Friday, December 8, 2023

A year after accord, Naga society divided over effectiveness

By Rupesh Dutta
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS)
The historic Naga Peace Accord has completed one year but ambiguity still looms large over its details. Naga society appears divided over the accord, with some disinterested as the proposal of ‘Greater Nagalim’ has been discarded, while some are pushing for a separate state carved out of Nagaland itself.

Manlang Phom, General Secretary of Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation(ENPO), a stakeholder of the Naga Peace Accord inked in August last year, says he has lost interest in the pact and would rather press ahead for a separate state of Frontier Nagaland.

“I feel our issue — the demand for Frontier Nagaland — is more important. It is better not to comment on the Naga Peace Accord, which again is very sensitive. Too much time has elapsed since the accord was inked,” Phom told IANS on phone.

The ENPO is seeking a new state carved out of four backward eastern districts.

The historic Naga Framework Agreement was signed by the NSCN (IM) and the government on Aug 3, 2015, nearly two decades after negotiations started between the two sides with the aim to end the six-decade-long Naga conflict.

After signing the accord, the Indian government said it would come out with the details in the next six months, but it is yet to do so. The delay is adding to rising differences among the other NSCN factions, whose support is important for the accord to become a success.

General Secretary of NSCN (Unification) Khitovi Zhimomi, whose faction was not part of the accord, said that Nagas of Nagaland were not supporting the peace deal as the NSCN (IM) leader T. Muivah was a “Naga from Manipur” who was merely speaking for his people.

“After the accord was signed, Naga inhabitants in Manipur lighted candles in celebration. But in Nagaland not even a matchstick was lighted. The people in Nagaland are still in the dark about it. How can such an accord be accepted by the people of Nagaland?,” Zhimomi, who runs a “self-styled parallel government” in Nagaland, told IANS.

“We had foreseen the confusion of the deal. My government (self-styled) had declared in the media that if the accord benefits the NSCN (IM) and Naga brothers and sisters living in Manipur, let them have it. Nagas of Nagaland should not be disturbed because they have their own social and political structure,” he added.

P. Tikhak, General Secretary of NSCN (Reformation), which supported the accord, says that delay in conclusion of the pact is a “deliberate act” of the Indian government and the increasing differences of opinion over it was further complicating the situation.

“Uncle Muivah will have to work out a formula with the Indian government as he has already entered into an agreement. In case he is not able to manage that, then it will lead nowhere,” Tikhak told IANS.

NSCN (Reformation) is the first and only faction to openly support the Naga Peace Accord.

According to sources in the Union Home Ministry, if the Naga Peace Accord becomes a reality it will only benefit the NSCN (IM) and its leadership and not the other factions as they did not join the negotiations.

According to the sources, the accord has a clause for creation of a new paramilitary force battalion to absorb the over 4,000 armed cadres of the NSCN (IM). But the cadres of the other factions have been left out.

Chuba Ozukum, President of Naga Hoho, the apex Naga civil society body and a stakeholder of the accord, told IANS: “In a democratic setup there cannot be any consensus, but at the same time the government cannot afford to listen to each and every opinion of the individuals which vary drastically.”

“I am sure there is no Naga who is against the political settlement. Yes, certainly we have different tribal factions and different problems, which is quite common. It is the prerogative of the Indian government to look for a solution,” said Ozukum.

Rosemary Dzuvichu, advisor to the Naga Mothers Association, also a stakeholder in the Naga peace negotiations, said: “The government is quite serious about the negotiation process. We can’t afford to talk about differences in opinions regarding the accord.”

(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at [email protected] )

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