The Centre on Friday night dismissed the demand of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) for a separate flag and Constitution, and said the insurgent group was delaying peace negotiations, PTI reported.

“Unfortunately at this auspicious juncture, the NSCN-IM has adopted a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement raising the contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and constitution on which they are fully aware of the Government of India’s position,” Naga talks interlocutor and state’s Governor RN Ravi said. He added that endless negotiations cannot be held with the insurgent group under the shadow of guns.

Ravi said that the central government was determined to conclude the decades-long peace process without delay. He added that a mutually agreed draft comprehensive settlement was ready for inking the final agreement between the Indian government and the rebels.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have said that they believe in only one flag and one Constitution for India. On August 5, the government abrogated the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, following which the state flag and constitution ceased to exist.

NSCN(IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and Ravi had signed the framework agreement in the presence of Modi on August 3, 2015. In his statement on Friday, Ravi said some NSCN(IM) leaders through various media platforms were misleading the people with “absurd assumptions and presumptions” about what they have signed with the Government of India.

Ravi held a meeting with primary stakeholders in Naga society in Kohima on Friday. The meeting was attended by the top leadership of all 14 Naga tribes in Nagaland, as well as the minority non-Naga tribes, the Nagaland Gaon Burha Federation, the Nagaland Tribes Council, church leaders and civil society groups. At the meeting, Ravi shared the framework agreement signed between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM).

The Centre’s statement said that it expects all negotiating parties to accept the will of the people, and facilitate conclusion of the Naga peace process within the stipulated time. Ravi said that the Government of India under the leadership of Modi has been determined to conclude the negotiations, which have been going on for 22 years. As a result, the Naga peace process has become truly inclusive and has reached the conclusion stage, Ravi added.

On September 12, the NSCN(IM) said that the Naga community will not merge with the Union of India, but will coexist with India as two entities. It also called upon the Nagas to “seize the opportunity” for a solution to the Indo-Naga political problem.

“The Nagas will not merge into the Union of India, but they will co-exist with the Union of India as two entities,” a press release from the NSCN(IM) said. “Nagas are a recognized entity. Nagas do not accept Indian Constitution, but Nagas and Indians will share sovereign powers based on competencies.”

The Indian government had signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN(IM) in 1997. In 2015, the Centre and the rebel group began negotiations for a solution. However, a joint team of the Assam Rifles and the Indian Army destroyed three NSCN(IM) camps in June 2018, during an operation in Motongsa village of Arunachal Pradesh.

In July last year, the Centre informed a Parliamentary panel that it signed a framework agreement with the rebel group, after it agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a “special status”.

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