After the Home Ministry directed the Assam Rifles to launch operations against NSCN(IM) – in states neighbouring Nagaland that are not under the ambit of the ceasefire agreement – the insurgent group accused the centre of being “insincere” in its efforts to find a permanent solution to the seven-decade-old conflict and cautioned against testing its patience.
The Naga insurgent group said “consequences could be disastrous” for both sides and claimed that the centre’s directive to intensify operations against its cadres had come as a rude shock.
“In such a situation NSCN(IM) members cannot allow themselves to be sitting ducks. Our patience should not be translated as weak and helpless. Consequences will be disastrous for both parties. This is never in the interest of the ceasefire across Naga areas,” the group said in its statement.
The NSCN(IM) also said the Naga people’s “sincere approach” and search for a permanent peace agreement had been touted time and again to suit the Indian government’s “colonial divide and rule policy”, and that this reflected in the peace talks with the centre.
The NSCN(IM) said the signing of a Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015, to find a permanent solution, was a “living document” to guide both sides to a final solution.
The group’s statement also said that the Nagas had come this far in search of a peaceful solution, and it was important now that the centre exercise political will to push for a final deal. “But the Government of India still continues to waver. This is a sign of weakness and insincerity,” the group alleged.
There have been reports that the dialogue between the NSCN(IM) and the centre’s representatives is making no particular headway. Talks have been stuck over demand for a separate flag and constitution for Nagaland – both have been rejected by the centre.
Referring to the directive to the Assam Rifles, the NSCN(IM) said the Naga political issue could not be undermined in such a manner that contradicts “well-established historical and political rights” of people spread across Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and even Myanmar.
“The political right of the Naga people is no longer an issue that necessitate(s) any review,” the group said, adding that the Framework Agreement was a symbol of its desire to live peacefully.
“However, this has not been reciprocated with the correct political steps,” the group claimed.
The NSCN(IM) asked the centre to handle this situation with “great sensitivity and not prod security forces and other agencies to run amok”.
The Framework Agreement, which was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came after more than 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years.
The first breakthrough was made in 1997, when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland that started soon after India’s independence.