Centre reaches out to Naga insurgents

As protests erupt, NSCN-IM terms Mon killings most unfortunate incidents of the Indo-Naga ceasefire signed in 1997; TN Governor Ravi rushes to Delhi

Updated - December 06, 2021 07:22 am IST

Published - December 05, 2021 09:40 pm IST - New Delhi

Opting out: A black flag being hoisted at the venue of Hornbill festival in solidarity with the civilians killed in Nagaland

Opting out: A black flag being hoisted at the venue of Hornbill festival in solidarity with the civilians killed in Nagaland

Centre has reached out to all Naga insurgent groups including the Isaak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) following the killing of 13 civilians in an armed forces’ operation in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday.

A senior government official told The Hindu that efforts were being made on the ground to assuage the situation. Following the killings, widespread protests have erupted in Nagaland and adjoining areas.

NSCN-IM, the largest Naga group that signed a framework agreement with the Centre in 2015 to find a solution to the Naga political issue, said in a statement on Sunday that it “is one of the most unfortunate incidents of the Indo-Naga ceasefire signed in 1997.”

The group in its statement said, “Under this situation we find it difficult to use the right words to condemn the killing of unarmed civilians and it cannot be justified in any manner in this part of the civilized world where the Indo-Naga peace process has seen much progress.”

The Hindu Explains | What has made the Naga peace process wobble?

In a parallel development, former interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi left Chennai for Delhi on Sunday apparently to attend an emergency meeting. Mr. Ravi had stepped down as interlocutor and was moved as Governor of Tamil Nadu in September, after talks with the IM faction hit rough weather last year and the group demanded his removal.

The talks have been revived after the transfer of Mr. Ravi , with the Centre deputing retired Intelligence Bureau Special Director A.K. Mishra. The NSCN-IM is demanding a separate flag and Constitution. Among its other demands are the unification of all Naga inhabited areas to comprise Greater Nagalim.

There are four other groups with whom the Centre has signed a ceasefire agreement — the NSCN (NK), NSCN(R), NSCN (K-Khango) and NSCN (Niki Sumi).

The official said it was too early to say if the Mon incident will have a bearing on the ongoing talks but they were keeping a watch.

Another government official said the campaign to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA ) has gathered steam. Nagaland has been declared a “disturbed area“ by the Union Home Ministry under AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without prior notice. AFSPA is in force in the Northeast since 1958 and Nagaland acquired Statehood in 1963.

A BJP functionary said, “The State has the experience to carefully address issues, even its mistakes. People will not forget nor forgive but all efforts are on to give the proper response to an unfortunate incident.”

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