Let Peace Prevail
It has been 22 years since peace talks for the protracted Indo-Naga issue first began, and the settlement deadline of three months as stipulated by the Indian Government ends on October 31, 2019. Nagas around the globe wait with bated breath for the agreement that could change the course of life for the Nagas. Since signing the draft Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 with NSCN (IM) and the agreed position with the Working Committee (WC) of the Naga National Political Groups on November 17, 2017, the Indian government and the Naga political factions have undergone several new rounds of talks, with substantive issues and competencies discussed and the final agreement is ready for inking. However, current developments have emerged, with the Governor of Nagaland and Indian Government’s Interlocutor for the Naga Peace talks RN Ravi and the negotiators of NSCN (IM) at an impasse regarding the contentious symbolic issues of Separate Flag and Constitution, with each side holding steadfast to their positions. In relation to the issue, Ravi held a consultative meeting with primary stakeholders of Naga society on October 18, 2019, wherein the leadership of the apex Naga tribes, the Nagaland Goan Burah Federation, the Nagaland Tribes Council, Church leaders and civil society organisations were apprised of the content of the agreement and many of whom believed the interaction to be positive.
It is safe to say that a majority of the Naga people want a solution to the decades-long political talks as they want lasting peace in their homeland. The existence of parallel governments, the misuse of Naga nationalism by untoward elements for private gains, the daily harassment of Naga citizens, the non-progression of the state in many fields and the high levels of political and bureaucratic corruption must come to an end. The Nagas want to progress with the rest of the world however; in-order to achieve this final goal, peace should be the main imperative, not political, financial or social gain. The enthusiasm of the people longing for peace should not be misread by either party. There is an impending peril to the lives of civilians if peace is compromised between the negotiating groups. The incident on October 20, 2019 at Chenloisho village in Mon, between the 40 Assam Rifles and unidentified gunmen that endangered the lives of two innocent civilians who received minor injuries after getting caught in the line of fire and another firing incident between the Assam Rifles and some unidentified gunmen in Noklak district on Monday have created fear among the people who had faced violence in the past. This is but a small example of unwanted terror haunting the Nagas. With the increase of movements by the Naga political groups, deployment of Indian armed troops, the call back of police personnel to duty, and the order to state administrators to remain in postings, one cannot help but ponder the uncertainty of the days to come. A formal meeting is set to be held on October 24, 2019 between the Indian Government and the NSCN (IM) to hash out the remaining issues at hand. It is hoped that Peace Prevails and that an honourable and inclusive settlement is arrived at to secure a brighter and hopeful future for the Nagas.