different Naga national political groups (NNPGs) was also involved in separate talks with the Centre since 2017 and had arrived at an “agreed position” in 2017. Another breakaway faction of the NSCN (K) led by Khango Konyak is already in peace talks with the Centre under the aegis of the NNPGs.

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