TODAY -
Uncertainty looms over truce pact
Source: The Sangai Express

Dimapur, July 21: For the first time ever in seven years of the Centre - NSCN-IM ceasefire, struck on July 25, 1997, the possibility of another round of extension is under cloud.

Never in its seven-year of life span have the Centre - NSCN-IM ceasefire looked so uncertain and its immune system so vulnerable to breakdown.

Going by the past developments, the buzz here in Nagaland is that there would be another round of extension - so much so that many are even ready to guesstimate that it would be extended for yet another year.

But experts are worried because of a slew of reasons that is going against the spirit of the ceasefire.

This despite, fervent plea from the people here in Nagaland cutting across political divides as well as from the State Government.

Why? Because for one, the ceasefire, which was primarily meant to give breathing space to the NSCN-IM leadership to explore chances of finding a political negotiation to the vexed Naga problem has not yielded any positive, concrete outcome till date.

Both the Centre and the NSCN-IM admit that the talks so far have remained stuck in the quicksand of history - where it was before the talks and the ceasefire, though there had been several high profile symbolic movements and thaw in relations between the two after ceasefire was effected.

Besides, New Delhi is increasingly worried about reports being sent by its agencies on the ground – notably DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) - of major consolidation drive being carried out by the militant group using ceasefire as a pretext to generate and expand its income through extortion and recruitment drives on a very large scale.

On the flip side, the outfit has recently hardened its stand against one of the key policy features of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) finalized by the new Government at the Centre led by the Congress and the Left.

One of the key policies to be pursued by the new Government as per its policy document was to oppose/ discourage any re-engineering or disintegration of the existing boundaries of states.

The NSCN-IM has reacted strongly to this parti- cular policy instrument of the new government pointing that the policy does not leave any room to address its key demand for integration of Naga-inhabited areas into a single political structure – this demand of the NSCN-IM would be virtually under threat if the Centre’s policy does not have any room for considering the fact that integration of Naga-inhabited could only be at the cost of slicing out a large piece of land from Manipur where Nagas are indigenous inhabitants.

But at this juncture, any public indication by the Centre on accommodating the demand for integration of Naga-inhabited areas would virtually blow up a civil war against "Indian rule" in Manipur.

Therefore, between security concern in the region and demands of the militants, New Delhi has to do some tight rope walking so that it manages the situation.

That is till a time comes for solution through reconciliation among the often hostile ethnic groups in the region, which, though living as neighbours for ages, are often hostage to tense inter-ethnic relationships.

At this juncture, there is no definite indication that the fate of the ceasefire hinges on conditions from both ends: That the Centre has asked the NSCN-IM to retreat from extortion and recruitment drive and that the NSCN-IM wants the policy feature on disintegration of states deleted.

Or else …Bang Bang Bang! Such hard-line position from either side is unlikely.

It should not be.

Neither should ceasefire be hostage to talks that were held so far only at bureaucratic levels.

So no matter what the actual NSCN-IM position is as far as the integration issue and CMP is concerned and no matter what New Delhi’s stand is over growing abduction, extortion and recruitment issues are concerned, it is likely that both sides would give one more shot to exploring solution through talks.


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