Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said it is the right time for the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah faction) to sign the final peace accord as the Narendra Modi government has worked out an “honourable solution”, NDTV reported.
His comments came a week after the NSCN (IM), the largest Naga armed group in talks with the government, released a letter written by its chief Thuingaleng Muivah to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February. In the eight-page letter, Muivah had asked for the Naga peace talks to be shifted to “a third country”.
The final peace talks had hit a rough patch in August after both the sides hardened their positions, with the group committed to its demands for a separate Naga national flag and Constitution. The “informal talks” held in September in New Delhi have also been inconclusive.
Sarma told NDTV that he, along with Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, have conveyed both the sentiments and opinion of the people of North East to the NSCN(IM) leadership to sign the deal. “The Centre is working towards a final solution which goes along the unique history and traditions of the Naga society,” the minister added. “I strongly feel if the Naga leadership wants to sign the accord then this is the right time. I once again appeal to them that they should sign the agreement and lead Nagaland to a durable solution. The entire northeast is looking forward to it.”
Sarma and Rio have been assisting the Centre after a deadlock in the negotiations. The Assam minister added that a solution to the talks should be ideally “inclusive” and NSCN(IM) should spearhead it.
“Why think of a solution without NSCN(IM),” Sarma asked. “After all it was the NSCN(IM) that was in the forefront of the process and I don’t see any reason why NSCN(IM) will not align with the thought process of the Naga civil society, even with the Centre’s thought process. So, I am very confidence that this parleys with NSCN (IM) will eventually be successful.”
The Nagaland government has called for a “consultative meeting” with civil society groups and other stakeholders on October 15 to discuss the peace process.
“All tribal hohos (tribe-based apex traditional bodies), mass-based organisations, civil societies, church organisations, political parties, NGOs, prominent persons, etc., are being invited to discuss the most important issue that our society is presently faced with,” an official statement said.
This is the first time after the Rio came to power in 2018 that such a major meeting is being convened.
“We feel there has been a combination of efforts and thus, there is involvement of politicians, bureaucrats and even civil society; the Centre is involving all whenever necessary on a daily basis to iron out the deadlock,” Sarma said.