The ‘delay’ in finalising a solution to the decades-old Naga issue could derail the hard-owned Peace parleys.
“If a negotiated solution is to be kept undeclared and prolonged, disrespecting and hurting the Naga people’s sentiment, the aggrieved Nagas have every right to revert back to pre-independent India position and status of 1929 memorandum,” the NNPG said in a statement from its camp near Dimapur.
The reference to 1929 is significant as it was that year that a Naga delegation had submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission (as appointed by the colonial British rulers) stating that the community would like to stay ‘independent’.
“The right to self-determination is not an exclusive right of strong and powerful nations alone,” said the umbrella organisation of seven Naga militant groups operating in Nagaland.
Toughening its stance on the vexed issue, the NNPG media cell said, “Anti-solution elements hijacking Naga political solution for personal aggrandizement shall be solely responsible for any eventuality.”
Virtually rejecting the political process in the state as political parties have gone hyper active recently, the NNPG stated, “The right to self-determination is not an exclusive right of strong and powerful nations alone.”
Further, issuing a stern warning to militant activities, the statement said, “It is time for the Government of India to be forthcoming.”
“NNPG will adhere to the pioneering revolutionary leaders and respond to anti-solution elements as deemed appropriate,” it added.
The Naga peace talks had commenced in 1997 during I.K. Gujara’s tenure as Prime Minister; and later only Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave it a definite push and signed a preliminary pact first with NSCN-IM in 2015 and an “Agreed Position” with NNPG in 2017.
The statement further said, “The antagonists should understand that the delay is neither in the interest of the Govt of India nor of Nagas. The question to Prime Minister of India is – If the Government of India (GoI) was not determined to solve the Naga issue, why was official invitation extended to Naga entities?”
The NNPG also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the “courage and guts to depute trusted interlocutor R.N Ravi to interlocute with the Naga groups. The same Prime Minister is still at the helm, he began the talks, he must conclude it.”
“Why begin something if it cannot be concluded? Naga people and their history cannot be held hostage for cheap political gains for cheap selfish leader,” the statement said.
Both the umbrella platform NNPG and its leader N. Kitovi Zhimomi have been “strong proponents” of solution and hence the statement issued must be taken with “seriousness”.
Since 2017, the NNPG has been firm about a peaceful and early solution.
Significantly the statement came hours after BJP general secretary, Organisation, B.L. Santhosh kicked off the election preparedness process in Nagaland.
The regional party, NDPP and BJP are in power in the state and the ruling dispensation also enjoys support of another regional party, NPF. The BJP has also inked a 20:40 seat share formula with NDPP – a pact that has been resented by several BJP workers and leaders.
The NNPG statement blamed the state government saying, “Today, the opposition-less government in Nagaland is creating so much friction within Naga tribes. The Govt of India is being misinformed on matters on the ground. The overwhelming demand of the people for early solutions is being ignored”.
It also said, “The narrative is shrewdly being manipulated to electoral narrative from political solution. GoI representatives and inner circle of Nagaland’s elected representatives are visibly saying one thing one day and doing the opposite the next day, playing havoc with the sentiment of the Naga people”.
“The four point resolution adopted by 60 MLAs on 16th July 2022 gave a clear lucid signal to the GoI that the Naga tribes, state government, apex civil societies and common people were prepared for a political solution. However, the resolution was not meant to officially reach the PMO (Prime Minister’s office) or the office of Home Minister of India,” it added.
“It was a mere exercise to fool the Naga people. On July 26, the NDPP and BJP betrayed the Naga people with a 40-20 pre-poll alliance,’ the NNPG stated.
(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)