Naga Framework disagreement | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

Naga Framework disagreement

Published Jan 25, 2019
Updated May 26, 2020

Worries about the Framework Agreement signed in August 2015 between the Government of India representatives and the NSCN(IM), is once again set to be at its periodic crest in states that neighbour Nagaland, namely Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. As the Lok Sabha election dates inch closer, this anxiety is expected to mount. Will the BJP government at the Centre think coming out with a final version of a peace accord that the August 2015 Framework Agreement anticipated is prudent on election eve, which from all appearance is unlikely to be an easy battle for the ruling party?

Or would the party think Nagaland’s one Lok Sabha seat is not worth angering its neighbouring states where there are many more seats at stake. As of now, nothing much is known of the content of the FA, and it does seem that when it was signed it was just an empty framework to be filled later with negotiated agreements.

But this secrecy has also been a cause for anxiety amongst all stakeholders, including larger sections of the public in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and indeed Nagaland. Surely, nobody would want a surprise sprung upon them on matters that are vitally important to their life and wellbeing.

Surely again, nobody would want to be left helplessly out of control of what may determine the shape of their future. As expected, the Congress, now in the opposition in Manipur, has been leading a protest demanding the revelation of the entire content of whatever agreement has been reached.

All these notwithstanding, in all likelihood, those fearful as well as anxious to know the content of the FA may have to wait some more. In all likelihood, the agreement may still not be ready for public pronouncement for a number of reasons, and here are some of our guesses.

One, this is a complex issue, and can have no easy answer. The general perception is, it is Manipur where the biggest hurdles would be, but this may not be the entire truth.

Assam and Arunachal too have on several occasions in the past expressed serious objections on a solution to the Naga problem that may affect their territorial integrity.

Two, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are now BJP ruled states, and the BJP central leadership may not be too keen to alienate them by forcing terms on them especially on the eve of a vital election expected to be extremely closely fought.

This is especially so in the wake of what seems to be the waning influence of the central BJP and their charismatic leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indeed, indications are the BJP may not live up to its image of invincibility even in Modi’s home turf. It must hence be said the BJP at this moment is in an unenviable position on the question of the Framework Agreement.

There is yet another angle to the problem. There is a generally presumption that Nagaland is solidly behind the FA, and this is a fallacy. People in this state are as anxious and suspicious of the FA, of which they too are in the dark, and just as in Manipur there are demands in Nagaland for the FA contents to be made public so that the people would know what new situation they are likely to be thrown into, or whether there would be any substantial gains they would have from it.

There would certainly be outrage if the new agreement is no better than the truce in 1975 brought by the Shillong Accord which the NSCN then denounced as a sell-out and therefore refused to accept. If 44 years down the line, the new accord brings nothing better than the fact of an end to violence, obviously there would be cynicism.

Again, if the new accord is about autonomy for Naga districts in Manipur, Nagaland is sure to ask if this was what they have had to pay with 44 years more of the trauma of bush war they were dragged along. Those working to come to an agreement on what should fill the framework of the August 2015 agreement certainly will find this question not easy to answer.