The stage is set for signing on the dotted line for the long awaited Naga Peace Accord with a Parliamentary Committee headed by the former Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, giving the “go ahead” to the Government of India to finalise the Naga peace talks at the earliest.
As per a report appearing in the The Naga Republic News & Analysis on Saturday, the all-important Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has ‘strongly recommended’ that the Government of India should “conclude the peace talks, at the earliest, based on a broad understanding over the most contentious issues”.
The report further stated that the Parliamentary panel observed that once the Naga peace pact is signed it will bring long-lasting peace to the State of Nagaland that was once the hotbed of insurgency for the Northeastern region. “The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that the Government should continue its efforts to engage the Naga groups and finalise the Naga Peace Accord.”
It may be mentioned that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has members drawn from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and includes representatives of all major political parties in Parliament.
The panel, in its report tabled in Parliament, also wondered “why there is a delay in concluding the peace talks when all other stakeholders other than the Government appear to be eager to conclude it”.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee warned the Government against “dragging its feet” on talks over the Naga Accord as already the Naga groups are becoming “restless” and further delay could harm “whatever progress has been achieved so far” in this direction.
“The committee apprehends that the Naga groups and tribal bodies are becoming restless due to the delay in concluding the talks”, the Committee stated while also recommending that the Government of India should “tread carefully on the issues sensitive to the Nagas and not let vested interests hijack the peace narrative”.
The people of Nagaland are expecting that a peace pact would be signed before the term of the Narendra Modi-led Government at the Centre ends in early 2019. While it is uncertain on whether the ‘Naga Peace Accord’ will be discussed in Parliament during the ongoing Monsoon Session, the Modi government will be in a better position to take the final step in concluding the Indo-Naga peace talks since the heavyweight Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has almost endorsed the Government’s position.
According to report, representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs, including the Home Secretary, the Director, Intelligence Bureau, the interlocutor of the Government on the Naga peace talks and other senior officers concerned, deposed extensively before the Committee.
From the Government’s point of view, the positive thing is that the All-Party Parliament Committee has already built a consensus across party lines, endorsing the signing of the Naga Peace Accord. It will now be much easier for the Modi-led Government to come ink the peace deal.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its note on the Naga Peace Accord mentions that the NSCN (IM) “subsequently dropped its long standing demand of sovereignty but continued its another persistent demand of integration of all Naga-inhabited areas with the State of Nagaland to create a greater Nagaland or Nagalim”.
Further, according to the note, “the Government reached an understanding with the NSCN (IM), which agreed for a settlement within Indian federation, with a special status”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee has also observed that any final agreement will have some implications for the three States viz., Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, where Nagas are residing in certain areas.
As such the Committee was of the considered view that any agreement that may be finally arrived at must “allay the fears of the stakeholders in these States and the State Governments must be kept abreast with the emerging dynamics of the talks”.
The Committee has also strongly recommended that the Ministry should prepare a detailed and generous rehabilitation-cum-settlement scheme for the cadres who will surrender as part of the agreement.
Also it recommends that the Government should, nevertheless, “proactively stay prepared for any kind of scenario that may emerge in the aftermath of this agreement, and keep the security forces and the Intelligence agencies on the alert”.