Final Naga pact to be incorporated in Constitution

R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Feb 12 – The Government of India is not apprehending any major law and order problem during the ensuing State Assembly polls in Nagaland as the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) and working group of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), the umbrella body of six rebel outfits, which are talking with the Centre, have given formal commitment of not interfering with the poll process. Meanwhile, the Government has decided to incorporate the final agreement to be signed with the rebel groups of Nagaland in the Constitution of India to give it formal stamp of approval.Talking to The Assam Tribune, highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that initially the rebel groups had threatened to use their armed wings to impose the call to boycott the polls. But after talks with the Government of India, they softened their stand and gave formal commitment that they would not directly interfere with the election process. However, the rebel groups made it clear that they would not support the elections as they felt that the “election is meaningless”.

Replying to a question as to why the Government decided to go ahead with the elections despite opposition from various quarters, sources said that the Election Commission is duty bound to hold the polls whenever the term of any State assembly expires. In an extraordinary situation, President’s Rule can be imposed in a State, but there is no guarantee that formal agreement with the rebel groups would be signed within six months. Sources said that the issue was discussed at various levels but both the negotiating parties, that is the Government of India and the rebel groups could not give a commitment that the formal agreement would be signed within a specific period of time. Under the circumstances, the Election Commission is duty bound to go ahead with the elections, sources added.

However, sources said that the election and the final solution to the Naga political problem are not interlinked. “Whenever a formal agreement is signed with the Naga rebel groups, the Government is planning to incorporate it in the Constitution of India to give it a formal stamp of approval. Under the circumstances, a new dispensation will definitely take over the powers,” sources pointed out.

On the progress of the talks, sources said that the talks are going on well, but it is difficult to announce a specific date when the formal agreement would be signed. Sources asserted that both the Government and the rebel groups have reached agreements on most of the substantive issues but there are differences on some minor issues and those would have to be addressed. Both the Government and the rebel groups would have to adopt a policy of give and take in the interest of permanent solution of the Naga political issues.

Sources pointed out that the NNPGs joined the peace talks much later and several rounds of formal talks were held with the group. “They have already submitted their charter of demands and barring a few points, the demands of both the NSCN (I-M) and NNPGs are similar in nature. The Government of India has already made it clear that separate agreements would not be signed with different groups and there would be only one final agreement for permanent solution of the Naga political issues. “There is only one peace process in Nagaland and there will be one agreement. That is why efforts are being made to involve all the stakeholders in the process. The Government is still hopeful that the NSCN (K) would join the peace process, but if the outfit decides to stay away, the Government cannot wait for an indefinite period and they would have to be left out of the process,” sources added.

MHA sources also said that the Naga accord, whenever it is signed, cannot be compared with the Assam Accord. The Assam Accord was signed for the detection and deportation of foreigners. But in case of Nagaland, the NSCN (I-M) was not ready to stay with India at the initial stages of discussions and only by signing the framework agreement two years back, the outfit agreed to stay within the Indian federation under true federal structure, sources added.

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