The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has withdrawn its demand of sovereignty and now want “a solution within the Constitution of India”, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday, days after the Naga “peace accord” was signed at a much-publicised ceremony here. The accord became possible because Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a “big lead”, Mr. Rijiju said, even as he acknowledged that the northeastern states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh were not consulted as the “final solution has not been arrived yet”.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu , the Minister, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, said the deal was only a “framework agreement”. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, he said, have been forced to make a U-turn and oppose it on the directions of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
At a high-profile event on August 3, presided over by Mr. Modi, the government announced that a “peace accord” had been signed with the NSCN(I-M), the largest Naga group in talks with the government.
If the Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi, Nabam Tuki and Okram Ibobi Singh, whose States have a sizeable Naga population, said they were not consulted on the Naga peace accord, even the Home Affairs Ministry was reportedly kept out of the entire process.
Asked if the Ministry was consulted before the announcement, Mr. Rijiju said: “The interlocutor [peace interlocutor R.N. Ravi] represents the government. He briefs the Home Ministry from time to time. It does not make any difference, how and when it was decided. That was the PM’s call; it does not mean we were in the dark. PM wants action and proper positive action, without any delay. It is just an announcement, not important when I came to know. We are all part of the team.”
He said nobody in the northeast opposed the agreement. “It is only because of Ms. Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi that it is being made into a political issue. Why should Congress parade its Chief Ministers against such an important decision? PM has said they would be consulted in due course of time. They can make their point later on. Asking them [the Chief Ministers] to delete Facebook and Twitter posts [praising the deal] and oppose this particular step was [a] totally avoidable [act of the Congress]. I did not expect a national party like the Congress to play politics,” Mr. Rijiju said.
Referring to the episode in which Special Forces of the Indian Army crossed into Myanmar and destroyed insurgent camps including that of the NSCN-Khaplang, a group that violated the ceasefire with India in March, Mr. Rijiju said the 1,643-km-long border the two countries shared was not manned properly as India and Myanmar had friendly relations.
Explaining that India would require an agreement to fence the border, he said: “Currently, we don’t deploy border guards at zero point. Right now, there is no such move to fence it either. We have to make our border patrolling more robust. The militant groups operate on this side as well as that side of the border. The issue concerns both the countries.”
The Home Ministry has moved a Cabinet note to compensate families whose members have been killed in firing along the Pakistan border. “We have moved the Cabinet [to put on par] those killed due to ceasefire violation by Pakistani forces” with victims of communal violence or terrorist acts. The suggestion to give Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased is at a proposal stage now.
Action against Teesta
Defending the Home Ministry’s action in recommending a CBI investigation against an association run by social activist Teesta Setalvad, Mr. Rijiju said: “These are not new cases: the Gujarat government is also probing cases against NGOs run by Teesta Setalvad.”
The Ministry, he said, is not targeting a particular NGO. It has to act as there is clear evidence of violation of norms. “We just want to make the system robust. The inaction of the previous government cannot prevent us from taking action. It was not that the Gujarat government was against Teesta … She was throughout trying to malign the Gujarat government,” he said. He said the Ford Foundation, which financed Ms. Setalvad’s NGOs, would continue to be under the scanner and under the “prior-permission” category. The Ministry recently unblocked foreign funds totalling $150,000 to be released to the U.S. donor’s bank accounts.