KOHIMA: The harm that the inordinate delay to work out peace and solution has inflicted upon Nagaland and Naga life cannot be undone quickly. However, an atmosphere of optimism prevails across Nagaland and for those working for 'peace' in Delhi as well.
Of course the NNPG, the umbrella organization of seven militant groups, has won a small war. It was a critical one.
In the national capital, key players were keeping eyes on things unfolding at Kohima on July 16. Some were delighted as expected as the resolution from the key parliamentary panel of Naga legislators and two MPs sent in 'positive vibes'. There were a few exchanges of congratulatory messages also.
But in the debate that we have about the pros and cons of this latest statement and that has generated hopes about peace in Nagaland and parts of Northeast, certain other factors ought to be understood as well.
This brings us to the Point 3 of the statement of July 16.
"The Parliamentary Committee appeals to the negotiating parties to refer to the competencies as reflected in the Framework Agreement of August 3, 2015 signed between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM to arrive at a mutually acceptable definition of competencies to resolve this contentious issue at the earliest, and bring about a final solution that is honourable, acceptable and inclusive."
This is a sort of a minor game-changer because except the Centre and the NSCN-IM nobody knows about the details of the 'competencies' worked out between the two parties in 2015.
In fact, making the competencies open in public would help expedite the peace process. Moreover, bringing it see the light of the day is now a moral obligation for both the Government of India and the NSCN-IM. It has been a puzzling matter as to why 'secrecy' was maintained over the competencies of 2015 and the common people in Nagaland and also the rest of India were still only in guessing games and at times shooting arrows in darkness.
On the other hand, the Agreed Position inked between the Union Government and the umbrella organization, NNPG, were more transparent.
Even the competencies worked out in November 2017 vis-a-vis the Agreed Position was shared with public, media and also reported and at times debated. The NNPG calls their Status Paper 'very transparent'.
The introductory lines of the Status Papers say: "New ideas, new thinking and new outlook into the future led to radical changes in the socio-political and socio-economic frontiers" and also that there is a "new awakening in the Nagas".
Of course, the NSCN-IM has been the first set of negotiators with the Union Government.
But even after the Framework Agreement was signed by rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah and R N Ravi (as the Government of India's interlocutor), there were still delays for a final peace pact. If these 'delays' were deliberate on anyone's part; these have only backfired.
Right from the beginning, the Modi-led government was sincere with the Naga peace talks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi particularly did not want to go down the memory lane as having done nothing just as Dr Manmohan Singh's ten years have been. So once influential NSCN-IM chairman Isak Chishi Swu expired in 2016, the Centre wanted to deal with a prominent Naga rebel leader from 'Nagaland state'. Efforts were made to reach out to the groups operating in Nagaland.
"The need for an inclusive approach and to pave the way for the future of the coming generations was a thought process that the Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) had mooted," says the Status Paper.
Ultimately on November 17, 2017 an Agreed Position was inked between NNPG and the Centre. Of course, RN Ravi was the architect of this move and N Kitovi Zhimomi emerged as a principal stakeholder. This had irked Muivah.
Kitovi like Isak Swu is a Sema Naga - one of the major tribes in Nagaland that has control over 10-12 assembly segments in the 60-member assembly. Importantly, Semas reside in big numbers in the state's commercial hub and cash-rich Dimapur and adjoining areas.
Interestingly yet again, key NNPG leaders said that "during the informal and official rounds of negotiations with the Working Committee of NNPG, the Government of India never uttered a word about the Framework Agreement with NSCN-IM. No details of the FA were given and there was no condition laid down by the Government of India".
Hence, NNPG convener Kitovi and also others later said, "Matters had to be taken on a clean slate, that made the NNPG to work out an anchor point to be across the table with the Government of India."
In fact, it is in this context, the Status Paper agreed in principle between the Centre and NNPG, says rather categorically - "The whole spectrum of constitutional and legal position of India from 1951 to 2017 has to be reviewed and the position of Nagas had to be accepted by the Government of India".
To wrap up, for his part, Chief Minister Rio deserves credit for anchoring the July 16 meet and the resolution. There is a 'consistency' too on what his minister Neiba Kronu said at Pfutsero that early solution is the need of the hour. The goodwill generated by the July 16 resolution must be sustained. (IANS)