Government, Naga groups shouldn’t abandon gains of 25 years: Naga leader

KOHIMA: With the Naga political issue and peace talks facing hurdle over the NSCN-IM’s repeated insistence for a separate flag and Constitution, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which rules Nagaland, on Monday urged the Centre as well as the Naga groups not to back out from what has been committed, in writing and otherwise, during the last 25 years.

UDA chairman and former Chief Minister TR Zeliang said that the ruling alliance had conveyed the sentiments of the Naga negotiating groups to the Centre that it should not change its stand from what had been committed to the Nagas through former interlocutor and Governor RN Ravi and present government representative AK Mishra. “The negotiating parties should not back out from what has been committed to each other. With this approach, Nagas can expect that the talks will come to a logical conclusion at the earliest. The ongoing talks so far are positive,” he said in a video message.

Referring to various reports in the media and elsewhere and without mentioning the name of former Chief Minister SC Jamir, Zeliang said “loose remarks” made by some Naga leaders based on speculations and hearsay caused misunderstanding and confusion among the Nagas. “I appeal to all right-thinking Naga leaders to refrain from making unsubstantiated comments. Any lawmakers, public leaders and everyone have the right to speak out for the common welfare of the Nagas.

“However, one must remember that unlike the 1960s when overground groups were part of the (peace) negotiations, it is the Naga nationalist groups who are part of the negotiations today.

” He said as the undivided armed group, the Naga National Council was not consulted prior to the signing of the 16-Point Agreement in the 1960s by the Centre and the Nagas, the armed conflict continued. “The UDA government wants inclusiveness and involves everyone to settle the Naga political issue,” the former Chief Minister said, adding that any unfounded and unwarranted remarks might mislead the most sensitive peace process.

Jamir is the only surviving signatory of the 16-Point Agreement that led to Nagaland’s creation as a state in 1963. Of late, he had warned of an impending earthquake in Nagaland with epicentre in Delhi. Appreciating the “genuine” effort of the negotiating parties, the UDA chairman said one should not believe that the final agreement on this complex and sensitive issue would be inked secretly and imposed on the Nagas.

The UDA government headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has been working vigorously to settle the Naga political issue involving every shareholder, he said. “The 60 MLAs have committed to pave the way for smooth transition as and when there is a final settlement. However, the demand for the resignation of the democratically-elected members at this juncture by individuals and certain sections of society is uncalled for. UDA requests all Naga organisations and Naga leaders to avoid issuing public statements based on speculations and hearsas,” he added.

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party is the dominant party of the ruling UDA with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has 12 MLAs, as one of the important constituents. Recently, 21 of the 25 MLAs of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) led by Zeliang merged with the NDPP, increasing its strength in the 60-member Assembly to 42. The BJP, the NPF, and the NDPP are the constituents of the opposition less all-party UDA government, formed last year to take forward the Naga political issue between the Centre and Naga outfits and various other groups. Assembly polls in Nagaland expected to be held in February-March next year and all the parties and the state government are keen to resolve the issue before these. IANS

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