Modi wants final agreement in Nagaland in three months

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and R N Ravi, Governor of Nagaland in New Delhi. Photo credit: Raj Bhavan, Nagaland.

After the "historic" scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Narendra Modi government has set a target of three months for signing a final agreement for solving the decades-long conflicts in Nagaland. 

Nagaland governor and interlocutor for Naga peace talks, R N Ravi on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to conclude the talks within three months for signing a final agreement.

"Three months is not a short time since we have been negotiating for the past 22 years. We have resolved all substantive issues, including powers that belong to the Naga people... on a few symbolic issues, options were offered and interlocutors were urged to explore," said Ravi.

Ravi, a deputy national security adviser and former chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) took charge as the governor on August 1.

This development comes amid speculation in Nagaland that the Modi government might withdraw Article 371 (A), under which Nagaland enjoys special powers and protection.

Under this provision, no Act of Parliament with respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources is applicable to Nagaland, unless the state Assembly decides so by a resolution.

Many in Nagaland do not consider themselves a part of India and say the state was an independent entity before the British took over. Nagaland declared independence after the British left and launched an insurgency against the Government of India. 

The process for finding a permanent solution to the decades-long conflict began in 1995, with the signing of the Paris Agreement. 

NSCN (IM), the rebel group leading the insurgency, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 1997.

In August 2015, the outfit signed a "Framework Agreement" with the Modi government, which the outfit said agreed to "shared sovereignty" and accepted Naga as a unique identity. The NSCN said a final agreement could be possible if the Centre did not renege on its promise.

Ravi met various stakeholders in Nagaland to find "an inclusive agreement" but sources said the process got stuck after the Naga groups demanded a seperate flag and Constitution for Nagaland. 

Ravi, however, said Nagaland had nothing to worry after the Jammu and Kashmir development, as Article 371 (A) was a "solemn commitment." Ravi also said Nagaland was at the cusp of history, hinting that a final agreement could be signed soon.

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