Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is end of insurgency in Nagaland in sight?

SILCHAR, Sept 7: “There has been some noted progress in talks between the Government of India and NSCN (IM) with Padmanabhaiah as the interlocutor”, hinted Naga leadership at Kohima. It, at the same time, refuted the allegations that it was harbouring and helping other militant outfits of the neighbouring States. In fact, the ground situation in Nagaland has fast changed with the public outcry for peace, a campaign being launched by Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers’ Association and other front ranking NGOs. Along with that comes the growing disillusionment among ranks and files of both the factions of NSCN- (IM) and (Khaplang).

After the last round of talks at Amsterdam between the GOI and NSCN (IM), the signal that emerged indicated that “positive moves are there for finding an amicable solution to the six-decade-old Naga issue.” Union Home Ministry monitoring the situation in Nagaland has noted marked improvement as the warring factions of Naga outfits have shown restraint of late in observing ground rules and ceasefire agreements bringing down illegal activities like extortions, kidnapping and fatricidal killings.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio appealed to all militant groups to honour people’s growing aspiration for peace and create a congenial atmosphere for the success of the peace-process.

Padmanabhaiah, according to reports from national capital, was behind the preparation of draft for agreement for taking a firm stand on the issue to arrive at a just and honourable solution, acceptable to both the parties. His role like that of Swaraj Kaushal, former interlocutor, has been appreciated by NSCN (IM) leadership. But, it is to be recalled that Kaushal’s unintentional statement on extending ceasefire between the Central Government and NSCN (IM) anywhere in India and beyond led to mass agitation in Manipur.

The then Chief Ministers of Asom and Arunachal Pradesh, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Mukut Mithi, reacted angrily saying, “extension of ceasefire beyond Nagaland will mean legitimatizing the claim of Naga outfits on our land”.

As a true statesman, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister, understood its grave implications and invited the Chief Ministers of the three States concerned to seek their opinion on the issue who gave a firm “no” to part with even an inch of their territory.

The peace-package as a first step, according to indications, lays stress on bringing all the extremist groups operating in Nagaland on one platform for working out the modalities and implementation of the scheme. Former Union Minister Oscar Fernandez is currently playing a vital role in this regard. The package strives for political and economic solution. If everything goes well, the peace accord might become a reality by the end of this year.

Indications available suggest that any solution will be within the Constitution and federal structure of the country.

The package includes enough funds for development, enactment of laws for protecting the identity, interests, culture and tradition of Nagas.

Provision would be made to provide greater autonomy and more powers for administrative expediency. On the other contentious issues of separate currency and independent foreign policy, no hint is available. The most vexed issue of Nagalim calls for a cautious approach by the centre without disturbing the territorial integrity of Asom, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. THE SENTINEL

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