Expectation is a sticky affair – it could be the root of disappointment or embodiment of triumph. Since the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India (GoI) signed the ‘framework agreement’ on August 3, 2015, belligerent repartee based on ‘expectations’ has been the recurring theme on mainstream and social media.
Will the ‘framework agreement’ accommodate a political relationship founded on genuine federalism and serve the competing imperatives of all stakeholders? This column has consistently argued that non-disclosure and silence on the specifics of ‘framework agreement’ has created a limbo. It has elicited a sense of anxiety and trepidation. With conjectures and postulations flying around, albeit a teaser and official clarification here and there, one is none the wiser.
In the light of this, the recent statement titled ‘Statement of Senior National Workers from Nagaland State on the Framework Agreement’ issued on May 10 is significant and timely to frame a future course of action. “The acceptance of Nagas as a unique people and as with equal status and as a separate entity with sovereign rights is the biggest and highest political achievement the Nagas had ever attained,” it stated.
Affirming faith in the collective leadership, it asserted, “The current political achievement of the Nagas led by the NSCN had persevered through difficult roads and had signed the most cherished political agreement… ensuring for peaceful coexistence between the Nagas and India with shared sovereignty will surely usher in peace and brighter political era for the Nagas.”
“This framework agreement has turned the politics of confrontation and opposition into the politics of dialogue and cooperation…” the statement illuminated.
Ironically, while opining that it would heal “the chronic scars of war and the wounds of oppression and persecution…” and an “…ample opportunity to the two peoples to building a highway of peace and progress in the region in particular and the South East Asia in general,” the statement accused the agencies of GoI of divisive politics by playing “communal and factional cards” and of “insincerity or double-standard” by entertaining the ill-opinions of the “anti-peace process elements.”
Significantly, claiming that some quarters “are out there talking of other option,” it said that it will be a “futile exercise for any actors if the propagated option is to be a kind of political arrangement within the parameter of Indian constitution.” ‘The issue’ cannot be interpreted in terms of numbers but ‘truth’, it stressed, adding that “It is a dangerous political hypothesis if the claimed number does not represent the issue.”
At this crucial juncture inclusivity should be the fundamental parameter to arrive at meaningful peace. While numbers do not always portray the truth, it influences the future course of action. The Colombian people’s rejection of a peace agreement between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in October 2016 serves as a reminder to all stakeholders.
Definitive implementation is the most challenging part after any agreement. Consequently, without addressing the concerns of all stakeholders, it will be premature and myopic to assume that things will fall into place. Meaningful peace and justice will not prevail if the common response to any criticism is to bracket the critics into a certain category of people. Historical errors are rectified only by finding ways to go beyond these mistakes, not pointing fingers at each other to justify a given action.
Rejection of “this historic agreement will amount to murder of the precious second chance,” cautioned that statement. An agreement without recognising the internal contradictions and concerns of competing imperatives will take Nagas down a familiar path once again.
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