On the anniversary of ‘Naga Independence Day’, NSCN chief Thuingaleng Muivah Friday said the Naga people have “neither accepted the Union of India nor her Constitution at any point of time”, and will not do so in the days to come.
The NSCN in 2015 signed an agreement with the Modi Government, which Muivah referred to as a recognition of Naga sovereignty. “The Nagas will co-exist with India sharing sovereign powers as agreed in the Framework Agreement and defined in the competencies. But they will not merge with India,” he said.
Naga students wave Naga Flag on Independence Day (pc: Free Press Journal)
The framework agreement was signed in August 2015, after NSCN-IM agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a “special status.” Article 351 A declares Nagaland exempt from the laws of the Indian Constitution. The NCSN maintains till today that Nagaland is its own independent state with a separate constitution and flag.
“Recognise them or not, we have our own flag and Constitution,” he said. “The flag and Constitution are ingredients of our recognised sovereign entity and the symbols of Naga nationhood. The Nagas must keep their flag and Constitution.”
He further accused the Central Government of using a ‘carrot-and-stick’ policy to lure Nagas into an agreement, but still refusing to recognise their independence.
In Nagaland, students led the celebrations by hoisting the “Naga national flag”. At some places, they hoisted it braving the presence of security personnel. However, there was no confrontation.The NSF had regretted its inability to commemorate the Naga I-Day with programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic that called for the maintenance of social distancing.
After 30 years of armed confrontations, Muivah said, the Indian military generals and political leaders accepted that military solution is not possible and realised the Naga problem is a political one that calls for a political solution. He has clearly stated that any act of imposition of India’s would be unacceptable to the Naga people, however they would be open to a political solution.
In 1946, the Naga National Council (NNC) along with the then Governor of Assam, Akbar Hydari, signed a 9-point agreement which granted Nagas rights over their lands and legislative and executive powers over their territory. One of the clauses in the agreement says:
The Governor of Assam as the agent of the Government of India will have a special responsibility for a period of ten years to ensure that due observance of this agreement to be extended for a further period, or a new agreement regarding the future of the Naga people to be arrived at.
The Naga people believe that this grants Nagaland complete Independence from India, while the Central Government said that it meant that a new agreement would have to be drafted in 10 years if this agreement didn’t meet the Naga people’s needs. This has been a point of contention ever since. The Shillong Accords in 1972, an agreement signed between the Central government and Nagaland’s underground government demanded an acceptance of India’s supremacy and to resign any claims of Naga sovereignty. This further aggravated the Naga people and led to factionalism and internal violence.
Nagaland attained statehood in 1963 but a section of Naga leaders had rejected it outright and continued with the armed movement for Naga sovereignty. In 1997, the NSCN signed the Peace Accords, declaring a ceasefire between the rebel group and the Central government. Despite the 2015 agreement, the Naga political issue still remains unsolved as the Nagas still fight the centre for their right to a constitution and an independent flag.