After 18 long years and more than 60 rounds of negotiations, the vexed Naga peace process finally arrived to a landmark deal with the signing of a formal accord between the NSCN(IM) and the Government of India on Monday.
While there is paramount joy in Nagaland, many are sceptical whether this accord will bring an end to Asia’s longest running insurgency. Since neither New Delhi nor the NSCN(IM) leadership had spelt out the finer details of the accord, politicians, civil society and even other Naga militant factions including the arch rival NSCN(K) have refrained from making comments except to welcome the news.
Barring the Mizo Accord, not too many peace accords — like the Assam Accord and the Bodoland Accord — could bring lasting peace. On Monday evening, hopes were high, but there are still issues that need to be resolved. The accord comes exactly 40 years after the Shillong Accord was signed with the Naga National Council (NNC). A group of leaders who were opposed to the accord immediately started the NSCN. But over the years, the group witnessed several slipts and some factions may not accept this as a ‘Naga’ accord. They are likely to demand separate talks with New Delhi.
If what Ministry of Home Affairs sources are saying to Deccan Herald is true that this accord is a “soft deal”, it is broadly seen as no change in territorial boundaries. It would mean that the NSCN(IM) has also given up its long standing demand of a Greater Nagaland – encompassing Naga areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. All the other states barring Nagaland is opposed to the idea. If sources are to be believed, NSCN (IM) has given up their core demand apart from accepting the Indian constitution and there by giving up the call for Naga sovereignty once for all. For the Nagas, the biggest takeaway is that the Centre has accepted their unique history, culture and position. They are likely to get more autonomy. In Manipur, the Nagas’ demand for an alternative political arrangement is likely to take a new turn.