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Now, Naga civil society opts for ‘Bandh’, Congress endorses NNPG pact of 2017

Now, Naga civil society opts for 'Bandh', Congress endorses NNPG pact of 2017

By Nirendra Dev

New Delhi, Jan 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) In a significant development, the Nagaland civil society has called for a morning to afternoon 'Bandh' across the state on Saturday to ventilate the people's protest against the failure of the Central government to ink a final peace solution pact with Naga rebels.


The convenor of the Nagaland People's Action Committee (NPC) Theja Therieh told journalists in Dimapur, that the people of Nagaland desire a "resolution to Naga issue prior to the election" and mentioned that none in the state be it the various tribal bodies, legislators, or political parties, are opposed to finding a Solution.

All sections and key stakeholders including state legislators have made their voices heard loud and clear to the Centre that they want a solution.

The Bandh coincides with the visit of the team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) led by CEC Rajiv Kumar.

Therieh said while the poll panel shall be fulfilling its constitutional duties, the NPAC shall have no say in that, but if democracy is for the people, by the people and of the people, then the people of Nagaland have made it clear that they want a solution and the bandh shall be a democratic expression of resentment against the "delay in finding a solution".

Paradoxically though pressure seems to be mounting on the centre for inking a final peace pact, the real cause of delay is clearly the twin demands of the NSCN-IM -- a separate Flag and a Naga constitution. This has been outright rejected by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and others repeatedly.

The Centre as well as the umbrella body of seven Naga outfits Naga National Political Group (NNPG) are also keen to sign such a final peace pact at the earliest.

In yet another related and crucial development, the Nagaland Congress party has stated that "the onus is on the Modi government and Home Minister Amit Shah to deliver a Solution now".

State Congress chief K. Therie told IANS: "The Centre must be sincere in implementing the Agreed Position signed with the umbrella body NNPG in 2017 because the broad agreements on that score have tried to deal with issues concerning the people of Nagaland state."

Interestingly, the NNPG led by N. Kitovi Zhimomi is fiercely against holding elections.

The umbrella body of seven militant groups had earlier demanded the resignation of the Neiphiu Rio government to facilitate an early signing of a peace pact. It had signed the preliminary Agreed Position in 2017 when R.N. Ravi was the state Governor and negotiator.

The Congress endorsement of the Agreed Position of 2017 will definitely help the Centre to frame up its stance to push for an early solution even if the NSCN-IM does not come on board.

One source in the know of things said: "The Naga issue has been deliberately made complicated and diluted by those who are outsiders to the state. The Centre is open to the idea of making a special political and developmental arrangement for Nagas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. In the Status Paper worked out between the Centre and the NNPG, there is already a proposal for special autonomous territorial councils even with legislative powers."

These observations are again critical as people of six districts in Eastern Nagaland now want a separate state carved
out of Nagaland.

Congress president Therie said: "To me, Statehood for Nagaland is vital and so is the political integration of Nagaland.
We cannot allow any compromise on Article 371 (A). The Congress priority is for the integrity of Nagaland state."

As it is, the 'outsiders' bogey has hit the Naga peace process.

The NSCN-IM draws its strength from Tangkhul Nagas who actually reside mostly in the Ukhrul region of the neighbouring state of Manipur. Therefore, clamour now often latent but very strong is that the Nagas 'outside Nagaland state' should not interfere in the affairs of present Nagaland state.

In May 2022, veteran Naga leader S.C. Jamir had told this journalist: "It is true we have so many tribes. We can really forge unity and harmony among ourselves. But some outsiders have been creating problems for so many years. But now integration (of Naga areas) is no longer there; they should take care of their own problem. But allow us to take care of our own problems exclusively for us...

"I have been often misinterpreted and misunderstood. But outsiders should not become a burden for Nagaland. So, Nagaland will be Nagaland; Manipur will be Manipur. So there can be no dispute. I have explained these in detail to everyone. We cannot cross Mao Gate, you know the topography."

In fact, prior to 2017 Agreed Position between NNPG and the centre, the Framework Agreement was also inked on August 3, 2015 between the Centre and NSCN-IM but the hurdles created by the demands for a separate Flag and Naga constitution continues to hamper the peace process.

Elections are due in Nagaland next month along with Meghalaya and Tripura. The EC is now on a visit to these three states. In Eastern Nagaland -- that has 20 out of 60 Assembly seats, the apex Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) has threatened to boycott the polls if statehood demand is not fulfilled.

The ENPO delegation is now engaged in talks with a three-member special Home Ministry panel headed by Naga peace emissary A.K. Mishra in Guwahati.

"One round of meeting on Thursday remained inconclusive," a source said.

It may be relevant to note that the village elders' body, the Nagaland Gaon Burrah Federation (NGBF), in a statement had said last week: "Resolving the Naga political issue and post solution realignments of flawed political and administrative status will fulfill the aspiration of Eastern Nagaland Tribes."

(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, 'The Talking Guns: North East India' and
'Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth'. Views are personal)

Source: IANS

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Now, Naga civil society opts for 'Bandh', Congress endorses NNPG pact of 2017

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