After about a week of disappointing news that Naga peace talks may falter again, timely intervention by a community group, the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), has kept things on track. Fortunately, the focus is now immediately on the much-needed “reconciliation” between bitter rivals NNPG and NSCN(IM).
While the NNPG is an umbrella organization of seven militant groups and has held a pro-final peace pact stance since November 2017, the NSCN-IM, led by the likes of Thuingaleng Muivah, had red-flagged the peace process by setting up the twin racks of a separate naga Constitution and flag.
Union Interior Minister Amit Shah told the core committee of elected lawmakers, led by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, in September that these two demands would not be met, but that the center was ready to sign a settlement pact to bring about the lasting peace in Nagaland that was so much desired and in adjacent areas inhabited by the Naga population.
On the initiative of FNR, a number of social workers and leaders from top NGOs and civil society met in Dimapur on Saturday and decided to bring both warring factions onto a common platform.
“This has become all the more important as the Home Office has made it absolutely clear that there should only be one solution and one agreement,” a source told IANS.
A statement issued by the FNR at the end of the meeting on Saturday (October 8th) said: “The Naga public will wholeheartedly support this reconciliation process for the NSCN and NNPG to find common ground and encourage each other to work together based on the historical and Naga political rights to advance.”
In fact, all eyes will now be on next week’s landmark meeting between NSCN(IM) and NNPG.
Sources said that the wish of the Naga people should be respected and therefore on April 14
At the end of the September 14 meeting, a statement from the Joint Accordant had clearly established a roadmap. It had aptly said: “…in order to find a way forward, we (NNPG and NSCN-IM) remain committed to peace and respect and want to resolve the outstanding issues between us.”
The two sides have had a mutual rivalry for over three decades. They were essentially turf wars as the NSCN(IM), led by Muivah and the late Isak Chishi Swu, drew their forces from the Manipur hills where Tangkhul and other Naga tribes live. The NNPG is headed by N. Kitovi Zhimomi, a Sema-Naga from Zunheboto District, Nagaland State.
Kitovi was a lieutenant to the late SS Khaplang, a Hemi-Naga insurgent leader originally from Myanmar.
Saturday’s FNR statement further raised hope that “…the Naga people must change by acting with hope and acknowledging one another as people of common belonging.”
The September 14 meeting was attended by Muivah’s trusted adviser and former militant commander, VS Atem, among others, while Alezo Venuh, coordinator of the NNPG, represented the umbrella organization.
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