NNPGs ready to conclude talks: Kitovi

DIMAPUR, 7th Oct: Against the backdrop of government of India mulling to conclude the ongoing Peace Talks with the Naga Political Groups (NPGs), the Working Committee (WC) of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) convenor, N Kitovi Zhimomi, has categorically stated that WC was ready to conclude the talk.
In an exclusive interview to Nagaland Post, Kitovi, who is also the ato kilonser of GPRN/NSCN pointed out that tribal hohos and civil society organisations based in Nagaland have expressed the desire for early solution.
Excerpts of the interview
NP: What is the status of WC of NNPGs’ Talk with Government of India?
KITOVI: We started the negotiation since the last part of 2017 and so far we have had 52 rounds of negotiations. We have completed every issue and no issue has been left out. We are ready to conclude the Talk.
NP: What is the primary demand of NNPGs?
KITOVI: Nagas have been demanding sovereign independence and our initial demand has been that. However, government of India has made it very clear that it cannot afford to recognise Naga sovereign independence at this given situation. Keeping this in mind, we have agreed that this issue shall continue through democratic approach and that we will go for what is good and possible at the moment. We are demanding only the practical and good, with clear conscience, that anything that we are agreeing today will certainly benefit our people though it is not sovereign independence.
NP: Does your demand include territorial integration of all Naga inhabited areas?
KITOVI: This was also discussed initially but as we know, the government of India is not in a position to disintegrate neighbouring states to integrate Nagaland state. So, we have mutually agreed that territorial issue would be kept open and continued through democratic political process. It has not been totally ruled out by government of India, and we have not given up also.
NP: If both the demands of sovereignty and territorial integration are to be continued after signing the final agreement, will NNPGs continue the negotiation or pass on the baton?
KITOVI: We should not call it a final agreement but term it a solution. Final agreement will depend on Naga people. The aspirations for sovereignty and territorial integration should be continued through democratic process by the Naga people. The issue is still kept open but it should be continued without any arm struggle, intimidation and threats. It can be achieved through mutual understanding and with maximum trust.
At present, Manipur state government has taken a strong position that not even an inch of Manipur state territory would be compromised, tomorrow they may not say that.
Whether there will be any territorial integration will depend on the Nagas and on how we deal with our neighbouring people, one day they may not object to Nagas wanting to live under one single political umbrella. We can create such situation only through democratic approach.
NP: There is a wide perceptive that NNPGs are only negotiating for Nagas living in the state of Nagaland. What do you have to say on this?
KITOVI: These are all the handiworks of some wishful thinkers, they are spreading rumours. How can we ignore our people living outside the state of Nagaland?
We have demanded extension of special provision under Article 371 (A) to all Naga inhabited areas. For Nagas living in Manipur, Article 371 (C) has clearly enshrined that there shall be a hill council for tribal people, but so far this has not been implemented. We have raised our concern to government of India on Article 371 (C) and have deliberated on it.
Our demand is for separate Regional Territorial Council of Manipur and Regional Territorial Council of Arunachal Pradesh. Nagas living in Manipur and Arunachal should have the power to legislate according to their customary practices and procedures, which government in both the states should not object but adopt it. As of Assam, the same is not applicable at this point in time.
RTC of both Manipur and Arunachal will have separate constituency to send representatives to both the houses (Lok and Rajya Sabha) of Indian Parliament.
NP: You said NNPGs are demanding RTC for Nagas living in Manipur and Arunachal. As you know, Nagas living in the state of Nagaland have Article 371 (A), so what are your demands for Nagas living in this state?
KITOVI: Article 371 (A) is good for Naga people, but it is good for nothing since we are restricted to implement 371 (A) in toto.
Article 371 Clause C has provision for the people living in the Hill Areas. However, we have not seen any functioning of these provisions.
NP: You said that NNPGs is ready for solution. NSCN (I-M) have been negotiating for over 22 years without a solution. What made NNPGs come to a concluding stage of Talks in just two years?
KITOVI: There is no problem which cannot be solved. Every problem should be solved through its formula. And, to solve Naga problem we have to be realistic and pragmatic. Why two years, it could have been solved even within two weeks. However, until and unless we allow ourselves to be practical, the solution will evade us. What 22 years, it will go on even for 220 years but the problem will remain unsolved unless we are practical.
NP: Government of India position is “One Peace Process, One Solution”. However, both GoI and NSCN (I-M) have admitted that the Talk has stalled due to “differing positions” concerning latter’s demand for separate Naga national Flag and Constitution. As such, how do you envisage concluding the Talk?
KITOVI: Whatever is possible today will be possible tomorrow, and what is not possible and practical today may find problems later on, so it won’t make any sense to continue the struggle till that time.
14 tribes of Nagaland state, Nagaland GBs Federation and Nagaland Joint Christian Forum have all come out for early solution. They have made their demand clear that whatever is possible and agreed should be completed, and in case of any unresolved issue the matter may continue at the later stage. There is no problem for Nagas of Nagaland in solving the issue.
There may be some problem between government of India and NSCN (I-M) but it must not hamper the Nagas of Nagaland. Government of India has clearly stated that integration of Naga inhabited areas is not possible at this point in time.

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