Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday said the signing of a new agreement between the Centre and any of the negotiating groups to find a solution to the vexed Naga issue would bring new developments and make the state “very very special”.
The Union Government has been holding two separate parleys with the NSCN(IM) since 1997 and the Naga National Political Group (NNPGs) comprising seven groups since 2017.
“The negotiations are going on. They are the negotiating parties and I cannot say what is going to happen or what is happening. It is for them to say (something on the issue),” Mr. Rio told reporters on the sidelines of an official programme.
He, however, said signing of the Framework Agreement with NSCN(IM) or the Agreed Position with NNPGs meant formulation of a system about how to protect the uniqueness, history, culture and tradition of the Naga people.
The central government and the NSCN(IM) signed the Framework Agreement in 2015 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while the NNPGs inked the Agreed Position with the Centre in November 2017.
“Many more new things will be added to us and we will be a very very special state if any agreement comes,” said Mr,. Rio.
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 Independence in 1947.
The negotiations between the NSCN(IM) and the Centre had stopped following the former’s refusal to hold deliberations with then interlocutor R N Ravi after the October 31, 2019 talks in Dimapur.
No final solution has been achieved with the NSCN(IM) remaining firm on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, which the Centre has rejected.
Talks resumed almost after a gap of two years following the appointment of A K Mishra as the new interlocutor in September this year.
Meanwhile, to a query on holding Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections due for several years, the chief minister said steps have been taken to conduct the polls.
To find out a solution to the problems, the state government and the apex civil society organisations at a meeting decided to set up a committee headed by the chief secretary in which various organisations will have their representatives, Rio said.
In February 2017, the Nagaland government withheld the election process to 12 ULBs following clashes that left two persons dead and several others injured during bandhs called by tribal bodies opposed to the polling.
The tribal organisations had objected to holding the elections with 33 per cent reservation for women, stating that it infringed on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371(A) of the Constitution.
The Chief Minister said the committee come out with its recommendations on how to conduct the polls.
The State is losing ULB grants to the tune of ₹135 crore from the 14th Finance Commission, he said.