Friday, Sep 24, 2021 06:45 [IST]

Last Update: Friday, Sep 24, 2021 01:04 [IST]

Finding a sustainable solution

What could be called a rare happening, Nagaland is set to see an all-party government — United Democratic Alliance (UDA) — in a bid to conclude the revived peace talk, set in process in 2015. The approval for the all-party government is a symbolic gesture to resolve the 'longest running' insurgency in India's history. The leading opposition party — Naga People's Front (NPF) — had initiated the formation of an all-party government on July 19. The ruling coalition, People's Democratic Alliance (PDA) — consisting of the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the BJP and two Independents — after its initial reservation around losing political ground in the state, yielded to the request. Two months later, it came up with a five-point resolution for facilitating Naga Peace Talks. The Peace Talk process is known to be backed by the Central leadership. In fact, the Centre has been proactive in resolving the issue. Just a short while after the NDA's coming to power, in August 2014 itself, the Centre appointed the IB officer — RN Ravi — as the interlocutor for the peace talks with Nagas. A year later, the Prime Minister restarted the negotiations with one of the largest political outfits of the Naga community — NSCN-IM. This was followed by the inclusion of seven other Naga outfits. The 2015 Naga Peace Talk came after 18 years of the 1997 ceasefire between the government and NSCN-IM wherein the government had decided to halt counter-insurgency attacks and NSCN promised to cease its armed rebels. The history of insurgency of the clusters of Naga tribes dates back to British rule in India. The sentiment of resistance and struggle for independence started among the Naga tribes only after around a hundred years of suppression at the hand of Britishers since the annexation of the region in the late 1820s. Their quest for 'independence' continues today even after 74 years of Indian independence. The Nagas earnestly tried to give momentum to the idea of an independent Naga state under the umbrella of the Naga National Council (NNC) in 1947 itself; though unsuccessfully. Peace Talks with the government first started in 1975 wherein Naga National Council agreed to abandon armed insurgency. This however did not sound well with certain factions of the Council. Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S S Khaplang floated the new organisation — NSCN which would further undergo a split into NSCN-IM (under Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah) and NSCN-K (under SS Khaplang). It can be said that a strong government at the Centre could be instrumental in resolving the deep-rooted contention. The core point of contention between NSCN-IM and the government is on the insurgents' demand for an independent Naga state — Greater Nagalim. Nagas are a scattered tribe and NSCN-IM had claimed around 1,20,000 sq km of territorial space expanding across the Northeast and Myanmar. Conceding to this demand could be highly unrealistic as the claimed territory is much larger than the actual expanse of the state. The government, however, is not willing to alter the boundaries of the state. It is rather known to have proposed the establishment of some sort of institutionalised bodies representing Nagas in the Northeast, and the removal of AFSPA. Another major area of contention is the NSCN-IM demand for a separate flag and Constitution. The outfit is adamant upon this demand but it seems highly unlikely that the government will concede to it. The coming together of Opposition and ruling parties in the state may have some positive outcomes in resolving the longstanding issue, but a government without opposition may prove contrary to the interests of people as the most crucial check on the functioning of the government will be removed. It would have been a more viable and balanced move if the opposition and proposition would have formed a consensus on the issue of Naga Peace Talks, rather than forming a coalition. Moreover, it is not certain that the formation of UDA will resolve the issue. It would be interesting to see if a consensus between the NSCN-IM and the government on contentious issues is reached in the near future or not. The government also has an option to go ahead for the conclusion of peace talks with other Naga outfits if the largest outfit — NSCN-IM — doesn't budge from its excessive demands. This option would, however, further aggravate the problem rather than resolving it. Though the armed rebellion of the violent outfits should be strongly condemned, their sentiment for independence should be respected, rather than being side-lined, in any circumstance. Let the solution come late but sound.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi