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As Nagaland heads for Assembly polls in 2023, solution eludes peace talks

Before the last Nagaland Assembly polls in 2018, the BJP and its allies had campaigned with the slogan "election for solution" even as several groups had called for boycotting the ballots

Nagaland, AFSPA, AFSPA Protest

Locals stage a protest in Kohima, demanding repeal of AFSPA (Photo: PTI)

IANS Kohima
Before the last Nagaland Assembly polls in 2018, the BJP and its allies had campaigned with the slogan "election for solution" even as several groups had called for boycotting the ballots saying "no solution, no election".
Nagaland along with Meghalaya and Tripura will witness Assembly polls after five years in February 2023, but there is no remote chance of any breakthrough in the decades-old Naga peace talks before the electoral battle.
The Nagaland government, different political parties, NGOs as well as civil society groups have been demanding for an early solution to the decades-old political issue, dominant Naga group NSCN-IM has remained firm that without accepting the demand for a separate Naga flag and constitution, the vexed issue would not be resolved.
The NSCN-IM's demand was earlier rejected on a number of occasions by former government interlocutor and then Nagaland Governor, R.N. Ravi.
Amidst a series of agitations and demands throughout 2022 for the early solutions of the Naga political issue, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recently said that the state remained backward in all areas of development as compared to other states, and this was due to the unresolved political issue.
"Even if the Central government and the NNPGs (Naga National Political Groups) sign a final peace accord or settlement, there will be no real peace if the Nagas cannot act as one people," the Chief Minister had said.
A top government source said that "Naga leaders have recently returned to Kohima from New Delhi without any breakthrough and the talks are likely to resume only after this festive season".
Apart from the Naga political issue, the northeastern state has also witnessed a series of agitations, shut down, protest rallies, sit-in demonstrations, boycott this year after the security forces' in a botched operation killed 14 civilians on December 4 and 5 in 2021 at Oting in Mon district.
Several organisations led by the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) held black flag protests on the first anniversary of the Oting massacre on December 4 and 5 (2022) in six districts of northern Nagaland.
The other organisations included Oting Village Council (OVC), Oting Citizens' Forum (OCF) and Oting Students' Union (OSU).
Rejecting the state government's appeal, the ENPO boycotted the 10-day-long 23rd edition of the Hornbill Festival which began at the Naga Heritage Village Kisama on December 1.
The black flags protests were held in Mon, Kiphire, Longleng, Noklak, Shamator and Tuensang in eastern Nagaland.
Naga bodies including the most influential ENPO demand for a separate state 'Frontier Nagaland' and related agitations and events also dominated 2022.
A three-member central team, constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), headed by adviser (North East) A.K. Mishra visited Nagaland in mid December and held a series of meetings with various Naga bodies including ENPO, Eastern Nagaland Women Organisation, Eastern Nagaland Students' Federation and 'Gaon Bura Union' representatives.
The team as part of their study on the demand for a separate state 'Frontier Nagaland' would also be meeting leaders of other religious communities under the ENPO region besides Deputy Commissioners and Superintendent of Police.
A delegation of ENPO recently met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and the latter told them that he is likely to visit Eastern Nagaland by January.
The ENPO leaders stated that Shah highlighted a clear roadmap for an amicable, legislative and sustainable solution of their demand which also includes consultation with the people of Eastern Nagaland and state government.
The ENPO has also called to boycott Nagaland Assembly polls over statehood demand.
In support of their demand of creation of 'Frontier Nagaland', seven tribes of the eastern Nagaland rejecting the state government's appeal had also boycotted the Hornbill Festival.
Seven tribes of Nagaland -- Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Tikhir, Sangtam and Yimkhiung -- are spread across six districts.
On the separate state demand, the Nagaland cabinet had recently resolved that whenever a Legislative Assembly session is convened, legislators and members of Eastern Nagaland Legislators' Union (ENLU), if and when they desire to discuss, may move accordingly and the issue would be deliberated threadbare.
The state government held a series of meetings with Chief Minister, Ministers and officials to resolve the inter-state border disputes along over 512 km border with Assam.
The efforts would continue into the New Year for a lasting solution to the decades-old problems.
Notwithstanding various agitations and resentment over the unresolved Naga political issue, the 10-day long (December 1 to 10) famous 23rd edition of Hornbill festival was held at the Naga Heritage village Kisama showcasing traditional diverse culture and vibrant life.
Over one lakh tourists, including 850 foreigners, were in attendance.
As India assumed the G20 Presidency, co-branding activities were carried out such as the G20 Logo displayed at the village Kisama, 12 km from the state capital Kohima.
The festival is a cultural extravaganza to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)
--IANS
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(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Dec 27 2022 | 9:58 AM IST

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