New Delhi: The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Naga Students’ Union, Delhi (NSUD) on Wednesday afternoon organised a rally to demand full implementation of the principles of the Framework Agreement signed between the government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) in August 2015.
Over 1,000 demonstrators marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi raising slogans and singing along the 2-km stretch to reinforce the demand for an early resolution in the sultry weather.
Speaking with EastMojo on the sidelines of the rally, the secretary-general of the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, Neingulo Krome, said, “The flag denotes our national identity, while the constitution will define our governance. So, with our own system of governance and our own identity, it will be an honourable solution.”
The newly elected president of NSF, Ninoto Awomi, also said, “We want to make it very clear to the government that a forced solution won’t be acceptable to Nagas. The government has recognised the unique history of the Nagas and, therefore, the solution must also be unique. Even in the past, there have been many agreements like the Nine-Point Agreement (Naga-Akbar Hyadri Accord), the Shillong Accord and the 16 Point Agreement. However, those weren’t able to bring lasting peace.”
Honour your commitment
The 2015 Framework Agreement seeks to find a solution to the insurgency problem in the state of Nagaland and other areas dominated by the members of Naga tribe in the Northeastern states of India and was inked at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The terms of the agreement were reportedly based on the principles of shared sovereignty between India and Nagalim or Greater Nagaland, peaceful co-existence and respect for the unique history of Naga tribes. The current Nagaland governor, RN Ravi, led the talks from the government side.
Ravi, a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, continues to be the government’s interlocutor for the peace talks with the various Naga groups. In August this year, he had informed a well-attended gathering in Kohima that Prime Minister Modi was keen to see the peace talks conclude in three months’ time. Dialogue between the government and various Naga groups commenced more than two decades ago in 1997.
Krome alleged that even after signing the agreement in the presence of the country’s highest authority, Ravi was now reinterpreting it as per his convenience. Emphasising that the centre must stick to its commitments, he observed that it was the only way to ensure lasting peace in the region.
“Respect the agreements made in the past 22 years recognizing Nagas and their situation as unique. Unless those views are accepted as mainstream by the government in writing how can we accept that as an honourable solution?” he asked.
Fear of repeal of Article 371(A)
The total population of the state of Nagaland is a little over 2.8 million. In India, various Naga ethnic groups are also spread out across the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. In February, about 3,000 Nagas had marched on the same route in New Delhi to demand an end to the stalemate over their long-pending aspirations.
Interestingly, the recent repeal of certain discriminatory provisions of Article 370 that extended a special status to the former state of Jammu & Kashmir, has led to a section of Naga political and civil society activists apprehensive about the future of special constitutional provisions extended to Nagaland under Article 371(A) of the Constitution.
In fact, commenting on the development in the state of J&K, a statement circulated by NSF reads, “Now, their (central government’s) focus is shifted to Naga political movement which is evident from the appointment of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor of India, as the in-charge of the Naga affairs. His appointment clearly indicates that the government of India is least concerned with the political matter of the Nagas, rather the issue is determined to be dealt bureaucratically and militarily.”
For its part, the government has held that Article 370 was a temporary provision, while Article 371(A) resulted after three years of intense negotiation between the people of Nagaland and the centre and, therefore, wouldn’t be breached. The most recent commitment to safeguarding various clauses provided under Article 371 that grants special provisions to the Northeastern states was made by Union home minister Amit Shah at the 68th plenary session of the North East Council (NEC) in Guwahati earlier this month.
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