Political dialogue: Completing or negotiating the journey left by Isak

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Certainly it would have been a considerable solace to all the people mourning the demise of NSCN-IM Chairman Isak Chishi Swu. Government of India’s interlocutor for the political dialogue with NSCN-IM RN Ravi was quoted as saying “It will not take long to complete the journey left by Isak. We are confident to complete the peace process soon”. Another senior Government functionary was reported as stating that the passing away of NSCN-IM Chairman Isak Chishi Swu was unlikely to impact the outfit’s ongoing negotiations with the Centre for a permanent settlement of the Naga issue. The senior Government functionary went on to comment that although Swu was the Chairman of NSCN-IM, it has been General Secretary Th Muivah who has been effectively running the show and leading negotiations on the framework agreement signed with the Government of India on August 3 last year. Nonetheless, it was under the twin leadership of Isak and Muivah that NSCN-IM grew up to be the most formidable insurgent group in the North East region. In fact, the contributions, exploits and achievements of Isak Chishi Swu in the insurgency movement of the Nagas and for that matter the entire region North East region can never be undermined. With Isak no more, Th Muivah may cut a lonely figure at the negotiating tables. Yes, there is the collective leadership but it was Th Muivah and Isak Chishi Swu who were always in the limelight being supreme leaders of the outfit. Now it is up to Th Muivah to carry forward the dialogue process and bring it to a conclusion. Now with Isak Chishi Swu no more, it is anybody’s guess whether the course of the political dialogue would change or not.

As for the dialogue process per se, it has been dragging on for too long. We hope RN Ravi’s confidence is translated into action. Although it has been almost one since the framework agreement was signed, it still remains as enigmatic and mysterious as ever. Whereas NSCN-IM’s General Secretary and principal negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah claimed that sovereignty and Naga integration are very much on the agenda of the peace talk, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have repeatedly assured all the neighbouring States of Nagaland viz; Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur that their territorial integrity would not be affected. There is no meeting point between the demand for Naga integration and keeping the territorial integrity of the neighbouring States intact. So the general reading is that either of the two negotiating parties has been misleading the State Governments as well as the people of the three States. Yes, Mr Muivah was talking about ‘shared sovereignty’. He said sovereignty of Nagaland should be with Naga people just as sovereignty of India lies with Indian people. When neither the Government of India nor NSCN-IM leadership bothers to explain what exactly shared sovereignty is, it is either unintelligible or left to speculations. Whatever way the peace process goes after the expiry of Swu, we hope, it would go the path of peace and amicability. The peace process must end on peaceful note and it should not spark more violence and turmoil which was exactly the case with the Shillong Accord of 1975. By the way, we are sure, the legacy of Isak Chishi Swu will live on for many, many years to come.

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