No Naga deal yet, October 31 deadline may be extended

Though a final decision on extending the deadline is yet to be taken, security sources did not rule out the possibility.

Guwahati: The ongoing talks between the Prime Minister’s envoy for the Naga talks, Nagaland governor R.N. Ravi, and collective leadership of the NSCN (I-M) led by Th Muivah on Monday remained inconclusive but the chances of thrashing out differences on a separate Naga flag and constitution has brightened with the Centre considering the option of extending the deadline of October 31 for ending the Naga talks.

Though a final decision on extending the deadline is yet to be taken, security sources did not rule out the possibility. “The dialogue between Mr Ravi and the NSCN (I-M) lasted for more than four hours but remained inconclusive, with both sides agreeing to meet again soon. However, a final agreement between the NSCN (I-M) and the government is unlikely to take place by October 31,” security sources said.

In a related development which is seen as an attempt to mount pressure on the NSCN (I-M), the NNPGs (Naga National Political Groups) has asked all the legislators of the state to clarify their stand on contentious issues instead of taking a “neutral” stand.

Asserting that New Delhi was keen on finding a solution to the decades-old problem, the NNPGs, an umbrella organisation of seven insurgent groups, said the elected representatives should clarify their stand as the entire Naga society of Nagaland has been demanding an early solution from the Government of India and
even Nagaland political parties who have been meeting with the Union government to demand an early solution.

Pointing out that the government has responded by deciding to act on the deadline as demanded by Naga legislators and tribal leaders, the NNPGs said elected representatives cannot be mute spectators, and it was time the for political parties in Nagaland to clear their positions in the interest of the Naga people.

Clarifying their stand on a separate flag and constitution for Nagaland, the NNPGs also questioned the stand of the NSCN (I-M), saying: “It is 22 years since the Naga talks are going on. Why did the negotiating parties not address the issue of a separate flag, constitution and integration in the initial years? These issues are raked up in the 20th year of talks that was now threatening to derail 22 years of negotiations between the GoI and NSCN (I-M).”

Referring the tough stand of the NSCN (I-M) on the issue of a separate Naga flag and constitution, the working committee of the NNPGs, which joined the peace process in 2017, said: “This is unfortunate as three months was enough to work on any crisis. Now it could only be seen as a deliberate ploy to keep the Indo-Naga political matters in limbo.”

The NNPGs, which had given their consent to sign the peace accord, said: “Unresolved matters should be decided through a political and democratic process.”

The NNPGs’ statement is more significant in the wake of recent developments, when a senior leader of the NSCN (I-M) , along with 16 others, quit the rebel group, accusing it of being “insensitive” to the people’s demand for an honourable solution to the Naga issue, and joined the NNPG.

Security sources in New Delhi did not, meanwhile, rule out the possibility of the NSCN (I-M) agreeing to sign the Naga accord. “We are holding talks with the NSCN (I-M) leadership and hope to succeed in persuading them to give up the demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution,” said the sources, who are closely monitoring the peace talks.

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