Naga Peace Accord its significance and critical appraisal
The August 3 peace accord between National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and Government of India could be a harbinger of peace in the strife-torn North-East. The agreement was signed between Thuingaleng Muivah, the present General Secretary of NSCN (IM) and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ‘framework agreement’ is a progressive step in the right direction which will initiate dialogue within the broad four walls of the Indian Constitution.
The above accord comes in the backdrop of deadly ambush in Manipur, which claimed lives of 18 army personnel. The ambush is thought to have been carried out by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s SS Khaplang-led faction (NSCN-K), operating from bases across the border in Myanmar. Government acted swiftly by launching a covert operation across the Indo-Myanmar border to punish the perpetrators which forced NSCN faction of the Indian side to come on the table.
The Peace accord augurs well with the internal security dimension of the North-East given its geo-political position as being surrounded by four countries China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. North-East is linked with the Indian heartland through the 21 km wide Siliguri Corridor, commonly known as the chicken neck. With the abatement in armed insurgency, development work can be carried with greater pace which will help in the integration of North-East with the Indian mainland. North-East has a tremendous economic potential which has remained unexplored till. It can emerge as the cradle of tourism and organic farming. With greater normalcy security forces involved in internal security can be moved to border areas for its optimum management.
Broad points of Peace accord
The details of accord are not out but it is believed that the aspirations of Nagas will be addressed within the framework of Indian Constitution.
• Cultural integration of Nagas living in states other than Nagaland will be facilitated through special measures.
• It would also provide for the financial and administrative autonomy of the Naga-dominated areas in other states.
• Government is willing to consider devolution of more powers to Nagaland legislature under article 371 A which is already in force
Naga insurgent demand over the years
The Naga movement has been asserting a distinct ethnic identity and demanding an independent homeland.
The NSCN was formed in the aftermath of the Shillong Accord of 1975, signed between the government of India and the Naga National Council (NNC). The NSCN had started life demanding the creation of “Greater Nagaland” or “Nagalim”. This would be a sovereign Naga territory, wedged between India and Myanmar. It would consist of the Naga-dominated areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as parts of Myanmar.
The NSCN-IM, which had given up its original demand of sovereignty a few years ago, has been asking for integration of Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
In North-East several insurgent groups are active for decades and have been demanding independent and autonomous states based on ethnicity. In past also many peace accords has been signed but they had not translated into the desired outcome due to rigid postures of the main parties.
• In 1964, a Nagaland Peace Mission was formed which signed a ceasefire with A.Z. Phizo, only to last till 1968.
• In 1975, the Shillong Accord was signed in which the Naga National Council (NNC) agreed to give up arms and accept the Indian Constitution.
Muivah and Swu, who were then NNC members, revolted on the Naga sovereignty demand and went on to form the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980 with S. S. Khaplang. In 1988, the NSCN split due to leadership differences, into the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (K).
The NSCN (I-M) have signed a ceasefire agreement with the government till April 27, 2016.
Mizoram peace accord of 1986
Mizoram has returned to normalcy after signing of peace accord between Mizo National Front (MNF) and Government of India.
Peace accord effect on North-East Insurgency
The existence of different ethnic and tribal entities in the Northeast gives identity politics here special traction and the rule of law and other institutions of governance are subverted directly or through collusive arrangements to serve personal or partisan ends of the militants.
The latest agreement has been signed with NSCN (IM) only and its other faction is still not on board like the NSCN (Khaplang), the NSCN (Konyak-Kitovi). The Naga Hoho( tribal council), Naga National Council(NNC), Naga student Federation(NSF) and Naga Mother Association are other important players which acts independent of the NSCN (I-M) has not endorsed the latter’s leadership of the Naga cause.
There are numerous stakeholders in the Naga peace process and any dialogue to be successful needs to accommodate the interests of all these parties. Government through proper consultation should try to bring them on board. Before arriving at any solution GOI has to take different North east states into confidence.
The above peace accord if fructified will motivate other insurgents groups to come on the table and to have a dialogue for genuine grievances like the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, ULFA etc.
It is even argued that the present accord by NSCN (IM) is to escape the backlash of armed forces which was bound to intensify after the June ambush. The present General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah has aged and his leadership is waning and will this accord acceptable to younger leadership is to be seen keenly. How far this accord will translate into a true peace initiative is a matter of future but definitely it is a good initiative which needs to be welcomed.