The Isak-Muivah faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM), criticised Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Monday after he said the group was not pursuing “sovereignty” in its discussions with the Centre on a final solution to the Naga Peace talks.
Rijiju is “incompetent” to comment on the talks, the NSCN (IM) said, according to The Assam Tribune. The group blamed Rijiju for “creating a lot of confusion” with his statements and said he was “vitiating the environment of the negotiation”.
For decades, Naga rebel groups have been fighting for a Nagalim, or Greater Nagaland. The Centre has been in talks with NSCN (IM), the largest Naga rebel group, since 1997, when they signed a ceasefire.
In 2015, these talks got a boost after Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a “framework agreement” with the NSCN (IM). While details of the framework agreement have not yet been made public, it is believed to acknowledge the “uniqueness of Naga history and culture” in exchange for NSCN (IM)’s respect for the “primacy of the Indian constitution”.
Following Rijiju’s remarks, the NSCN (IM) issued a statement saying, “When the talk is progressing at the highest level, Mr Rijiju has no business to talk on political issues of which he is ignorant”, the Hindustan Times reported. “It is unbecoming of Mr Rijiju to have made such statements through the local and national media of the ongoing negotiation to which he is incompetent to comment.”
In December, the Nagaland Assembly had asked the Centre to find a solution to end the crisis before state elections in early 2018. In January, various organisations in the state had urged Modi to defer the Assembly elections until a solution is reached. All local political parties in the state had said they will boycott the polls as a show of support to tribal bodies and groups, but the elections were finally held.