New Delhi: Naga insurgent group NSCN(IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, announced earlier this week that the government of India has accepted the demand for greater Nagaland, creating ripples in Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh.
The announcement comes a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the framework of agreement signed between the government of India and NSCN(IM) contains nothing against the interest of Manipur.
However, the Centre on Friday strongly refuted as "erroneous" the reports that it has agreed to carve out a larger Nagaland state, saying no such decision has been taken.
A home ministry spokesperson said some reports have appeared recently to the effect that the government of India
has agreed to carve out a larger Nagaland state by taking away territories of states contiguous to Nagaland.
"Such reports are erroneous. It is clarified that there is no such agreement or decision by the government of India," the spokesperson said.
While addressing his cadres on ‘38th Republic Day’ held on Wednesday, Muivah said, "The historic ‘Framework of Agreement’ recognises the unique history, the identity, the sovereignty, the territories of the Nagas. It also recognises the legitimate right of the Nagas to the integration of all Naga territories."
Muivah’s statement has hit the realm of discord in the region which rises from the demand of the NSCN(IM) to integrate vast areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to create a greater Nagaland.
The framework of agreement, that is kept a closely guarded secret by the Centre has been one of the major talking point among the political parties and the people in Manipur in the last assembly election.
The Congress played upon the fear in Manipur by claiming that the BJP-led NDA at the Centre has compromised the territorial integrity of Manipur in its pact with NSCN(IM).
On the other hand, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a rally ruled out such fear raised and counterclaimed that the ruling Congress in the state has paid money to the United Naga Council to impose economic blockade and thus create tension to reap political benefit.
But the recent claim made by Muivah is seen as a turnaround of the vexed Naga issue and has resulted in protests on the streets of Assam.
The Pioneer reported that many organisations in Assam, especially in the districts adjacent to Nagaland on Friday protested on the streets.
“Several students’ organisations took to the streets in Golaghat and Charaideu district on Friday and burnt effigies of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal demanding to make his stand clear on the bilateral framework agreement between NSCN(IM) and government of India," the report said.
Talking to Firstpost, the All Assam Students' Union leader Dipankar Nath told Firstpost, "We want a peaceful solution to the problems faced by the Nagas, but that cannot be at the cost of the territorial integrity of Assam. We will not leave an inch of our land."
He also demanded that the Centre should make the framework of agreement public.
On the other hand, many in Manipur take the statement issued by Muivah as provocative.
Elangbam Johnson, president of United Council of Manipur told Firstpost, "He may not find his view provocative, but for us it is. He has been issuing such statements for a long time. But the government of India has maintained silence on this issue. So we do not find any reason to react."
He also said that Muivah’s views may be aimed at re-asserting his position as the leader of the NSCN(IM). Muivah was recently re-elected as the General Secretary of the NSCN(IM).
The issue of the Naga peace talks gained momentum after BJP attained power in Manipur, as it was the last stakeholder state of the Naga peace talks, where BJP formed the government after Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
KJ Singh, former Western Army commander wrote in an article published in The Indian Express that new BJP-led state governments in the northeastern states provide the Centre with the opportunity to solve the vexed Naga issue.
"There is a BJP government in Assam, Arunachal and now in Manipur. There is a friendly dispensation in Nagaland. Contrast this with the times when the first Naga peace interlocutor preferred Bangkok to Kohima; he first visited Nagaland while he accompanied Isak Swu and T Muivah on their return from exile," he said.
Adding that there can be no better alignment than the present to unravel this knotty problem, Singh said, "The requirement is to convince the group to modify its demand for sovereignty and Nagalim by accepting the existing state boundaries in the region. A statutory Naga Tribal Council could be considered to safeguard the interests of Nagas outside Nagaland."
The framework agreement was signed on 3 August 2015 by Muivah and the government's interlocutor RN Ravi in presence of Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed.
"The pact had set the political parameters of the final solution," officials said.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Mar 25, 2017 10:21 pm | Updated Date: Mar 25, 2017 10:21 pm