Sinlung /
10 August 2015

RTI Plea Seeks Details of Naga Pact From 'Clueless' MHA

RTI plea seeks details of Naga pact from 'clueless' MHABy Bharti Jain

Such requests can always be turned down as the RTI Act exempts the govt from making disclosures that can impinge upon national security.

New Delhi, Aug 10 : As the Congress and chief ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh question the 'shroud of secrecy' over the Centre-NSCN (IM) accord signed last Monday, an RTI application has been moved from Assam asking the Union home ministry for details of the "historic" agreement.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Bibhuti Bhushan Borthakur on Thursday sent a letter to the home secretary seeking details of the agreement signed between interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi and NSCN (IM) general secretary T Muivah. The letter sought to know why the signed agreement was not made public so far.

Though sources indicated that such requests can always be turned down as the Right to Information Act exempts the government from making disclosures that can impinge upon national security, the home ministry may have to perforce reject this as it knows little about the terms of the "framework agreement" signed on Monday.

Though Ravi did brief home minister Rajnath Singh and home secretary LC Goyal on the Naga accord on Thursday, explaining that it was only a "framework" to proceed with further negotiations on the terms of a final 'accord', this has done little to dispel confusion within the home ministry brass on the "agreed way forward".

In fact, its limited knowledge of contents of the Naga pact forced the home ministry to write to the interlocutor on Friday, seeking details of the accord and its impact on the ceasefire ground rules in force in Nagaland. This was after the Indian Army approached the home ministry for clarifications.

As the home ministry deals with requests from the Army and even the affected states on details of the Naga accord, it would obviously like to know whether there is any change in the government's or NSCN (IM)'s stand on some of the latter's contentious demands.

In 2011, negotiations had come unstuck primarily over two controversial issues: the NSCN (IM) demand that postings of officers within the Naga-inhabited autonomous areas be decided by the state governor and another seeking an integrated body to decide on issues like culture and language of the Naga tribes living in other states.

Both these demands ran into opposition from states having Naga-inhabited areas, like Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh was livid at the thought of ceding his government's right on postings and transfers, calling this a ploy to "create a state within a state". The states also resisted the demand for an integrated body for Naga tribes, arguing that it would open a Pandora's box with other non-Naga tribes also seeking a similar arrangement.

Though the NSCN (IM) has dropped its demand for sovereignty and even 'Nagalim' (Greater Nagaland) comprising Naga-inhabited areas of states other than Nagaland, the home ministry would be curious to know if the latest 'accord' signed by Ravi and Muivah raises the aforesaid contentious demands or has agreed to set them aside. In case of the former, it also remains to be seen if Manipur and other states will show the magnanimity to accommodate the very demands that held up a settlement after an understanding was reached in 2011 between then interlocutor R S Pande and NSCN (IM).


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