For over six decades, Naga nationalist leaders have been skirmishing for a separate
`Naga state` although not much headway has been made in the struggle till date. The Nagas, who reside in states neighbouring to Nagaland, have a wide gap in economic and social status as compared with the Nagas living in Nagaland.
This disparity has also dented prospects of real integration in their cause due to lack of harmony among them. While effort has been made by the leaders to bring the Nagas under one umbrella, disunity still creeps in owing mainly to their variant outlooks.
After the outfits began to turn to arms, the Indian security forces carried out counter-insurgency operations in all Naga-inhabited areas. And, in 1972, the Armed Forces Special Power Act was amended in the entire North East region declaring it as a `disturbed area`.
As antagonism began to rise, and violence would only annihilate the country’s peace and security, in 1992, the then Governor MM Thomas, a clergyman from Kerala, made a successful attempt to connect with the NSCN through dialogue. In 1995, the then
Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, for the first time met NSCN (IM) leaders Muivah and Swu in Paris. Afterwards in 1997, it was at the historic Indo-Naga peace talks held at Circuit House in Dimapur on 31 July, that a ceasefire between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) was affirmed for an indefinite period of time.
Subsequently, the Indo-Naga peace talks between the National Socialist Council of
Nagaland (IM) and the Government of India emerged with the appointment of former Union Home Secretary Padmanabhaiah as interlocutor in July 1999, initially for a year. But, his tenure was extended every year till 2009. He was replaced by R S Pandey, IAS
(Retd.) as the new interlocutor in February this year to prolong the peace talks with the NSCN (IM).
The peace talks were held in many places like Bangkok, Zurich, Geneva, Amsterdam,
Hague, New Delhi and Kohima. At least 60 rounds of talks had been carried out even if there is not much spectacle of political solution with both the sides sticking to their own
With the Naga leaders staying firm to their demands on the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, the Government of India, on the other hand, while trying to solve the core issue with the Naga leaders, has
been time and again giving assurances to these states that their territorial integrity will be respected at all cost.
But, hostility and resentments among three Naga underground factions - the NSCN/GPRN (NSCN-IM), the GPRN/NSCN (NSCN-K) and the FGN/NNC - seems to have
earned them moral liability for failure in their battle for a `Sovereign state`. Meanwhile, the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, formed of apex tribal bodies and organizations, has been pushing hard for a reunion among the various underground factions by organising several meetings, so that a peaceful political settlement with the Centre can be achieved.
The NSCN (IM), which is considered as the main faction, and has been holding the peace
talks with the Centre has also appealed to the other two outfits to forgive and forget the bitter past for a common national goal. The United Naga Council, in one of its latest moves, has resolved to sever all ties with the government of Manipur.
Meanwhile, in a setback to the Naga nationalism, the Manipur Assembly has decided to urge the Government of India to amend Article 3 of the Indian Constitution, that allows
altering any state’s boundary by making it smaller or larger and even creating a new state. Perhaps, with careful introspections, and taking solemn note of the core issue of the Naga political deadlock, a pragmatic solution should be obtained as soon as possible to establish peace in the region.