ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Progress in Nagaland

The steady progress in the talks with Naga separatists opens up space for democratic solutions.

In recent days there have been stray news reports (including some speculative ones) which seem to suggest that there has been substantial progress towards ending the conflict between the Naga separatists and the Indian state. If these reports are correct, this would mark a major achievement for both the Naga movement as well as for the Indian state. These news reports suggest that both sides have made major concessions towards an honourable and just solution. While the Naga leadership may be willing to forgo total secession or even “Greater Nagalim”, the Indian state has reportedly agreed to a separate flag for Nagaland, a special status for Nagas within the Indian republic which will even be marked on their passports and some jurisdiction of the Naga authority over Nagas all over the country. These reports also suggest that the armed cadre of the separatists will be incorporated into Indian paramilitary forces and the Naga legislature will be known by its own name. In short, this implies a radical reworking of the Indian federal structure and the principles behind it and will require, at the very least, some important amendments to the Constitution of India.

The Naga movement for secession from India was inherited by the new nation state at the very moment of its independence. From before 1947, the political leadership of the Nagas has been consistently saying that it does not want to be part of the Indian Union and there is evidence to suggest that Gandhi too was keen that they should not be forced to remain if they did not wish to. However, that was not to be and as we know it has been 65 years of an intractable conflict. While dismissing demands for separation, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, did try to make major concessions in local authority and self-governance to the Nagas including the creation of a separate Nagaland state. Later, the Shillong accord of 1975 attempted to give some more concessions and bring the separatist movement into the so-called “mainstream”. Unfortunately this too proved largely a failure.

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