The Modi government has asserted in no uncertain terms that the delay in signing Peace pact in Nagaland was not due to the Centre but because of the delay strategies of other stakeholders.
“We did not delay…when did we delay? The Govt of India is ready to sign the peace pact even today,” the delegation of Nagaland ministers and legislators were told on Monday during their meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
At the crucial meeting, the Nagaland Core Committee on political issue led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio reportedly maintained “We cannot face elections and the people of Nagaland without a solution”.
This plea of the Naga delegation was countered by the Centre – “We did not delay…” — they said.
The delay in peace parleys is generally attributed to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) for raising the twin demands of Naga Flag and a separate Naga Constitution since post October 2019. On this, sources say the Naga leaders were told once again that — “What cannot be given, cannot be given today, tomorrow or day after”.
The Government of India has earlier maintained that the peace talks had ended by October 31, 2019 and the issues of Flag and Constitution were raised by NSCN-IM leaders only as an ‘afterthought’.
The Naga peace talks had begun during the stint of I K Gujral as Prime Minister and among others former Nagaland Chief Minister S C Jamir (91), also a former Governor of Gujarat, has said that “All issues have been discussed and finalised since 2019 and now we are only waiting for an agreement and final solution pact”.
The state leaders have been advised to meet up NSCN-IM leaders at the earliest and it was also stressed that everyone should be ‘pragmatic’. The veiled reference is to Thuingaleng Muivah, NSCN-IM general secretary, who is often alleged to have been ideologically influenced by communist influence of the Chinese leaders.
The Core Committee was told that “stubbornness” of any individual or two underground leaders should be given up and discouraged.
Nagaland Chief Minister Rio, who heads a coalition wherein BJP is a partner, tweeted about the deliberations and wrote: “….Once again, we urged the GoI to expedite the protracted negotiations on the issue and bring about an early and honourable solution”.
“We have a deadline of our own….In the national interest, the media need not know more,” one source said.
There were attempts by some quarters in Nagaland to blame the Centre for the ‘delay’ in signing the peace pact and wash off their hands. The move has now backfired as the Centre has made it clear that the ball is in the court of NSCN-IM.
The pro-solution umbrella group of seven militant groups Naga National Political Group (NNPG) led by N Kitovi Zhimomi is keen to sign a final peace deal.
Last week the Naga delegation led by Chief Minister Rio met new peace emissary A K Mishra in Delhi. A new set of Formulation Papers has been given by the Centre to the NSCN-IM with a ‘set of old and new offers’.
Obviously, the focus is now on ‘convincing’ the NSCN-IM to ink the final peace pact