Even if the exact time-frame for inking of the final agreement has not been set, there are significant developments that have taken place since the end of all negotiations between the Government of India and Naga groups. Over the last few weeks, the Government of India’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks and current Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi seems to have achieved what most of his predecessors could not. He can now be credited for literally removing all stumbling blocks that could have punctured the 22-year-old process of political negotiations.
What is even more significant is the way he goes about exuding confidence on sealing the pact without foreseeable hiccups. On Thursday, while addressing the Tokhü Emong festival held in Wokha, Ravi not only pointed out that the Nagas were embarking on a “new era of peace, unity and prosperity” but also appealed for reconciliation between armed groups by overcoming ‘bitterness and bad memories of the past” and asked them to come together in the “spirit of forgive and forget”. The appeal made by the Governor of Nagaland was not new but he definitely seems to carry more credence than the long years of efforts made by the Nagaland-based Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR).
It may be recalled that the FNR made honest and fervent efforts to bring all the armed Naga groups together in the spirit of oneness. Now, Ravi has successfully strengthened the same efforts from where the FNR left. This can be critically digested if one closely reads the statement issued by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim or the NSCN (I-M) on the same day Ravi was addressing the people who came to participate in the Tokhü Emong, The NSCN (I-M)’s statement too appealed all the other Naga groups “to get on board the bus of Framework Agreement” and be a part of the final solution in the greater interests of the people, peace and progress. The NSCN (I-M) reiterated that it has “forgiven the past mistakes of our brothers and sisters in different camps” and asked the other groups to “forgive our past mistakes and be reconciled”.
In essence, there seems to be no difference between what Ravi had stated and the message conveyed by the NSCN (I-M) with specific reference to the ways and means of ending not only the protracted Naga issue but also resolving factional contradictions considered impossible earlier. Without holding back, the group led by Thuingaleng Muivah and Q Tuccu has appealed all Nagas to be equally prepared as the Government of India is ready to forge ahead with the final Naga pact on the basis of the Framework Agreement.
With negotiations over contentious issues coming to an end on October 31, the NSCN (I-M), the Working Committee (WC) of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) and Government of India have agreed that the demand for “separate Naga flag and constitution” would be pursued through peaceful political process in the aftermath of signing the agreement. One can only hope and pray that the latest development in the Naga issue does not set “neighbourly” complications into negative motion.