Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM Sunday said that the integration of all the Naga inhabited areas in the northeast was an integral part of the ongoing peace talks with the central government. In a statement which is likely to ruffle feathers in the northeast, the rebel group asserted that the NSCN-IM and the Centre have agreed and recognised that integration of all the contiguous Naga areas is the legitimate right of the Naga people.
“The issue of integration of all the Naga territories is an integral part of the ongoing Indo-Naga political dialogue,” it said.
The NSCN-IM, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for the Nagas, said the territories of the community have been kept apart “arbitrarily and indiscriminately” by the British and then further divided between Burma (now Myanmar) and India, when Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister, without knowledge and consent of the Naga people which is “totally unacceptable”.
“Just as there cannot be a kingdom without territory, so the Indo-Naga political talks sans integration of all the contiguous Naga areas will be a futile exercise,” the group said. In recognition of the Nagas’ history and situation as unique by the central government, the “framework agreement” of the August 3, 2015 was signed between the Centre and the NSCN-IM, it said.
“Both the parties agreed and recognised that integration of all the contiguous Naga areas is the legitimate right of the Naga people and it is mutually agreed that it will be pursued through earnest political democratic process,” the statement said.
The NSCN-IM’s key demand to integrate Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur has been strongly opposed by the three BJP-ruled states.
Seeking to allay concerns of the three northeastern states, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced on December 8, 2017 that the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur would not be compromised while inking the final Naga peace accord.
The NSCN-IM also slammed Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for his recent reported statement that integration of the Naga inhabited areas was not possible.
Rio, however, denied making any such statement.
The NSCN-IM also said after 21 years of negotiations, India and the Naga people are prepared to finalise the political dialogue to its logical conclusion and resolve the oldest political problem in the entire South East Asia.
“At this crucial juncture, any attempt to undermine or disturb the peace process without being able to make head or tail of the negotiation shall no longer be tolerated,” it said.
A framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and the government’s interlocutor R N Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India’s independence in 1947.