From Ceasefire to the Peace Accord – Nivibo Y. Sumi, Assistant Professor Sociology

With 14th August celebrated as Naga Independence day, all Naga eyes and ears will probably be on NSCN (IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah for further information on the details of the recently signed peace accord. Some have welcomed it, while some see it as a conspiracy. There are a lot of questions and also a lot of hope on the Peace Accord signed between the India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah). We take a closer look at what has transpired till date.
From Ceasefire to the Peace Accord
         Nivibo Y. Sumi, Assistant Professor Tetso College Dimapur,  Nagaland
The peace accord signed between the Indian government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) on August 3, stunned most of the Nagas as it came earlier than anticipated. Government’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks R N Ravi and NSCN (I-M) said the ill health of outfit’s president Isak Chishi Swu hastened the process. Isak is receiving treatment in a hospital in Delhi for kidney failure and apparently signed the agreement while on a wheelchair. 

It was also reported that NSCN (IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, who signed the framework agreement with the Centre, made a special gesture to his long-standing friend Isak whose ambition is to bring honourable peace to the Nagas.

However, the ambiguous nature of this agreement as a “preamble” between the government and NSCN(I-M) to press for a final solution has made many Nagas apprehensive.

They are of the view that by signing this agreement, the NSCN (I-M) has placed the trust and confidence of the Nagas in the hands of the Central government while the Naga people, civil societies and the Legislative Assembly is left wandering in the dark on its contents. The people are hoping that the NSCN (I-M) will not betray the Naga people on their promise of a “honourable” and “acceptable” solution.

The government indicated its intent to be more accommodative towards the demands of the NSCN (I-M). This is evident from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech during the signing of the accord. Modi said only when the two sides “seek to understand the concerns and try to address aspirations,” a lasting solution in Nagaland can be achieved.

Regrettably, even Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang and the lone Lok Sabha MP from the state Neiphiu Rio did not know the contents of the “framework agreement”. Luckily for Modi, the duo heartily welcomed the peace accord. This brings us to the question of inclusiveness and the will of the Nagas and whether the “final solution” will be applicable for all Nagas across the board. However, this hurriedly signed accord has slightly fragmented the “Nagas of Nagaland” and the “Nagas of Manipur”.

Through the accord Modi may have sent a strong signal to China, but this could also have fallouts with the other Northeastern states. Far from the positivity that is reported and speculated in the Indian media, the prospect of integrating Naga-inhabited areas  – the idea of merging parts of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam – with the present state of Nagaland is enough to create tensions resulting in law and order problem.

Since the NSCN (I-M) has a strong influence in many Northeastern states, the signing of the peace accord could substantially lower the menace of insurgency in the region.

To make use of this peace accord to their advantage, the Centre might attempt to isolate another NSCN faction, NSCN (Khaplang). This will further divide an already divided Naga house – the Eastern Naga, Nagas of Manipur and Nagas of Nagaland. 

In the light of this problem, the objective of “honourable” and “acceptable” Naga solution is not achievable. Not long after the government and NSCN (I-M) signed the accord, different Naga political groups expressed their views and their stance.

Integration and sovereignty

The question of integration and sovereignty still looms large in the minds of the Nagas and they are still uneasy about the contents of the agreement being kept in the dark. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, MP from Arunachal Pradesh, said “Nothing that will hurt the interest of neighbouring states is included in the accord. The Centre will not bypass the sentiments of neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh”.

However, it is now somehow acknowledged that the NSCN (I-M) has accepted that while the integration of contiguous Naga areas would remain on the negotiating table, the time for actual integration may not be opportune at present.

The drawback of this peace accord is the lack of transparency with regard to the framework of the deal. This indeed is going to be critically analysed and debated by the real stakeholders, the general Naga populace and of course, by the other political factions, and it may not go all too well with all of them since this accord will certainly not include Nagas of Arunachal and Nagas under Burmese occupation. The question is: “What will be the alternative so that our Naga family will remain united?,” because many Nagas are of the view that “nothing short of integration and sovereignty is a betrayal to the Nagas”.

Modi admitted that the reason why vexed Naga political issue has existed for too long is because of a lack of understanding. Though a solution still appears far away, a good understanding of Naga history will ultimately narrow down to the question of accommodation and inclusion of the issues. The accord has certainly raised eyebrows and it has taught the Nagas that a meaningful outcome can be achieved only through a dialogue based on what is achievable and acceptable to every Naga. 

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”.

Leave a Reply