Nagaland hopeful of positive outcome of peace talks


Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has claimed a “breakthrough” in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the state’s decades-old insurgency problem even through the Centre has asserted it is yet to conclude the talks and will consult all stakeholders before finalising any settlement.

The Union Home Ministry on Thursday had said that lot of rumours and misinformation is being spread that the final Naga settlement has been arrived at and will be announced soon.

“This is creating anxiety and concern in some parts of the country. It is clarified that before any settlement is arrived at with Naga groups, all stakeholders including states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be duly consulted and their concerns will be taken into consideration. No credence needs to be given to such rumours and incorrect information,” the MHA statement said.

The talks were convened in Delhi in a bid to iron out differences, particularly on the NSCN-IM’s demands for a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas, which have already been rejected by the Centre.

The central government has already rejected the NSCN-IM’s demand for unification of Naga inhabited areas — located in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The three northeastern states have also vehemently opposed it.

While the dialogue with the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) is said to be over, talks with the NSCN-IM, a major insurgent group in the Northeast, have centered on its demands for a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas.

Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and Opposition leader T R Zeliang appreciated that the negotiating parties agreeing to remain onboard for a final settlement.

Various Naga civil societies and NNPG, a conglomerate of seven organisations which is holding separate talks with the Centre, hoped that the final settlement would be achieved after thorough consultation with all stakeholders.

“It is a historic moment and an occasion of great joy for all Nagas and the nation as a whole. Peace will now pave the way for genuine progress and true nation-building,” Rio said in a tweet.

Extending deepest appreciation to the negotiating parties for the “historic breakthrough”, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Mod and Home Minister Amit Shah “for the political will and concern for the Naga people”.

He also congratulated the Centre’s interlocutor and Governor R N Ravi, NSCN (IM) and NNPG for their efforts and lauded the civil societies, mass based organisations, NGOs, churches and the Naga people for their support and prayers.

“We pray god almighty & look forward to a new era for the Naga people,” he said.

Patton said a “solution that respects our unique history, will bring a new and better dawn for the Naga future”.

Zeliang hoped that the dream and desire of the Naga people for permanent peace and tranquility in Nagaland would soon become a reality.

The Working Committee of NNPG also joined the bandwagon in appreciating the efforts of the union government and NSCN (IM).

In a statement it said the NNPG believes that the NSCN (IM) leadership has opted for peace and adopted a practical and realistic approach in arriving at a conclusion of negotiations by acceptance the reality the time.

A press release issued by its media cell said in the course of negotiations between NNPG and the union government, the latter had also endorsed the usage of Naga emblem/flag specifically for cultural identity within Naga homeland.

“The Naga flag is a political symbol and cannot be confined to socio-cultural activities. Therefore, together in one voice, Nagas would pursue it politically and democratically. The flag, since the dawn of Naga political consciousness, has ever been an expression of our political identity and aspirations,” it stated.

The Naga Mothers Association president Abei-ii Meru said “We were all praying for everyone to be on board.”

K Elu Ndang, general secretary of the apex body of tribal organisations in the state Naga Hoho, also hoped of a mutual understanding between the two negotiating parties.