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Breaking deadlock in Naga talks

Nagaland Assembly adopting a four-point resolution to push for final solution of the Naga peace talks is a timely initiative to break the deadlock.

Naga talks

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 Feb 2021 5:00 AM GMT

Nagaland Assembly adopting a four-point resolution to push for final solution of the Naga peace talks is a timely initiative to break the deadlock. It also reflects the common desire of Naga people for an early and a single solution to over six decades-old Naga political problem. Through the resolution, the Nagaland Assembly has urged both the Central government and the Naga political groups to sit across the table for "conclusion of the political negotiation, that is honourable, inclusive and acceptable to the people as one solution without further delay." The resolution moved by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and passed by the House unanimously, also endorsed and reiterated all the past resolutions adopted by the House on the issue. Peace talks between the Central government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) reached a deadlock over the contentious issues of integration of Naga-inhabited areas, separate flag, and separate constitution for the Nagas. Conflicting statements by the Centre's interlocutor in the Naga peace talks and Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi in his Governor's Address in the current budget session and information furnished by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Parliament on the status of Naga peace talks triggered confusion and anxiety. The Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that negotiations with Naga groups are at an advanced stage but no time-frame for agreement can be indicated at this stage. The Governor's Address, on the other hand, states that "negotiations between the Government of India and the Naga groups over the past many years have been concluded." The Governor underscored the need for "efforts to build on the substantial gains made so far, and to move swiftly for the final solution" while reiterating that there will be only one solution to the Naga political issue. The Central government's response to the unanimous resolution passed by the Nagaland Assembly is expected to clear the air and give an indication if any breakthrough has been made over the contentious issue. Government of India said a clear no to separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, while the NSCN(IM) has ruled out agreeing to any peace accord unless these two made integral part of the final solution. The deadlock will not be over till these issues are addressed by both the sides. The Central government is also holding separate negotiation with the Naga National Political groups- a conglomerate of seven other Naga insurgent groups. A single solution first requires the NSCN(IM) and NNPG to sit across the table and agree on fine prints of a common solution agreeable to all the Naga factions engaged in peace talks. The appeal by the Nagaland Assembly to all Naga political groups, political parties, civil society organizations, the Churches, and the NGOs to "continue working towards strengthening the Naga unity, and come together in the spirt of oneness for the larger interest of the Naga people," therefore, will help create a conducive atmosphere for bringing all the stakeholders in the peace talks to sit across a single table to iron out their differences. It is hoped that the Central government as well as the NSCN(IM) and the NNPG will seize the opportunity to put the issues on a single table to initiate the process of "one solution." This will at least help identifying all the agreed points to narrow down the negotiations to focus only on the issues over which there are disagreements and take those issues with the spirit of hammering out the final solution acceptable to all sitting around the single table. India expanding its "Act East Policy" to "Act Indo Pacific" with ASEAN centrality has changed the geopolitics in the South East Asian region. A nearly solution to the Naga political problem will unlock a huge window of opportunities for the Naga-inhabited areas which will be central to this expanding regional multilateral engagement. Aspirations of the Naga people to embark on a journey of sustained peace and progress cannot remain trapped in protracted conflict resolutions. The Central government also needs to acknowledge that delay in final solution of the Naga political problem will only be a thaw in the expanding multilateral engagement under India's Indo-Pacific approach for strategic and economic cooperation with countries in the region. A pragmatic approach to end the deadlock in Naga peace talks is to convince all stakeholders to refrain from publicly airing their views over the contentious issues and continue talking across the table to iron out their differences. Involving the State governments of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in the dialogue process is crucial for finding the final solution. People in these states are worried over final Naga solution disrupting territorial integrity. New Delhi cannot bury its head in the sand about the ongoing Naga talks reaching the dead end over Naga-inhabited areas in these states.

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