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Finally NSCN puts ‘the 2015 Framework Agreement’ in public domain

  • Category
    Polity
  • Published
    17th Aug, 2020
  • The NSCN-IM, one of the largest Naga groups, signed a framework agreement on August 3, 2015 to end the decades old issue.

Context

  • The NSCN-IM, one of the largest Naga groups, signed a framework agreement on August 3, 2015 to end the decades old issue.
  • The agreement has now finally come n the public domain

Background

  • The Naga quest for independence is one of the longest-running struggles in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Despite numerous attempts made in the past towards resolving the conflict, it continues to remain elusive on account of various fault lines.
  • The signing of a ‘Framework Agreement’ between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim–Issak and Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Government of India in August 2015 was one such attempt. 
  • However, the views of various stakeholders remain fragmented as the details of the agreement have not been disclosed in the public domain.
  • Though peace talks with NSCN-IM and other pro-talks rebel outfits (Naga National Political Groups-NNPGs) concluded in October, 2019 a formal deal to end the decades old Naga political problem is still awaited.

Analysis

Who are Nagas?

  • The Nagasare a tribal Indo-Mongoloid people who live in the Northeast region of India, the Himalayas, and Burma (Myanmar).
  • These hill people are estimated to number about 2.5 million (1.8 million in Nagaland, 0.6 million in Manipur and 0.1 9million in Arunachal states) and living in the remote and mountainous country between the Indian state of Assam and Burma.
  • There are also Naga groups in Burma. Nagas traditionally are tribally organized, with a strong warrior tradition.

Nagaland

  • Nagaland is the strategic Eastern Frontier State of India. This mountainous region is the home of a multitude of tribal population of mongoloid race.
  • This region was ruled by Myanmar (Burma) from 1819-1826, when the British began annexing its hill areas. 
  • Nagaland had attained statehood in 1963. The moderates signed the Shillong Accord in 1975, seen as the first peace agreement, but the hardliners had rejected it outright and continued with the armed movement for Naga sovereignty.

Role of NSCN-IM

  • On November 11, 1975, the Shillong Accord was signed between the government and a section of the Naga National Council (NNC), under which this NNC faction and the underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) laid down arms.
  • A 140-strong group led by Thuingaleng Muivah refused to accept the Accord and, in 1980, formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
  • With Muivah were his comrades Isak Chishi Swu and S S Khaplang.
  • In 1988, the NSCN split into two groups, led by Isak and Muivah, and Khaplang.
  • After NNC leader Angami Zapu Phizo died in London in 1991, the NSCN-IM came to be seen as the predominant Naga rebel outfit.

How did the peace efforts start?

  • The efforts for peace started soon after the NNC declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947.
  • It took until August 1997, however, for the first ceasefire agreement to be signed between the government and the NSCN-IM.
  • The security situation in Nagaland and neighbouring states, however, remained grim, and the ceasefire was violated by both the NSCN-IM and NSCN-K.
  • The NSCN-K unilaterally broke the agreement in March 2015, and was subsequently declared an unlawful association under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • The NSCN-IM dropped its demand of sovereignty after several rounds of negotiations with the government.

The key-players

  • The three main players involved in the ethnic conflict of Nagaland are:
    • The Ethnic Nagas
    • The Government of India
    • The Government of Myanmar
  • The Nagas were historically represented first by the Naga National Council (NNC), which in the late 50s took up arms and formed an underground Naga army.
  • The NNC split in 1975, the breakaway faction being the NSCN, which split further in later years, most prominently into the NSCN(IM) and NSCN (Khaplang) in 1988.

Current demands of Naga people

  • Naga people mainly have three demands:
    • Naga Yezabo (Naga Constitution) 
    • Naga national flag
    • Greater Nagalim

Greater Nagalim’

  • In the NSCN’s conception, “Greater Nagalim” consisted of Nagaland and “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, which included several districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, and a part of Myanmar.
  • While the area of Nagaland in 16,527 sq km, Greater Nagalim sprawled over 1,20,000 sq km.
  • The demand for Nagalim has always agitated Assam, Manipur and Arunachal.

What Does the 'Framework Accord of 2015' Say?

  • After the Shillong Accord signed between NNC and Government of India in 1975 where NNC agreed to give up arms and the Ceasefire agreement between NSCN (IM) and the Centre in 1997, the Modi government signed a framework agreement with the NSCN(IM) On 3 August 2015.
  • The move was described as historic and unprecedented and was believed to have opened the doors for further talks.
  • The agreement was signed nearly 18 years after the government’s ceasefire 1997 deal with Naga armed groups.
  • While neither the Centre nor the Naga groups have been forthcoming with details, the framework agreement did accept special status for the Nagas.
  • There was an understanding on a settlement within the Indian federation, with due regard to the uniqueness of Naga history.

The revealed agreement

  • The framework agreement shared as part of a detailed press statement issued by the NSCN-IM said,

“Both sides have understood each other’s respective positions and are cognizant of the universal principle that in a democracy, sovereignty lies with the people.

Accordingly, the Govt. of India and the NSCN, respecting people’s wishes for sharing the sovereign power as defined in the competencies reached an agreement on the 3rd August, 2015 as an honorable solution.”

  • The agreement stated “sharing the sovereign power” and provide for an “enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities”.

Conclusion

For more than 70 years, Nagas have stood unwavering for the Naga cause, undeterred by the mountains of hurdles and suffering keeping the aspirations of nagas alive. It’s high time to resolve the peace talks. Any attempt to expedite the peace process without understanding the Naga sentiments could backfire, and lead to a dangerous situation.

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