The decision by the insurgent Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah faction) to re-engage in talks with the Union government, conditionally, on the basis of the Framework Agreement signed in August 2015, is a welcome one. This breaks a deadlock that has persisted in talks since October 2019, which was set as a deadline for the peace accord. The possibility of a resumption of talks received a boost last week when the NSCN(I-M) and other Naga groups represented in the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) pledged in a joint statement to “overcome the cynicism” and that they are “committed to a dialogue in order to move forward” the talks for an accord. With a group of legislators and Ministers from the State meeting up with the NSCN(I-M)’s representatives — a step that has borne fruit — the stage is now set to take forward the talks, a process that seems to have been put on the backburner in October 2019. The Centre and the NSCN(I-M) must review what went wrong since the Framework Agreement was reached in 2015 and the complexities that have remained since the landmark ceasefire agreement that was signed between the two parties in 1997.

One key factor preventing a comprehensive peace accord has been the splintered nature of the Naga insurgency and the need for the Centre to deal with groups other than the NSCN(I-M). But the insurgency as a whole has weakened considerably over time and this has paved the way for talks to a negotiated accord. Second, the demands related to the greater “Nagalim”, made by the NSCN(I-M) apart from other rebels would have implications in other States, and this has complicated negotiations. Any agreement would have to be careful about not changing the boundaries of the existing States in the country as doing so could spark conflagrations in other North-east States where inter-ethnic relations remain volatile. While the machinations by the Centre in getting a deal done, especially the secretive nature of the talks, have played a part in the deadlock in talks, it is clear that the obdurate and intransigent demand for a separate flag and a Naga constitution by the NSCN(I-M) has been a stumbling block as well. The spat between the former Governor and interlocutor R.N. Ravi and the NSCN(I-M) also did not help matters. The differences of opinion on the aforementioned issues need to be dealt with directly by the representatives of the Naga groups and the Government. It is not enough to promise a solution for the sake of publicity.