Post-Naga ‘deal’, efforts on to bring Manipur on board

The Manipur government has presented "a long list of queries" to the Centre about the possible agreement being worked out with Naga insurgent groups in an effort to resolve the six-decade long Naga secessionist movement.

The Centre has been actively engaging with three states, principally Manipur, that need to be on board in any agreement that is worked out to resolve the longest-running and the most violent agitation for a separate country.

There have been several rounds of talks with state governments of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh after the NSCN-IM — the strongest insurgent group waging a war for a separate Naga country — agreed, in writing, some months ago that it would, in principle, accept the Indian Constitution and try to find a peaceful resolution within the basic structure of the Constitution, provided that some amendments were made to address the concerns of the Naga people.

The recognition of the Constitution by the NSCN-IM, reported first by The Indian Express on October 15, was one of the biggest breakthroughs in the Naga peace process because until now the Naga groups have been insistent on forming a separate greater Nagalim that would include Naga-inhabited territories of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

Having achieved the big breakthrough, the focus has now shifted to bringing other parties on board, mainly Manipur, which has a substantial Naga population and would have to be involved at every stage in any future agreement with the Naga groups. In recent times, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at least three times. He has met the Central negotiator R S Pandey as well.

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