Public must stay vigilant as Naga peace talks may conclude in September: COCOMI

As the NSCN (I-M) has been demanding integration of Naga inhabited areas of the neighbouring states in Northeast India, the people of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh which are not part of the agreement have been highly apprehensive of the talks.

The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has appealed to the public to stay vigilant as the peace talk between the Government of India (GOI) and the NSCN (I-M) which has been going on for the past 23 years may conclude in September.

Jeetendra Ningomba, assistant media coordinator COCOMI in a statement said that the peace talk initially appeared to be going on smoothly with trust and consensus between the NSCN-IM and GOI since the signing of Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015. However, the two parties have started interpreting the agreement differently, it stated.

As the NSCN (I-M) has been demanding integration of Naga inhabited areas of the neighbouring states in Northeast India, the people of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh which are not part of the agreement have been highly apprehensive of the talks, the release stated. 

Even though NSCN (I-M) has made public the content of the framework agreement, the government of India has not made an official statement so far which is unacceptable, it stated. If the statements issued by the NSCN (I-M) are true, then the government of India must make an official statement to the public as well, it stated.

For the same reason, the people of Manipur have been demanding transparency in the Framework Agreement, it stated. The peace talk was supposed to end on October 31, 2019; however, it got postponed. It was then stated that it will conclude on August 15 but postponed till September, it added.

The Centre has also stated several times that the peace talks will end by September with various Naga bodies urging to reach a conclusion.

The people of Manipur are absolutely not against bringing a conclusion to the peace talk. However, the conclusion must remain within Nagaland, COCOMI stated. It must not affect the communal harmony of the people living in Manipur, it added. 

COCOMI, representing the people of Manipur had a meeting with the union home minister, Manipur chief minister and education minister at New Delhi regarding the matter on November 25, 2019, it stated. An assurance was given by the Home minister that if the conclusion of the peace talk goes against the consensus of that particular meeting held on November 25, the public will be informed in advance and invited again for further deliberation on the matter, it added.

The assurance was given before chief minister of Manipur, Education minister as well as the minister of state for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, it further stated.

COCOMI representing the people of Manipur categorically stated that the government of India must not entertain the demands of NSCN (I-M) for merging the Naga inhabited areas of Manipur with others. The Indian government must not encourage any arrangements for creation of a pan Naga cultural body/province/territorial council and administrative set up based on ethnic lines or divisions, it stated. It should not include any such points which would lower down the dignity of Manipur Assembly and any separate body should be given the power to dictate the assembly. The decision of the people has not changed, it added.

September has already begun with no official intimation whatsoever about the peace talks to the civil bodies in the state, it stated. The civil bodies should not be called upon at the last minute when the integrity of Manipur is at stake.

Representatives from the centre must come to Manipur before the talks reach a conclusion and the status of the talks must be informed to the civil bodies of the state so that feedback can be collected, COCOMI stated.

It stated that if the central government forcefully works against the wishes of the people of Manipur, COCOMI is fully prepared with the general public to take up the required measures. The state government must also be prepared to join hands with the public for protection of Manipur, it added.

First Published:Sept. 2, 2020, 11:40 p.m.