North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Naga peace plan lost in haze of optics, obstinacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Federal system.


The government-imposed deadline of October 31 for concluding talks with Naga groups has passed. And nothing concrete has come out of the Framework Agreement signed in 2015.

Events so far

  • Framework Agreement with Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah was signed in 2015.
    • The agreement expresses an intent to work towards the final agreement.
    • The progress on the said agreement has stalled since then.
  • Problem with the Framework Agreement: It was signed only with Muivah’s leading faction, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M).
    • Exclusion of major players: The agreement excluded half a dozen more groups, besides Naga citizenry in Nagaland and contiguous Naga homelands in the neighbouring states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam.
    • This weakened the process.

Efforts made by the government

  • Appointment of an interlocutor: The government-appointed R.N. Ravi as the government’s interlocutor. That move signalled the seriousness from the government’s side.
  • Reach out toward the other players: The government reached out to Nagas across the board.
  • The government reached out to other rebel factions, much to the irritation of NSCN (I-M), and began peace talks with them in end-2017.
  • A breakaway faction of I-M’s arch enemies, NSCN’s Khaplang, joined the process in 2019.
  • Government-led outreach attempted to bring on board non-Naga people in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam.

What is offered in the process and related issues

  • Disarmament, rehabilitation, and assimilation: A talks with I-M spelt out disarmament, rehabilitation, and assimilation of cadres and leaders through induction in paramilitary forces and political structures
  • Expanded legislature: An expanded legislature in Nagaland, for inducting the rebels and more legislative representation and relative autonomy in Naga homelands outside Nagaland.
  • Disagreement over flang and the separate state-constitution: Other Naga rebel groups agreed to what was offered by the government.
  • I-M remained intransigent over the dual use of a Naga flag alongside the Indian flag, and its constitution—
  • This I-M-scripted constitution is regressive, offers far less than what Nagas enjoy under Indian constitutional provisions, and effectively proposes Muivah as the overarching figure of Naga politics, development and destiny.
  • Unacceptance by the other groups: This is evidently unacceptable to numerous Nagas—let alone non-Nagas—for whom Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur’s Ukhrul region, remains a divisive figure.


There is a need to reconcile the difference between the different groups and reach a proposed agreement as soon as possible for the welfare of the communities and the region as a whole.

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