On August 3, 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a historic peace deal with the leaders of the Nagaland separatist group NSCN-IM. It was hailed by all as the biggest breakthrough in the decades-long separatist movement in the Northeast – the oldest insurgency problem of the country. Yet hardly anyone had any information about the terms of the peace deal.
Now, reports inform us that NSCN-IM celebrated its 37rd republic day on March 22 at the District Sports Complex, Chandel district of Manipur.
That this celebration comes after the signing of the Framework Agreement of 2015 between the group and the Indian Government itself raises a slew of questions.
1. How can a separatist group celebrate its own republic day a 37th time without anyone objecting to it?
2. How can they hoist their own flag?
3. Is the demand for a separate Nagalim still strong?
4. What exactly were the terms of the peace accord?
While the terms of the peace deal have never been officially revealed, one can draw a hint from what NSCN-IM leader Isak Chishu Swu said in a speech read out by another leader of the group at the event.
Swu said that the peace accord states that there would be “shared sovereignty of the two equals”, in some areas and “co-existence of the two entities”.
While thanking Prime Minister Modi for his initiative at finding a solution to the Nagaland separatist issue, Swu claimed that the Indian Government had “recognised our sovereign right, the ownership of land and its resources, our unique history and identity.”
This brings to the fore the original demand of Greater Nagalim – an autonomous land within the borders of India demanded by the Naga separatist groups.
Following the signing of the deal, the Manipur government had told the Centre that not a single inch of the state’s land would be given to the separatists. Chief Ministers of states, parts of which the Naga separatists claim for Greater Nagalim land, have time and again expressed their dissatisfaction on the accord.
Now that NSCN-IM held its own republic day, United Committee Manipur (UCM), a political group against the Greater Nagalim demand, has asked the Manipur government why such an event was allowed to be held on the state’s soil.
Its president Elangbam Johnson said that agreement between the Centre and NSCN-IM does not cover Manipur.
The NSCN-IM is a moderate separatist group of Northeast. It was formed upon the disbanding of the unified National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) into two groups – the other being the extremist NSCN-K.
NSCN-K has been carrying out terrorist activities in the northeast. In January this year, Indian intelligence agencies sounded alarm over NSCN-K’s growing drug trafficking business in the region, which is one of the main source of funds for its terrorist activities.
The framework agreement was between the Centre and the NSCN-IM faction only. But all Nagaland separatist groups operating in the northeast have a cognate demand of Greater Nagalim.
Only an independent, sovereign country can celebrate a republic day. So what the NSCN-IM did is unconstitutional by all means.