The Centre is now planning direct talks with Naga insurgents. But the factions have begun their own peace process, reports Teresa Rehman
KNOWN AS the “mother of all insurgencies”, the armed Naga movement, which can be traced back to the 1940s, is witnessing new contours now. The protracted peace talks for the past 12 years, with the one-man interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah alone interacting with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) for 10 long years, is now coming to an end.
The Centre has decided to wind up the term of the former home secretary, who was first appointed as interlocutor on July 28, 1999 and kept getting oneyear extensions. The Centre now wants to hold direct talks with the Naga rebel group, giving a new dimension to the peace process which was initiated in 1997 and has been going on without any political breakthrough. The peace talks have faltered on two key issues – of territorial integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the region, including neighbouring Myanmar, and on the issue of a resolution under the ambit of the Indian Constitution.
The long years of protracted conflict with gross human rights violations has taken its toll on this small state of over two million people. For the ordinary Naga, it has meant bloodshed, trauma, poverty, a corrupt system, drug-abuse and HIV-AIDS. Nagaland remains an agrobased economy with no industry. The conflict has also led to further militarisation and the emergence of even more deadly armed movements in the region. The various factions of the Naga rebel groups themselves have been involved in fratricidal clashes.
THE NAGA COVENANT
The Naga factions have signed a covenant to forgive each other
Seventeen months ago, the Naga factions and 42 civil society groups forged a forum called the FNR
The signatories have formed a Joint Working Group of top leaders
The factions have agreed to desist from attacking each other
FNR is organising public meetings, reconciliation football matches and a United Naga Singing Choir