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New Delhi: The Union government is reportedly ready to incorporate the Yehzabo (Naga constitution) within the Indian constitution, a senior government official said, according to the Hindu.
The government has also reportedly agreed to a civil and cultural flag for the Nagas, however, it will not be used in any government function.
A delegation of Naga officials, including chief minister Neiphiu Rio and deputy chief minister Y. Patton is in Delhi to hold talks with the government on the issue. The talks will be held with former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), A.K. Mishra, who had specialised in northeast affairs while in the Bureau.
Mishra was appointed as the Union government’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks in September last year, replacing erstwhile Nagaland governor R.N. Ravi.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM) is the main rebel group that has been holding out on the peace talks between the state and the government, along with seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs). A separate constitution and flag for Nagaland has been a long-standing demand of the NSCN-IM, however, as The Wire has reported earlier, the NNPGs are ready to move forward without these two conditions.
Patton told the Hindu that the Union government has been clear in saying that two constitutions and two flags cannot be maintained in the country, but that the NSCN-IM is “stuck on the demand”.
In addition, the NSCN-IM has been pushing for the creation of a ‘Greater Nagaland’ (Nagalim) through the integration of Naga-dominated areas of the nearby states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
But this too, Patton said, was out of the question, saying the Union government has rejected the demand.
Patton, who met President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday, said that the Union government is keen to put an end to the decades-long Naga political crisis and that the prime minister has exhibited an interest in the region’s development.
“When Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, he did not visit Nagaland even once in ten years of his tenure. Narendra Modi ji as visited Nagaland twice in the past seven years, accordingly the slogan- if Northeast is developed, the entire country is developed,” the Hindu quoted Patton as saying.
Patton represents the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state’s 60-member assembly.
The present development also assumed added significance in light of the assembly elections set to be held in the state in March next year. On this, Patton told the newspaper that an interim government could be put in place until the elections, if the final agreement between the Nagas and the government is signed before then.
The developments also come a day after the Union government signed a ceasefire agreement with the Niki Sumi-led splinter faction of the National Socialist Council, the NSCN-K. While the ceasefire has been in operation since September last year, it was renewed on Wednesday until September 7, 2023.
The government of India had signed a framework agreement with the major Naga group NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015 in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find a permanent solution.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India’s independence in 1947.
However, the talks with the NSCN-IM have been inconclusive due to the group’s demand for a separate constitution and flag.
Separately, the government is also holding peace parleys with splinter groups of the NSCN after entering into ceasefire agreements.
The groups which have entered into ceasefire agreements are: NSCN-NK, NSCN-R, NSCN K-Khango and NSCN (K) Niki.