In order to understand the protracted Indo-Naga issue, we have to open the whole vista of historical facts and the subsequent peacemaking efforts that brought us to this point.

Acknowledging that the so-called “16-point memorandum” and the “Shillong Accord” have taken the Naga political issue nowhere towards solving the Indo-Naga political problem, the government of India invited the leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) for political talk. These infamous agreements could not solve the problem because they were not issue-based solutions.

In the initial talk held in Paris, France on June 12, 1995 between the Prime Minister of India Mr. PV Narasimha Rao and the NSCN leaders Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and Mr. Th. Muivah, the Chairman and the General Secretary of NSCN respectively, it was mutually agreed that political dialogue would be held on the basis of three terms namely: (i) Talks without conditions (ii) talks at the highest level-i.e., at the Prime Minister level and (iii) talks in third countries.’

In the talks that followed, the Cease-Fire Agreement based on the three agreed terms was declared on 1st August 1997.The Cease-Fire Agreement was announced by the then Prime Minister Mr. IK Gujral in the Indian Parliament whereas Mr. Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman of NSCN announced it in the UNPO General Assembly that was held at The Hague, Netherlands. The declaration of the ceasefire agreement was warmly welcomed and applauded by the international communities when the news was made known in the United Nations Human Rights meeting.

It is on record how the former Indian Prime Ministers Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Deve Gowda, Mr. VP Singh and Mr. Chandra Shekhar considered the Indo-Naga political issue as a matter of exigency that requires tremendous amounts of statesmanship and leadership towards working out a lasting political solution to the chronic Indo-Naga political problem.

On 30th July 2000, the government of India and the NSCN as two entities extended the Indo-Naga Ceasefire agreement for another period of three months. The Naga national entity had already been recognized by UNPO, a parallel organization to UNO. The term entity was reiterated in the subsequent talks held on 13-14 June 2001 at Bangkok.

Notably, it was during the tenure of the honourable Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani when the government of India formally recognized the unique history and situation of the Nagas on July 11, 2002 at Amsterdam.

Chief Negotiator Th. Muivah took great pains in explaining the uniqueness of Naga history and situation. By unique history, it means Nagas have the history of Independence from time immemorial. They have never been an integral part of the Union of India and that of Burma, either by conquest or by consent. By unique position it means that the Naga issue is a case of resistance against invasion forces and not that of secessionist movement. The two Indian leaders acknowledged these hard facts.

The Congress-led UPA government headed by the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh proposed the concept of ‘shared sovereignty and co-existence of the two entities,’ the significance of which is self-explanatory.

The development brought many changes of fast tempo. Finally, the historic Framework Agreement was signed between government to India represented by RN Ravi, the Interlocutor and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim headed by its Chairman, Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and General Secretary Mr. Th. Muivah, the Chief Negotiator on 3rd August 2015 in the presence of the honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi; Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh; Indian Army Chief, Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag; National Security Advisor of India Mr. Ajit Doval, Cabinet Secretary, PMO Secretary, Home Secretary and a host of NSCN leaders. The signing ceremony of this historic event was live broadcasted through the national TV Channels which was witnessed by the whole world.

The Framework Agreement reiterates the unique history and position of the Nagas. The concepts of shared-sovereignty and co-existence have also been explained therein. It says, “In democracy, sovereignty lies with the people,” which implies that sovereignty of the Nagas is with the Naga people.

It is pertinent to reproduce here the very clause mentioned in the draft prepared by the government of India: “In the matters of her own affairs, as mutually agreed upon, Nagaland shall be sovereign. The agreement shall cover all Naga areas.”

The incumbent representative of the government of India once said “wrong Chapters took place in the past.” He assured us that solution would be worked out on the basis of the Framework Agreement. He leaves no room to doubt that the Framework Agreement is the cornerstone and the right time has come to work out solution. However, contrary to his commitment, he changed colour as he tried to interpret the Framework Agreement without any political depth considering the historical and political rights of the Nagas. His interpretation is only from the perspective of the Indian constitution and interests, to which NSCN talk team strongly opposed.

On the issue of the Naga national flag, the Indian representative had said: “The Government of India has acknowledged/recognized the Naga national flag.” We were utterly disappointed when he backtracked later. Notwithstanding this, we submitted our draft on the subject matter of the flag.

Despite the Government of India’s wavering stand, nothing could be farther from the truth as the flag and constitution are the integral parts of sovereignty. Sovereignty without flag and constitution is a form without content. Nagas have been in existence for thousands of years in their own land in accordance with our own sets of law.

Our chief negotiator Th. Muivah had unequivocally stated that a solution without Naga national flag and constitution will never be acceptable to the Naga people.

On the issue of Naga territorial integration, our chief negotiator stated: “The Nagas were divided by the colonial power and placed them under different units for their administrative convenience. The Nagas are the victims of that “divide-and-rule policy.” We are the aggrieved, not the aggressors.” To this, the interlocutor of the government of India concurred, saying that integration of all Naga areas is the legitimate right of the Nagas, to be materialized through political process. It is also mutually agreed that the ownership of land and natural resources including minerals on and below belongs to the Nagas.

Apart from the government and Tatar Hoho, a statutory body that may be called Pan Naga Hoho (PNH) comprising all Naga tribes, wherever they are, will also be established to safeguard and promote Naga identity, integrity, and interests including social, cultural and customary practices, language and dialects of various tribes.

We no longer view the Indians as our enemy in the light of peaceful coexistence. But we cannot sacrifice our national principle for the sake of buying friendship.

Significantly, the Framework Agreement mentions, ‘Co-existence of the two entities sharing sovereign power. ’It means – Indians and Nagas will coexist as two entities on the basis of “equality and mutual respect of rights” as clearly stated by the honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “This Framework Agreement addresses the sovereign rights of the Nagas and their future as well as the security and commercial interests of India.” This historic agreement is seen and appreciated by many international peacemakers as the roadmap to a lasting peace in the Indian sub-continent.

Unfortunately, what has begun with much fanfare is now going the way of “betrayal of trust” because of the lack of sincerity on the part of the Indian government. This has created a huge trust deficit and disillusionment among the people. Friends and critics often said the government of India is playing with time to diminish the hard-earned Framework Agreement. But that will be too costly. The ball is in the court of the Government of India.

The Naga national movement is blessed with a divine presence that no power on earth can uproot it. It is through the mighty name of the Lord that the Naga issue has been salvaged from the devious plots of the adversary time and again. As we repose our faith in God’s grace, we shall handle our “struggle of destination” no matter how daunting the task may be.

Regrettably, the last round of Indo-Naga formal talk that took place on 14th November, 2023 in Delhi is not conclusive but not deadlocked.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *