Failure of negotiations could lead to return of ‘horrible human rights situation’, says NSCN-IM

Why is the NSCN-IM alleging that the GoI is backtracking and disowning the Framework Agreement?

Muivah FrameworkAgreement
The NSCN-IM has alleged that the Government of India is trying to “backtrack and disown” the Framework Agreement signed on 3 August 2015 in New Delhi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top NSCN-IM leaders  [Photo: PM Narendra Modi with NSCN -IM General Secretary T Muivah in New Delhi in 2015 (Courtesy: Ajai Shukla
On 10 May, the NSCN-IM issued a statement appealing to all churches to “pray for the Indo-Naga political talks and also for the peace of Nagalim,” (full text here) expressing concerns that the failure of the current negotiations could lead to the return of the “horrible human rights situation in Nagalim.” The NSCN-IM also emphasized the importance of concluding the Indo-Naga political talks ‘honorably’.

In the statement, the NSCN-IM alleged that despite certain commitments, the Government of India is trying to “backtrack and disown the Framework Agreement by creating situations through the agencies of its surrogate Naga factions, opportunists and the neighboring people who are hostile to the cause of the Nagas.”

In a discussion with an NSCN-IM official by MT, it was understood that the main point of contention between the NSCN-IM and the Government of India (GoI) revolves around the concepts of “Shared Sovereignty”.

How ‘Shared Sovereignty’ is perceived

Shimrah, Kharingyo (2016) in his presentation titled “Shared Sovereignty between Indian and Nagalim,” has dived into the viewpoints of both the NSCN-IM and the GoI, represented by Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi then.

Shimrah, a research scholar, in his presentation has said that according to NSCN-IM general secretary Th. Muivah, ‘Shared Sovereignty’ involves both negotiating parties agreeing to share competencies and respect the wishes of the people. This agreement encompasses peaceful co-existence and a mutual understanding of sharing sovereign power.

On the other hand, RN Ravi, representing the GoI, emphasized that shared sovereignty involves more than mere semantics or superficial agreements. Instead, according to Ravi, it involves ‘genuine devolution’, where Nagas would have a significant degree of autonomy, almost akin to sovereignty. This understanding is grounded in the recognition of the “uniqueness of Naga history and culture.”

Shimrah continued that regarding the arrangement for Nagas outside Nagaland state, Ravi has said it would depend on how it was negotiated by both the parties. As for the crucial issue of integration of Naga areas in the North East, Ravi admitted that it still remained in the agenda while adding that it would have to be achieved through a democratic process.

On the relationship between India and Nagas on the basis of shared sovereignty, Ravi reportedly said sovereignty lies with the people and no country was independent but interdependent yet for Nagas, it would be independent and the relationship between India and Nagas would be on the basis of sharing of sovereign power.

According to political scientists, the concept of “Shared Sovereignty” although not new is continually evolving in political science. Hence, NSCN-IM leader Muivah’s assertion in an interview with senior journalist Karan Thapar, that, “for the unique Naga political issue, the solution must be unique,” holds significance. The NSCN-IM in its 10 May statement has also reiterated that the Government of India has officially recognized the uniqueness of Naga history.

The blockade

However, since the signing of the Framework Agreement on 3 August 2015, there has been disagreement between the NSCN-IM and GoI regarding ‘Separate Constitution’ and ‘Separate Flag’.

According to Shimrah (2016), the characteristic of Shared Sovereignty includes: Separate constitution, Separate flag, Separate parliament, Separate judiciary (Supreme Court), Separate president and Prime Minister, Separate national Anthem, Dual citizenship/separate passport right, Separate currency, Separate UN representation, Separate Embassies, Separate service cadres and intelligence, joint defense and military, Joint external affairs and communication, and Constitutional arrangement between two or more nations.

Talking to MT, an NSCN-IM official explained that the Framework Agreement (FA) being a “framework” is yet to be fully fleshed out. Therefore, their initial demand under the FA is a “Separate Constitution” and “Separate Flag” which the GoI could not accept.

On this matter, the NSCN-IM on its 10 May statement maintained that ‘Separate Constitution’ and ‘Separate Flag’ are fundamental to discussions of sovereignty stating, “We cannot talk of sovereignty apart from these basic ingredients.”

“The Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) agree that sovereignty is with the people and therefore, sovereignty of the Nagas is with the Naga people,” the NSCN-IM said in its 10 May statement. It insisted that “Coexistence of the two entities (Nagas and Indians) sharing sovereign power has also been agreed upon.” But in spite of all these commitments and agreements, the NSCN-IM alleged that the Government of India is trying to backtrack and disown the Framework Agreement.

When queried by MT regarding what characteristics the sovereignty will be shared according to FA, the NSCN-IM official disclosed that there would be some ‘joint competency’ with the government of India without divulging further details.

The NSCN-IM official believed that India cannot “completely separate without any relationship with the Nagas.” The official acknowledged that many innocent Nagas and political groups hope for complete sovereignty, but the official expressed pessimism that no group can bring a solution beyond the Framework Agreement. “If any group can bring higher than FA, it will be a miracle. Nagas must worship them,” the official added.

Mokokchung Times

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