Centre ready to incorporate Naga constitution into the Indian constitution: officials

A Naga delegation comprising Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton are in Delhi to hold talks with the government

September 08, 2022 08:46 pm | Updated 08:46 pm IST - New Delhi:

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rao. File

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rao. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Government of India is ready to incorporate the Yehzabo, the Naga constitution, into the Indian constitution and has agreed for a civil and cultural flag for the Nagas, a senior government official said on Thursday.

A Naga delegation comprising Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton are in Delhi to hold talks with A.K. Mishra, former special director with the Intelligence Bureau. Mr. Mishra was appointed as an adviser in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2020 to continue the Naga talks.

“The Yehzabo will be incorporated into the Indian constitution by presenting a Bill in Parliament. As far as flag is concerned, it will only be used for civil and cultural functions, but not in any government function,” the official said.

When contacted, Mr. Patton, who represents the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the 60-member Opposition less Nagaland Assembly said that the Naga issue should be resolved before the Assembly elections that are due in March 2023.

“The Centre is clear that there cannot be two constitutions and two flags in the country. The NSCN-IM is stuck on the demand for a separate flag and constitution,” Mr. Patton said.

The Centre is engaged in discussions with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) and seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to find a solution to the Naga political issue. The Isak-Muivah faction, the key player in the Naga peace talks has been demanding a separate constitution and a separate flag for the Nagas.

The NSCN-IM also demands creation of ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim by integrating Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and uniting 1.2 million Nagas.

More than hundred rounds of talks spanning over two decades have taken place so far.

On August 3, 2015, a year after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power, the NSCN(I-M) group signed a framework agreement in the presence of the Prime Minister. Mr. Patton met President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday and explained the progress made in the talks.

“There is no question of integration of Naga-inhabited areas in other States with the existing State of Nagaland. It has been ruled out by GOI,” Mr. Patton said.

He said he was hopeful that a solution is reached before the Assembly elections as it was the demand of the people too and they might agitate if talks are prolonged.

“If a final agreement is signed before the elections, an interim government may be in place for few months till the final elections are held. If NSCN-IM wants, they could also participate in the elections,” he said.

The deputy Chief Minister added that the Centre was keen to resolve the issue and the Prime Minister has shown keen interest in the development of the region. “When Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, he did not visit Nagaland even once in ten years of his tenure. Narendra Modi ji as visited Nagaland twice in the past seven years, accordingly the slogan- if Northeast is developed, the entire country is developed,” Mr. Patton said.

Mr. Patton said the Niki Sumi group of NSCN with which Centre extended ceasefire a day ago does not have any separate demand. “Whenever a solution is reached, he will be there for the people,” Mr. Patton said.

On September 7, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that it has been decided to extend the Ceasefire Agreement with the NSCN (K) Niki for a period of one year with effect from 08.09.2022 to 07.09.2023. The MHA first signed the agreement in 2021. Sumi is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly planning the attack on an army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district on June 4, 2015 when 18 personnel were killed. Sumi who had been living in Myanmar surfaced in Nagaland in 2020 after which he signed an agreement with MHA.

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