Nagaland governor R N Ravi’s outburst about the Naga problem being a law and order problem and not a political problem may be horribly misplaced and contrary to the position of sucessive Indian governments , but it does reflect frustration about a strong group of Naga rebels reaching China-Myanmar border evading the Indian counter-insurgency dragnet.
” Framework agreements like the one in Aug 2015 are only signed to pave the way for political settlements , not to handle law and order problems, ” said Subir Bhaumik, author on Northeast.
He said Devegowda , Gujral, Vajpayee and Manmohan all used political leaders or experienced bureaucrats like Rajesh Pilot, Zoramthanga or R S Pandey to work the Naga Peace Process because it was huge political problem.
” Modi should use Zoramthanga rather than a policeman who only understands law and order and sees everything through that lens. The former rebel boss and Mizoram CM is ready for the challenge, as he told me recently,” said Bhaumik, who has covered the Naga imbroglio very closely over the decades.
He said four Christmas has passed after the 2015 Framework agreement but the final settlement is no where in sight.
” That is because the Indian government isv trapped between its earlier promise of accepting the ‘special federal relationship’ as the basis for a final Naga settlement and the unwillingness to keep the promise to beef up its hyper nationalist credentials,” Bhaumik said.
Bhaumik said the ‘impose a settlement without gracefully negotiating one’ approach seen in Kashmir will not work in Nagaland.
” This could have been a crowning glory for the Modi government but it will end in a huge failure, because of inefficient negotiators and confusing briefs from the top,” said Bhaumik.
At a time when talks between the Centre and Naga groups have reportedly reached a stalemate due to Ravi’s failure to achieve a breakthrough , some top commanders of the separatist group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) faction are said to be camping in China and trying to convince the Chinese to resume help for their fight against the Indian government.
Phungting Shimrang, the former chief and senior member of the NSCN-IM, has reportedly gone to Yunan province in China with two of his trusted comrades.
A top commander of a Myanmar-based Khaplang faction of NSCN told Easternlink that Phungting and his two comrades reached China via eastern Nagaland (Naga self-administered areas in Myanmar) in the second half of October and then again in June this year .
The three leaders are trying to talk to the Chinese authorities for help in their fight against India.”
“NSCN-IM chief Anthony Shimray has also left the outfit’s headquarters camp in Hebron and is staying in an undisclosed location along the India-Myanmar border. More than 3,000 cadres of the IM faction have been were camping in the border areas since October,” the leader added.
During talks with representatives of the several Naga groups, the Government of India has ruled out a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas as demanded by the NSCN-IM, and made it clear that the endless negotiations with the insurgent group under the shadow of guns is not acceptable to it.
Paresh Baruah, the chief of United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) faction, said, “Phungting Shimrang will not return to Camp Hebron along with his comrades. They have realised that Delhi is not ready to give more power to the Nagas, especially as far as the flag and constitution are concerned. Hence, they are ready to fight again,” Baruah told this correspondent over the phone from an undisclosed location.
“We are closely monitoring the movement and strategy of the IM leadership, which is camping across border,” said a top commander of the rebel group.
Baruah said, “Nowadays, the situation and atmosphere have changed. The young leadership of the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the NSCN are trying to reach an understanding. There is mutual understanding for a war and over future activities.”
Former director general (Special Branch) of Assam Police, Pallab Bhattacharyya, said, “China will take advantage of these anti-Indian groups. It cannot directly start a war against India, but their agencies are always trying to create problems in the northeast through the NSCN, ULFA and Manipuri insurgent groups. Basically, China uses these outfits to wage a proxy war against India.”
The NSCN-IM is said to be looking for a foolproof deal so that the government is unable to either backtrack or stop short of implementing the agreed points, as they believe have happened on earlier occasions.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy had told the Lok Sabha that there has been considerable progress in the ongoing Naga peace talks and almost all the Naga underground groups are engaging with the Central government in the process.
“All stakeholders, including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, will be duly consulted before any settlement is arrived at with the Naga groups and their concerns taken into consideration,” he said in replying to a written question in the House.