PM Narendra Modi with leaders of NSCN (IM) at the signing of peace accord at 7,RCR on Monday. (Photo credit: You Tube screen grab)New Delhi, Aug 4 : The government on Monday evening signed a historic accord with a leading Naga group, NSCN (I-M), promising an end to India’s longest running insurgency that caps almost two decades of peace talks.
With National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) leader Thuingaleng Muivah by his side at his 7, RCR residence, Modi praised the Naga leader and Isak Chishi Swu, who together founded the group, for their wisdom, courage and efforts that led to the pact.
“It is a lesson and an inspiration in our troubled world,” Modi said after the agreement was signed by the Centre’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi and the 79-year-old Muivah.
Swu, who was unwell and was not present at the ceremony, too, had signed the deal. His son Pasheto, however, was present at the ceremony.
It was not immediately clear how the agreement addresses NSCN (I-M) demand for the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast across Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam -- the biggest stumbling block in the protracted negotiations.
The details of the pact and the execution plan would be made public shortly, a government statement later said.
The agreement, said sources, had worked out a mechanism to guarantee Naga pride, their unique history and their ethos.
The signing of the pact is the culmination of over 80 rounds of negotiations, with first breakthrough in 1997 when leaders of the NSCN (I-M), then the most lethal insurgent group, agreed to a ceasefire.
“The Naga political issue had lingered for six decades, taking a huge toll on generations of our people,” Modi said about the insurgency that has cost over 3,200 lives.
Muivah was equally effusive in his praise of Modi. “Under Modi, we have come close to understanding each other and have worked out a new relation with the government,” the Naga leader said.
The negotiations received an impetus after Modi assumed power in 2014 when he pushed for a lasting solution and outlined the broad parameters for the pact.
The PM set the tone for the accord, which had been kept under the wraps, when at 6.15pm he tweeted about an “important and landmark event” minutes later at RCR.
Modi described the accord as “historic”. “Today, we mark not merely the end of a problem, but the beginning of a new future,” he said.
The government, however, still has to contend with another major Naga faction led by SS Khaplang that broke the ceasefire agreement earlier this year and was responsible for the Manipur attack in June that killed 18 soldiers.
National security adviser Ajit Doval and Ravi are believed to have been working overtime in the last few months to reach the accord.
A credible resolution is expected to provide a framework that will support stronger ties among Nagas across the region without substantially changing the jurisdictional and administrative authority of neighbouring states.
Besides Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh, many top government functionaries attended the ceremony, which was also witnessed by NSCN (I-M) leadership.