25 years of Ceasefire with NSCN (I-M)

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    • Recently, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) marked 25 years of ceasefire with the Government of India (GoI).

    About

    • The ceasefire between the outfit and the Centre had come into effect on August 1, 1997.
    • The NSCN (I-M) has rued the lack of progress in the Naga peace process after 25 years of signing a ceasefire agreement with the Central government.
    • Peace process failed to progress: Apparently due to the disagreement between the two parties over the Naga flag and the Yehzabo (Naga constitution), which the NSCN (I-M) insists were incorporated in the Framework Agreement.

    Image Courtesy: IE 

    Reasons for Armed Insurgency / Conflicts

    • Unique tribal & ethnic divisions: Ethno- communal conflicts, local vs migrants, dominant tribal groups (Nagas raising, NSCN (IM) & (K), ULFA etc). 
    • Historical reasons for the conflict: Historical connections among tribes are large of Tibeto-Burman/Mongoloid (Ethnically, linguistically & culturally very distinct.)
    • Physiographic constraints: Mountain terrains make it difficult for security forces to track borders.
    • Governance issues: Lack of Politico-administrative arrangement, corruption, nexus b/w political & insurgent groups & Lack of Law & order
    • Porous borders & arms availability: Result in arms & drugs trafficking (Golden Triangle), illegal immigration.
    • Development Issues: Like poverty, unemployment, lack of connectivity, feeling of neglect etc, limited FDI inflow etc.

    Impact of insurgency activities in Northeast

    • Sense of Insecurity: A fear of psychosis and a great sense of insecurity became pervasive due to frequent cases of kidnapping, killing, threat and extortion; frequent violations of human rights take place at the hands of the insurgents as well as of the security forces.
    • Politicians – Insurgents Nexus: Elected representatives cease to be representatives of the people and thus are not responsible and accountable to the electorates but answerable to the insurgents, who managed their winning. 
    • Diversion of Funds: Large portions of funds meant for development works are siphoned off and pocketed by insurgents.
    • Internal Displacement of Population: The displacements of Hindus and Muslims of Bengali descent from and within Assam. The displacement of Adivasis (Tea Tribes) and Bodos within and from Western Assam. The displacement of Nagas, Kukis and Paites in Manipur. 
    • Arbitrary Use of Law: Failure to differentiate common law crimes from insurgency related crimes has serious consequences. Criminal investigation and trial are short circuited. Police resort to invocation of the National Security Act to detain suspects or to kill them in fake encounters.
    • Disruption of Child Education: There is a heavy exodus of school-going children from the region resulting in big outflow of funds from the region.

    Way Ahead for Government

    • Repeal AFSPA: 
      • The first step to making tangible progress is for the government of India to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. 
      • It is a major obstacle to any political settlement with the Naga rebels. 
      • Providing this concession to the Naga would go a long way in building trust in the peace process.
    • Give power to people and trust them with it: 
      • The fate of this conflict needs to be put in the hands of those living in the northeast when the conditions to negotiate a new agreement are ripe. 
      • This approach requires a dialogue between the state governments of the northeast and representatives of the Naga.
    • Political, Administrative & Cultural Autonomy: 
      • For India, maintaining its territorial integrity as a nation state is paramount, but the central government can consider the creation of a virtual state for the Nagas beyond the territorial bounds of Nagaland state. 
        • Colombia grants “a high degree of political and administrative autonomy to indigenous communities,” 
        • While in the Åland Islands, a predominantly Swedish-speaking population in Finland is granted cultural and political autonomy. 
    • Creation of New Institution: 
      • One path forward could be the creation of a new institution headquartered in Nagaland that manages the land transfer and cultural issues for all the Naga across state boundaries without infringing on other states’ rights. 
      • This institution could be similar to the political institutions of Åland, where a government and Parliament guarantee the islands’ autonomy while ensuring representation in the Finnish Parliament.

    Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

    • It was enacted by the Parliament and approved by the President in 1958.
    • It confers certain special powers on members of the Armed Forces (military forces, air forces operating on the ground as land forces and any other armed forces of the Union (CRPF, BSF, ITBP etc)for carrying out proactive operations against the insurgents in a highly hostile environment. 
      • They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area.
    • The AFSPA is also in force in the entire Nagaland, certain districts of Arunachal Pradesh, and most parts of Manipur barring the Imphal municipal areas.

    Source: TH