Nagaland in search of peace: Hanging in the balance
Despite the Naga Framework Agreement between the Central Government and Naga groups four years ago, permanent peace in Nagaland remains like a dream. The Central Government had this agreement with the leader of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-NSCN, Isak-Muivah, in which it was also represented by other rebel groups. But there are so many things that only deal with disappointment with this agreement.
Historical Background of Insurgency in Nagaland
In 1826, the British joined Assam in the British Indian Empire and in 1881 Naga Hills became part of it.
Naga National Council (NNC) was formed in 1946 under the leadership of Angami Japu Fizo, which declared Nagaland as ‘an independent state’ on August 14, 1947.
On March 22, 1952, Fizzo formed the ‘Underground Naga Federal Government’ (NFG) and ‘Naga Federal Army’ (NFA).
In order to combat the insurgency, the Government of India implemented the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) under the Army in 1958 and implemented it there.
In 1963, the Naga Hills district of Assam was separated from the state of Nagaland.
On November 11, 1975, a group of NNC leaders met the government to sign the Shillong Agreement , which agreed to leave the weapon.
A group of about 140 members, led by Thingleng Muivah (who was then in China), refused to accept the Shillong Agreement. This group formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980.
After a violent confrontation in 1988, the NSCN was divided and it was divided into ISAK-MOVIA and Khaplong groups.
Khaplong died in time and his faction became weak and most of the rebel groups joined the Isak-Muivah faction.
What are the shortcomings in the Naga Peace Accord?
One of the biggest challenges of the Naga Peace Accord is to be objectiveless and it is beyond the understanding of the local people.
This agreement has not been made public in Nagaland, but there is talk about ‘special arrangement’, due to which there is a situation of suspicion between the government and the rebels.
Issues related to Nagas not only affect the Nag Nagans living in Nagaland, but also all Naga areas, including Nagar settled in Myanmar.
Demand for Nagar -dominated areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and the demand for making Greater Nagalim, will lead to violent clashes.
Demand for a separate Frontier Nagaland or Eastern Nagaland under Eastern Nagaland Public Organization (ENPO) is being sought, which will undermine efforts to make Greater Nagalim.
Another major hurdle in the path of peace process in Nagaland is that there are many organizations present, which claim to be the representative of all the Nagas.
Demand for rebels
At present, NSCN (IM) has abandoned its demand of complete sovereignty and it wants a more autonomous region under the Indian Constitutional framework, which is linked to the singularity and specificity of the traditions. This group speaks of ‘Greater Nagalim’, in which people living in nearby Naga area along with Nagaland are also involved. It includes many districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and a large part of Myanmar.
Why not apply any agreement?
Almost all rebel groups have an armed framework that remains intact even after the ceasefire. Despite no action against these groups, there is no significant reduction in violence nor their resources are decreasing. This threat continues to be a threat to the peace system.
The rebel groups have established their own area of influence in the state, in which each group is running its parallel government and generating huge amount of money from non-residents along with huge amount of money.
There are serious differences between the ISAC-Muivah and Khaplong clans, which is the biggest obstacle in the path of any peace-making agreement.
Politics has played a very big role in destabilizing the region. Political parties use rebel groups to take advantage in the election process and come to power.
The Naga movement, which was run for the purpose, has wandered from its original goals and ideological stance. In such a way, the leaders of major rebel groups can hope for success.
The leader and cadre of Naga groups are now continuing the struggle due to material benefits, which is nothing more than forcible recovery and organized crime.
Often governments use their land without local people’s permission to exploit resources. That is why the faith of tribal groups on government projects is getting reduced.
Despite the completion of the resource, development, employment and basic amenities in the area still remain a distant dream for tribal groups.
Which way to move forward?
The history of Naga conflict shows that most of the agreements have failed because of different interpretations made by different parties at their convenience.
Governments should try to find an overall solution to this problem by getting together, otherwise failure will be repeated again. As a result, new rebel Naga factions will be born, who will do nothing other than raising the problem.
To maintain the rebellion, there is a need to make every effort to effectively stop the availability of resources (weapons and money) from abroad.
Keeping broad understanding on the Naga problem, there is a need to find acceptable and comprehensive solutions in view of the changing aspirations of tribal groups and others.
Another way of dealing with this issue can be maximum decentralization of powers in the tribal groups and minimum centralization at the top level. This will make it easier to make governance oriented and start big development projects.
In North-East India, Nagaland is said to be the focal point of militancy, where extremism has kept its feet since the 1950s. Of course, peace is a major challenge in the state, but in the implementation of any Naga Shanti initiatives, the present regional boundaries of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh should not be threatened, which would not be acceptable to these states. In these states, more autonomy can be provided to Naga populated areas and separate budget allocation can also be done for these areas for their culture and development. If possible, a new body should be formed, which will monitor the rights of the Nagas in other North Eastern states other than Nagaland.
Apart from all this, it is important to take Khaplong faction together while implementing any agreement, only then peace will be established in the northeast of the Nagasis after decades of unrest and violence. If any agreement made with Nagas succeeds in suppressing this oldest armed struggle of the Northeast, the path to solving other ethnic conflicts of the North East may open, including cookie, maiti, Bodo, Dimasa, Hamar and Krabi etc. are included.