New Delhi has a new group to negotiate with for a solution to the seven-decades-old “Naga political problem”.
Some leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Reformation) led by Akato Chophi have formed a breakaway group by the same name. The split has been attributed to a power struggle within the outfit.
President and “prime minister” of the parent group, Y. Wangtin Naga and P. Tikhak, issued a statement regretting the development. They said Chophi, who was the outfit’s vice-president, was expelled after efforts to make him stay failed.
In peace mode
There are more than a dozen extremist groups. All except the Yung Aung faction of the NSCN are in peace mode following ceasefire agreements with the Centre since 1997, beginning with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah).
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The Yung Aung faction operates from Myanmar and most of its members are Nagas of the neighbouring country.
Chophi claimed his group has more than 2,000 active members and said the onus was on the Government of India to sign a peace deal with it.
“The split is not for power or personal benefits but in the interest of the Nagas,” he told journalists in Nagaland, accusing a section of the NSCN (Reformation) leaders of running after money and being ignorant of the history of the Nagas.
The 1980-born NSCN had split for the first time in 1988 when S.S. Khaplang broke away and floated the NSCN (Khaplang). The parent body, led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, came to be known as the NSCN (I-M).
The NSCN (Khaplang) continued to suffer splits, mostly after 2001 when it declared a truce with the armed forces. The outfit reneged on the peace deal in 2015.
The Centre is holding separate peace parleys with the NSCN (I-M) and seven other groups that formed the umbrella Naga National Political Groups or NNPGs. The pre-split NSCN (Reformation) was a constituent of the NNPGs.
Solution remains elusive
A solution to the vexed political problem has remained elusive with the NSCN (I-M) refusing to give up its demand for a separate Naga flag and a ‘yezabo’ or constitution.
The NNGPs have reportedly taken a softer stand. It has said all substantive issues can be discussed after the settlement of the issue.