Back to square one?
PROMINENT Naga civil societies deciding to forego the much anticipated consultative meeting with Centre’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi will not only pose a serious hurdle to efforts for ironing out all differences before sealing the final deal on the Naga political issue but also manifests that the Naga public are utterly disappointed over continuation of the dialogue process for a protracted period with no sign of any tangible solution in sight. By boycotting the proposed series of consultative meetings with various Naga organisations in Nagaland, the influential Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), United Naga Council (UNC), etc., have demonstrated that the Nagas’ limit of tolerance is not for eternity. As reported, “insincerity of the Government of India and its failure to resolve the long drawn Naga political issue and bring peace” and “show resentment to the Government of India for their insincerity and lack of political will” are the premises for these organisations to boycott the consultative meetings. No doubt, interlocutor Ravi, who is also the architect of the framework agreement that the Union government signed with the NSCN-IM, might hold meetings with other stakeholders as scheduled as the entire Nagas are not necessarily represented by the aforementioned organisations. However, abstention of the four organisations from the Centre’s latest effort to resolve the issue will certainly dilute the very purpose of reaching out to the Naga civil societies for they have been among the most vocal advocates of peace and integration of Nagas. The Naga peace process, Eastern India’s most anticipated political show, has in the past couple of weeks added several important dimensions.
It’s an irony that RN Ravi, who was accorded a massive reception at Dimapur airport in September 2017 when he arrived for the first time in Nagaland to start the consultative process after the framework agreement was signed, is being boycotted for his as well as Centre’s alleged indifference and lack of sincerity to find solution to the Naga issue. Even if it is possible that the CSOs decided to give cold shoulder treatment to the interlocutor as a strategy to pressurise the government and extract a firm assurance from the latter, the dialogue process continuing to take twist and turn must have taken a hard toll on the Naga public, who had hoped that the framework agreement with the NSCN-IM will pave the way for the ultimate solution. Regardless of the Union government describing the pact as a ‘historic accord’, the ground reality suggests there is nothing epochal for the talk process has been expanded and deals signed by various other groups as well. The evolving situation also compels one to wonder why the government drumbeat the agreement and rushed to the media when the solution is nowhere in sight. The case in hand merits cautious approach and involve all stakeholders, that include bringing CSOs of states neighbouring Nagaland to the negotiating table, and as such there seems to be no justification in giving false hope to the Nagas or create anxiety among non-Nagas. As two decades of cessation of armed hostility only led to a ‘framework agreement’, it could be safely concluded that there are many issues that need to be ironed out before a final settlement could be reached.