After about a week of disappointing news that the Naga peace talks could get stalled once again, a timely intervention by a citizens’ body, Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) has kept things on track.
Thankfully, immediate focus is now for the much needed ‘reconciliation’ between bitter rivals the NNPG and NSCN(IM).
While NNPG is an umbrella body of seven militant outfits and has taken pro-Final peace pact stance since November 2017, the NSCN-IM led by the likes of Thuingaleng Muivah had red-flagged the peace process by raising the twin bogies of a separate Naga Constitution and Flag.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah in September conveyed to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio-led Core Committee of elected legislators that these two demands would not be met but the Centre is open to ink any Solution pact to bring about the much sought after lasting peace in Nagaland and in adjoining areas inhabited by Naga population.
At the initiative of FNR, a number of social workers and leaders from apex NGOs and civil societies met in Dimapur on Saturday, and decided to bring both the warring sides to a common platform.
“This has become all the more crucial as the Home Ministry has made it absolutely clear that there should be only One Solution and One Agreement,” a source told IANS.
A statement from the FNR at the end of Saturday’s (October 8) meeting said, “The Naga public will render our wholehearted assistance to this reconciliation process for the NSCN and NNPGs to find common ground and mutually agree on a relationship of cooperation based on the Naga historical and political rights in order to move forward.”
In fact, now all eyes will be on next week’s landmark meeting between NSCN(IM) and NNPG.
Sources said that as the Naga people’s desire ought to be respected and hence the all important ice-breaking meeting between NSCN-IM and NNPG leaders took place on September 14.
At the end of September 14 meet, a Joint Accordant statement clearly had laid down a roadmap. It had aptly said – “….in order to chart a path forward, we (NNPG and NSCN-IM) remain committed to peace and respect and to resolve outstanding issues amongst us.”
The two sides have over three decades of mutual rivalry. Essentially, it used to be turf wars as the NSCN(IM) led by Muivah and Late Isak Chishi Swu drew their strengths from Manipur hills where Tangkhul and other Naga tribes reside. The NNPG is led by N. Kitovi Zhimomi, a Sema Naga from Zunheboto district in the state of Nagaland.
Kitovi was a lieutenant of Late S.S. Khaplang, a Hemi Naga insurgent leader who originally hailed from Myanmar.
The FNR statement on Saturday further stated raising hopes that “….the Naga people must change by acting in hope and acknowledging one another as people of common belonging”.
The September 14 meeting was attended among others by Muivah’s trusted aide and one-time militant commander V.S. Atem while Alezo Venuh, Coordinator of NNPG, represented the umbrella body.
(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of book, ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’
Uncensored Truth’. The views expressed are personal.)