Sinlung /
05 August 2015

Autonomous Councils Key To Naga Deal Success


By Vijaita Singh & Anita Joshua

A day after the Naga peace accord was signed, a senior government official said here on Tuesday that the creation of “autonomous councils for Naga people outside Nagaland is under consideration.”

A similar peace agreement failed in 2011 as States with a sizeable Naga population such as Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh put up a stiff resistance to the formation of such councils. Though the Centre is yet to release the terms of the accord signed with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), government sources said a “redrawing of the internal boundaries of the States is not on the cards”, but the Naga people would have sovereignty. Autonomous councils are locally appointed governments that function in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.

The NSCN has been demanding a “Greater Nagalim” comprising all contiguous inhabited areas.

Two months to fix ‘nuts and bolts’ of Naga deal

R.N. Ravi, negotiator for Naga peace talks, told The Hindu that the deal struck on Monday was not only a “framework agreement but indeed a peace accord” and once all the modalities were finalised, it would be sent to the Parliament for ratification.

Sources said the government has fixed a two-month limit for the “nuts and bolts” to be fixed.

Explaining the procedure involved, an official said the interlocutor has to prepare a draft note and send it to the Home Ministry, which would circulate it to the concerned ministries and the state governments. Based on their comments, a final Bill will have to be prepared and if agreed upon by all the stakeholders it will be presented before the Cabinet. Once the Cabinet gives the nod, the Bill is presented before the Parliament for ratification.

In the present case, no such steps have been taken till now and only the contours have been defined, an official explained.

Senior Congress ministers said a similar exercise was done in 2011 but it could not be signed due to opposition from the then Congress chief minister of Manipur, Ikram Ibobi Singh who opposed changes in status quo.

A similar deal was arrived at between the then interlocutor R.S. Pandey and Mr. Muivah, in a low key affair held at the Border Security Force (BSF) mess in Hazrat Nizamuddin area of Delhi on July 20, 2011.

Mr. Pandey told The Hindu: “There was a breakthrough earlier as well but it could not materialise due to differences of state governments. It would have been better had the other two groups — the KK and Reformation factions also come on board. Though the terms of agreement have not been released this is definitely a step towards the peace accord. This government was decisive enough to do it.”

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “What are the details of the Naga Accord? The Government has given the Opposition no opportunity to even discuss it. Normally, a statement is made by the Minister in the House before making such an announcement when Parliament is in session. They may take the plea that making a statement was not possible since proceedings are being disrupted. In that case, they could have at least tabled it.”

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