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Less than a month after the Centre ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status that allowed it to have its own constitution and a flag, a Naga extremist group has for the first time said a “separate flag and constitution” are necessary for an “honourable solution” to the 22yearold peace process
How old id the Naga political issue:
- The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.
- In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947. The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.
When did the armed movement begin:
On March 22, 1952, Phizo formed the underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA). The Government of India sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
When did the peace efforts start:
- Almost simultaneously with the resistance. On June 29, 1947, Assam Governor Sir Akbar Hyderi signed a 9-point agreement with moderates T Sakhrie and Aliba Imti, which was almost immediately rejected by Phizo.
- The Naga Hills, a district of Assam, was upgraded to a state in 1963, by also adding the Tuensang Tract that was then part of NEFA. In April the next year, Jai Prakash Narain, Assam Chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott formed a Peace Mission, and got the government and NNC to sign an agreement to suspend operations that September.
- But the NNC/NFG/NFA continued to indulge in violence, and after six rounds of talks, the Peace Mission was abandoned in 1967, and a massive counter-insurgency operation launched.
When did the NSCN come into being:
- On November 11, 1975, the government got a section of NNC leaders to sign the Shillong Accord, under which this section of NNC and NFG agreed to give up arms. A group of about 140 members led by Thuingaleng Muivah, who were at that time in China, refused to accept the Shillong Accord, and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980.
- Muivah also had Isak Chisi Swu and S S Khaplang with him. In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent clash. While the NNC began to fade away, and Phizo died in London in 1991, the NSCN (IM) came to be seen as the “mother of all insurgencies” in the region.
1964: CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT
“The Government of India welcomes the steps intended to bring about peace in Nagaland and with this object in view… they will depute representatives, with whom will be associated the representatives of the Government of Nagaland, to take part in talks with leaders of the underground.
To facilitate these talks and taking note of the letter of August 10, 1964, it has been ordered that with effect from September 6, 1964, and for a period thereafter of one month at present, the security forces will not undertake:
a. jungle operations;
b. raiding of camps of the underground;
c. patrolling beyond one thousand yards of Security posts;
d. searching of villages;
e. aerial action;
f. arrests; and
g. imposition of labour by way of punishment.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCNIM) has said any solution would be far from honourable if the core issues such as a Naga flag and constitution are yet to be agreed upon between the group and the Centre. The publicity wing of the NSCN(IM) said hopes were raised about a final solution to the peace process.
It began when the outfit declared a ceasefire in July 1997 — when the Framework Agreement was signed onAugust 3, 2015. But there has been no headway in the three years since the agreement was signed, it said.
The Indian government has been going slow in taking a stand on the core issues, compelling the group’s chairman Q. Tuccu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah to write to the Prime Minister about the doubt and confusion on whether an honourable political solution can be arrived at, the NSCN (IM)said.