Now, Zeliangrong Nagas of Assam and Manipur back Kitovi-led NNPG

Two days after N. Kitovi Zhimomi-led NNPG got a morale booster as Arunachal Pradesh-based Naga organisations backed it in the ongoing peace parleys process, on Tuesday the ‘Zeliangrong Naga organisations’ of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland have expressed full support and endorsed the Agreed Position of the Working Committee (WC) and the Government of India.

The ‘endorsement’ was announced after a consultative meet of the Working Committee of NNPG and the Zeliangrong Baudi (Assam, Manipur, Nagaland), Zeliangrong Youth Front (ZYF) Assam, Manipur Nagaland, and Zeliangrong Students’ Union (AMN) and Zeliangrong Baudi Manipur on Tuesday at Dimapur.

A joint press release issued by Zeliangrong organisations and the NNPG said Zeliangrong tribal leaders “appreciated” the NNPG for taking “on board all Naga tribes beyond Nagaland State”.

They expressed great hope that since the political negotiations with all Naga groups had concluded on October 31, 2019, the “Naga people in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland would be restored of their identity and political right through honourable and acceptable political solution”.

The Zeliangrong leaders from three states also acknowledged that the Agreed Position (signed on Nov 17, 2017) and the subsequent status paper of the WC, NNPG has given a “transparent and explicit future position of Nagas which is acceptable to all sections”.

On June 5, the Naga groups from Arunachal Pradesh including a women-run organisation had backed the NNPG.

The June 5 and June 7 developments are now being perceived in various quarters as as “jolt and setback” to the NSCN-IM at this critical juncture of Naga peace talks. There is a suggestion that some over-ground Naga politicians too could be upset as they probably preferred the status quo and no final solution.

The NSCN-IM has been alleged for adopting ‘delay’ tactics in pursuing negotiations with the Government of India – the charge is however, denied by the militant group that is led by mercurial leader Thuingaleng Muivah.

After June 5 meeting wherein Arunachal Pradesh bodies had backed NNPG and endorsed the parleys between the centre and the NNPG, a source had pointed fingers towards the NDPP-led government in Nagaland and said, “All efforts of the ruling coalition to prolong the Agreement to get over with elections have now come a cropper and futile”.

Within Nagaland state, the much respected Nagaland Gaon Burrah Federation, 14 Tribal Bodies, Central Nagaland Tribal Council (of Aos, Semas and Lothas) and Nagaland Tribal Council had also urged the Government of India to sign the agreement on “whatsoever concluded as on October 31, 2019.

These developments come as a relief to those who favour early Solution and lasting peace though the NSCN-IM had raised continuous ‘objections’ to a final agreement on the ground stating that for them the Flag and a separate Constitution were must.

The government of India has categorically rejected the demand. In fact Union Home Minister Amit Shah has personally urged Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, other state ministers and legislators and seasoned veteran politician S.C. Jamir to explain to the Naga people that it would be impossible for the centre to negotiate on the issues of Flag and Constitution.

Meanwhile another revelation — as reported by IANS – has left many Nagas shell-shocked.

The bone of contention in the 25 years old Naga peace talks could be elsewhere – not the formal subjects of Flag and a separate Naga Constitution.

Sources said the NSCN-IM has proposed formation of a ‘Pan Naga Hoho’ – a permanent body like Rajya Sabha – but insists that the ‘chairman’ of the Pan Naga Hoho would be the most powerful authority and who shall also become the executive head as well the Supreme Commander of Nagalim.

The government of India predictably is unable to make a forward movement on this as it is difficult to stomach that in the garb of ‘Naga Constitution’ what is being proposed is that the proposed post of ‘Chairman’ of the Pan Naga Hoho would be as powerful as Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping in their respective countries.

In effect, that would the chairman of Pan Naga Hoho would be also more powerful than perhaps even the President of India with the authority to mercy the convicted ones.

The proponents of the Pan Naga Hoho also say – they also want to empower the Chairman with the ‘power’ to nominate members in the Pan Naga Hoho and this process will undermine the powers of elected Naga leaders.

It further states that all ‘executive, political, budgetary and negotiating authority shall be vested in the chairman’.

“How can something like this be accepted…?,” a source told IANS.

(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)

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