History so far: new obstacles have emerged on the road to peace in Nagaland. After the signing in 2015 of a framework agreement between the Centre and the Isak Muivah group of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim or the NSCN (I-M), the largest extremist group in the peace process since 1997, more than 100 rounds of discussions took place and several twists and turns took place. The latest is the NSCN`s (I-M) request to remove Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi as an interlocutor of the 23-year Centre for the Peace Process, and his alleged adaptation of the original framework agreement. The reason for the rush to trigger a framework agreement and crash was the deteriorating health of Isak Chishi Swu, who was treated in a New Delhi hospital. Unfortunately, for health reasons, Swu was unable to participate in the signing of the agreement. He died on June 28, 2016. On 28 October, a team from the NSCN (I-M), led by its Secretary General Thuingaleng Muivah and Ravi, met again to discuss ways to find an “honourable” solution by resigning the sticky issue of a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas. “The dialogue of more than four hours was not successful and the two sides agreed to meet soon. However, a final agreement between the NSCN (I-M) and the government is unlikely to take place by October 31, 2019,” an official development confidant.
Finally, it must be recognized that, under Muivah`s leadership, the NSCN is still a fierce negotiator and that it is not possible to depend, beyond one point, on the same toolkit used by other interest groups in the region to sign on the dotted line. The NSCN requested that the Centre commit to ensuring that the framework agreement in its original form is still alive and that it “must be treated by someone other than RN Ravi”, sensitive enough to understand and respect what has been achieved over the past 23 years. In his Naga Independence Day address on 14 August, NSCN (I-M) Secretary General Thuingaleng Muivah stressed that the Nagas “will never merge with India.” But the neighbouring states of Nagaland, home to the NSCN Peace Headquarters (I-M), are concerned about the issue of sovereignty. This is due to the idea of the NSCN (I-M) of Greater Nagalim – a house that encompasses all the areas inhabited by the Naga in Nagaland and beyond. Outside Myanmar, home to many more than 50 strains of Naga, the map of The Great Nagalim includes much of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur. The Government of Assam has vowed not to part with “even a centimetre of land”, the Union All Arunachal Pradesh Students has warned against “territorial changes” while finding a solution. Minister Manipur Chief Nongthombam Biren Singh said he had received assurances from the Centre that the peace agreement with the NSCN (I-M) would not undermine Manipur`s territorial integrity. But non-Naga groups are wary, as the Tangkhul community, which is at the heart of the NSCN (I-M), is from Manipur and the outfit may not accept an agreement excluding the areas they inhabit. NNPGs, whose members come mainly from Nagaland, are also a factor; their contributions to a final solution could be contrary to those of the NSCN (I-M). This development comes at a time when the Centre`s deadline for reaching a final agreement with the Naga armed groups on 31 October was about to pass.