Centre reassures Assam, NSCN (IM) urges all to be on board for framework agreement

NEW DELHI, Nov 7: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday assured Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal that the Centre will take into consideration Assam and its people while signing any accord with the Naga rebel groups to end insurgency in Nagaland.
Modi and Shah gave the assurance when Sonowal called on them here separately, two releases issued by the Assam government said.
During the meeting, Sonowal apprised the prime minister of the prevailing mood of the people in Assam in the wake of the proposed Naga peace accord, and discussed with him a number of other issues concerning the state.
The central government has already rejected the NSCN (IM)’s demand for unification of Naga inhabited areas located in Manipur, Arunachal and Assam. The three northeastern states have also vehemently opposed it.
Meanwhile, the NSCN (IM) on Thursday urged different Naga groups to be on board for the framework agreement and be part of the final solution to the seven-decade-old Naga political issue.
This assumes significance in the aftermath of the 31 October decision by the Centre to continue dialogues with all stakeholders, including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal, before bringing the Naga political issue to its final conclusion.
The statement said that the NSCN (IM) appeals to and invites all “Naga brothers and sisters in different groups with open heart to get on board the bus of framework agreement and be a part of the final solution in the greater interests of the people and peace and progress in the land.”
The NSCN (IM) said it has forgiven the past mistakes of “the Naga brothers and sisters in different camps” and that they (other groups) should also forgive its (NSCN-IM) past mistakes and be reconciled.
“Let this message of peace and unity among the Nagas be acceptable to all the Nagas, far and near,” the statement said.
The Centre and the NSCN (IM) embarked on political negotiations from 1997, and, after a series of intensive negotiations, signed the framework agreement on 3 August, 2015 based on the “recognized unique history” of the Nagas, it said.
“Taking account of the commitment and assurance of the Centre on the issues of Naga national flag and constitution to resolving them at the earliest time, the two parties have mutually agreed to go for final touch on the agreed competencies for conclusion,” the NSCN (IM) statement said.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough in 1997, when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India’s Independence in 1947.
The Centre’s interlocutor and Nagaland Governor, RN Ravi, said on Thursday that “Nagas are at the cusp of history as a new dawn has begun for a new era of peace, unity and prosperity.”
He urged all Naga groups to overcome bitterness and bad memories of the past and come together and make a new beginning towards unity, prosperity, development and brotherhood.
Ravi, who was speaking at the Hornbill Festival of the Lotha Naga tribes in Wokha district, also urged the Naga people to ensure that their rich culture does not fade away with the face of the onslaught of modern technology and way of life.
The talks to find a lasting solution to the seven-decade-old insurgency problem in Nagaland were convened by the Centre in Delhi in a bid to iron out differences, particularly on the NSCN (IM)’s demands for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, which have already been rejected by the Centre.
The dialogue with the Naga National Political Groups is said to be over. (PTI)