“The soldier must conquer the pain and the melancholy of the passions.” – Napoleon
The Naga peace talks is certainly at a crucial stage but the unilateral abrogation of ceasefire by NSCN (Khaplang) and subsequent aggressive strikes by the militant group has left very few options with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The NSCN (K) had unilaterally announced abrogation of ceasefire with the centre in March 2015 protesting among other things that the government has refuse to talk on Naga sovereignty and integration of Naga contiguous areas.
Subsequently, the end of ceasefire by NSCN(K) has resulted in a series of violent incidents in the northeast lately and in June in a dastardly attack several Dogra regiment personnel were killed in a major ambush in Manipur.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is somehow in a tearing hurry to prove that he is making forward movement in talks with NSCN(IM), now in parleys since 1997 when I K Gujral was the Prime Minister.
The Naga peace talk is a complex issue with a principal demand of Naga groups’ 'unity' of Naga contiguous areas remaining an everlasting hanging fire.
Thus unification of Naga groups or broad agreement amongst them is must for bringing about a solution. But with NSCN(K) walking out of ceasefire and subsequently unleashing an era of violence only have made things more challenging for the Modi-led dispensation.
Such broad agreement will be required to ensure that the Government does not end up creating another Shillong Accord type agreement of 1970s which ultimately led to the split of A Z Phizo-led NNC and creation of a more potent National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
It is in this context the Prime Minister seems to be guided by more sensible way of handling things. Meeting the all-party delegation of Nagaland legislators including Congressmen suggest NSA Ajit Doval despite his hawkish doctrine quite often wants to go steady and slow. In this context the offer from Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang to send a team of emissaries to NSCN(Khaplang) is highly appreciable.
Zeliang in a meeting with the Home Minister Rajnath Singh made his offer which has been rightly welcomed by the Home Minister.
Rajnath conveyed that the Government is committed to finding "an amicable solution to the Naga issue".
"The Naga delegation led by Chief Minister pointed that in the past, the Interlocutors to the Naga Peace Talks were authorised only to talk, but not to thrash out a formula for resolution of the problem.... this time the Naga delegation of state legislators met Home Minister and suggested that the present interlocutor R N Ravi be fully empowered to bring out a formula," a spokesman for the Nagaland government later said.
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Such formula should "form the basis for the consultations" amongst the Naga militant groups and the Naga people as a whole, said the state Parliamentary Working Committee comprising of Speaker Chotisuh Sazo and MLAs from all parties.
The Naga leaders also urged the Home Minister "to try to re-build the ceasefire with NSCN(K)", which walked out of the ceasefire recently. The delegation said the centre should also review its decision of declaring entire Nagaland State as "disturbed area" under the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).
The lack of 'adequate power' for the interlocutors has been an issue vis-a-vis Naga peace talks as earlier too previous government negotiators like Swaraj Kaushal (during Vajpayee regime) and K Padmanabhaiah (during Manmohan Singh government ) had complained over the same.
At present the peace parleys with NSCN (IM) is at crucial stage as 49 out of 72 listed topics have been discussed and cleared, government sources said here. 'However, the crucial issues have not come for discussions yet," sources said while making it clear that the government of India will not hold any talks on Naga sovereignty.
The negotiator R N Ravi perhaps awaits further directives and power to talk.
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In the ultimate even after 18 years of parleys it appears things are at initial stage only. The Modi government is not to be blamed for this. By 2011-12 things were progressing fast and the negotiator R S Pandey had made certain right moves. But Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister hardly had political will and acumen. In the case of Modi, an ambitious man that he is, he is hurry to deliver. He may succeed but bringing in other Naga factions on the negotiating table is must.
Sincerity and hard work actually move things faster towards success.
Otherwise, as they say, failure is part of life. Even when it's sunny, one needs a bit of rain to make a rainbow.