Will the Naga Peace Accord ensure peace in the region? For the answer we shall need to wait. The ‘historic’ pact was inked at 7 RCR, the official residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, on the 3rd of August in the presence of top NSCN-IM leaders, including its founding leaders Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and the BJP president Amit Shah.
While the details of the agreement are awaited still, it should be noted here that the agreement is being signed with NSCN (IM), which is the biggest rebel group. Another faction led by SS Khaplang, continue to oppose the deal and engage in violence still. A disagreement relating to the dialogue with the government led to the NSCN breaking into two parts in April 1988. To be noted here is that the NSCN seeks to establish a Sovereign State by unifying all the Naga-inhabited areas in the North East of India and Northern Burma which the organization and the people of the area proposed as Nagalim.
History of Accords in Nagaland
Nagaland till date have had four accords signed with the government of India (including the one signed yesterday). None of the accords signed in 1947, 1960, 1975 yet have been able to bring forth peace in a lasting manner. In fact the NSCN was formed in 1980 to oppose the Shillong Accord signed in 1970. A brief look into the accords, is needed to understand the historicity of the conflict.-
The 1947 accord, popularly known as the Nine Point Agreement or the Naga-Akbar Hydari Accord, 1947 (Akbar Hydari was the governor of Assam then. Assam included Nagaland in 1947.) was signed on the verge of Indian independence, wherein the Naga leaders wanted to have an independent entity of their own.
As the British felt that granting independence to Nagaland was not a viable option then, owing to already existing Indo-Pak division, an agreement was signed by the then governor of Assam State, Akbar Hydari, and Naga National Council (NNC) according to which the Nagas had the ability to “develop themselves according to their freely expressed wishes” . During that phase, it was agreed upon that the ‘responsibility of ensuring the implementation of the accord for a period of 10 years lay with the Assam governor. At the end of 10th year, the Naga Council was to decide, whether they wanted to continue with the same accord should they not be able to arrive at an amicable decision’
However a section of the Naga Council rejected this agreement as it did not state ‘independence from the Indian state’ in the clause. The government wanted Nagas to be governed under sixth schedule and were ready to include adjustments if needed, but were not ready to grant them complete independence. Thus the 1947 accord failed and the Nagas declared Independence Day a day before the Indian Independence.
The Sixteen-Point Agreement, 1960
The 1960, after a process of three consecutive years of conventions, in Nagaland, the Moderate Nagas drafted a 16 point agreement which was signed with the GoI. It led to the emergence of Nagaland State and highlighted that the Ministry of External Affairs would be responsible for governing Nagaland. However it was rejected by the Nagaland National Council, as it did not solve the core issues of self-determination.
The Shillong Accord, 1975
The Shillong Accord, 1975 was signed by the governor of Nagaland and various underground organizations. It highlighted that, the representatives agreed to surrender and accept the supremacy of the Indian constitution without any conditions. However the modalities of the surrender were to be worked out later and signed in different agreement. The Nagaland National Council, which was not even recognized as signatory rejected the agreement.
Rejecting the agreement, in 1980 the National socialist council of Nagaland (NSCN) was formed, wherein they started advocating for a larger ‘Nagalim’ or greater Nagaland, combining the Naga inhabited areas in and outside Nagaland. In 1997, a unilateral ceasefire by the Isaak Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) against security forces in Nagaland and Manipur States preceded a ceasefire agreement between the Indian Government and the NSCN-IM. The government agreed not to conduct operations against militants, except for patrolling the international and state borders, and the militants agreed not to raid, kill, extort, kidnap, or disrupt normal life in any way. In 2001, the territorial scope of the ceasefire was extended to include all Naga inhabited areas of the Northeast.
While the details of the 2015 accord are being awaited, speculations are rife, that it would probably include the recognition of the Indian constitution as supreme. The question on what is being decided on the ‘self-determination’ question is being awaited.
Peace and Accord-End Note
While the accords have been able to pause violence temporarily, it has not been able to bring peace in a sustained manner. The base of the accord, have throughout the decades remained the same, while signatories have changed. Moreover, till yet an all accepting accord has not been drafted yet. The self-determination of ‘independence’ question has always been not dealt with seriously.
While the Indian Administration might not have been the direct cause of the Naga Movement, the counter movements and the use of repression over the years have led to increase in the intensity of conflicts.
Hopefully the 2015 agreement, deals with all the conflicting questions in a serious manner and is able to bring forth lasting peace in the region. It is still to be noted that the Khaplang faction still not a party to the agreement. Moreover, if the deal leads to redrawing of maps, as demanded by the NSCN, it might lead to further increased violence, according to experts. But for the details, we will have to wait. As we will have to see if the Accord proves to be truly historic and is able to bring peace.
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