The never ending war

It is a never-ending war for Thuingaleng Muivah even in seeking peace and resolution.

Resolution somehow seems to elude the dream of NSCN-IM supremo Thuingaleng Muivah, at the last minute. He has been negotiating with the Government of India through interlocutors since 1997 and still there is no end in sight. The secret parleys began in 1995, when the then Prime Minister PV Narisimha Rao met Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu in Paris on June 15.

The then Home Minister Rajesh Pilot again met them in Bangkok in November 1996. Several Prime Ministers including HD Devegowda and Atal Behari Vajpayee also met them at various locations outside the country secretly, besides scores of Intelligence and top officials of the Home Ministry, till it became official on June 14, 2001 when the then interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah signed the controversial ceasefire ‘without territorial limits’ with the NSCN-IM leaders. Manipur took exception to the term ‘without territorial limits’ as it was linked with Muivah’s dream of a Greater Nagaland which seeks to bring in contiguous areas inhabited by Nagas in the neighbouring states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh under a single administrative unit called Nagalim along with the state of Nagaland.

After intense agitation in Manipur, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government backtracked on the Bangkok agreement and limited the ceasefire to the state of Nagaland only. It was not only Manipur, but both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh also protested against the agreement. That was Thuingaleng Muivah’s first tactical defeat.

In fact, the first interlocutor was former Governor of Mizoram Swaraj Kaushal. He was followed by K Padmanabhiah, RS Pandey and lastly the present Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi, a former IB official.

In between, several ideas of resolution of the vexed Naga problems like the Sami model, Supra state and Pan Naga Hoho were floated. It was after RN Ravi took over, a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, to arrive at a political solution to the vexed Naga issue. Five years later, not everything seems to be going the way it was envisaged. Rather, it seems that the main signatory, NSCN (I-M), may be aiming for a change of interlocutor for the accord. Lately, going by statements issued by both NSCN (I-M) and the governor-cum-interlocutor, the unease between the two seem to have come out in the open. On June 16, Ravi had written a three-and-a-half-page letter to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphu Rio asserting his powers under Article 371A of the constitution, proposing that henceforth important law and order decisions like the transfer and posting of officials entrusted with maintenance of law and order will be after the approval of the governor. The reason cited for that suggestion was the “unrestrained depredations by over half a dozen organised armed gangs, brazenly running their respective so-called ‘governments’, challenging the legitimacy of the state government without any resistance from the state law and order machinery” and “creating a crisis of confidence in the system”. The governor was referring to taxation of residents in the state levied by the NSCN (I-M) and some other groups on a monthly basis.

There is much more than the controversial letter. Since coming over as state Governor, RN Ravi had successfully isolated NSCN-IM from the other ‘Naga National Political Groups’ who desires to limit the resolution of the Naga problem in the state of Nagaland only.

The NNPG do not want any friction with the Meitei or Kuki underground. It is rather interesting that, whenever a possible solution of the NSCN-IM talks is in winds, Kuki CSOs will be up in arms and begin reminding the Prime Minister and Central Government of the ‘Quit Notice’ served to Kuki villages in the 90s and the Naga-Kuki ethnic clashes which followed leading to the deaths of several Kukis and Naga civilians. This always puts a spanner in the works.

Now, as speculations of a resolution on August 15 are doing the rounds, Kuki CSOs are once again playing the same music that the Kuki problem should be first addressed before any agreement with NSCN-IM. So, it is a never-ending war for Thuingaleng Muivah even in seeking peace and resolution.

First Published:Aug. 12, 2020, 12:01 a.m.