The MIP of NSCN (IM) issued an official statement which was published in local papers dated 27.5.2015 claiming that the Framework Agreement (FA) between the GoI and the NSCN (IM) signed on 3rd August, 2015 had nullified the 16-Point Agreement of 1960 and all the past agreements. The 16-Point agreement gave creation to Nagaland as a full fledged State with Art 371(A) incorporated in the Constitution of India. Quoting from the said statement “Thus, the Article 371(A) as inserted into the Part XX1 of the Indian Constitution in the year 1962 or 16-Point Agreement of 1960, no longer bears any political meaning as the historical Framework Agreement signed between the Nagas represented by NSCN and the Government of India on 3rd August 2015 has come into existence to nullify all the past acts of injustice to the Nagas and bring new solution/agreement that is honorable and acceptable.” Unquote.
Whereas, to understand the contention of the quoted statement as above, I have to read with the last two paragraphs of the Framework Agreement and I quote “Both sides have understood each other’s respective positions and are cognizant of the universal principle that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people. Accordingly, the Government of India and the NSCN, respecting people’s wishes for sharing the sovereign power as defined in the competencies, reached an agreement on the 3rd August, 2015 as an honorable solution. It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded and we are confident, it will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities.” “ The two sides agreed that within this framework agreement details and execution plan will be worked out and implemented shortly.” Unquote.
What I have understood the meaning of the word ‘Framework’ is the parameter so set by the GoI and the NSCN (IM) within which the points of agreement or competencies would be worked out to which both the parties had agreed and signed it on 3rd August, 2015. Secondly, as I understood the implication of this sentence, quote “It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded and we are confident, it will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities.” Unquote. That out of the 18 years of negotiation, from 1997 till 2015, the process of negotiation had been successfully completed to the great satisfaction of both the parties, the GoI and the NSCN (IM). Thirdly, “for sharing the sovereign power as defined in the competencies.” The languages used here do not have any ambiguity, and so I am not confused. It implies that whatever agenda was tabled by both the parties for deliberations during almost two decades of negotiation was exhaustively discussed, scrutinized, found it to be satisfactory to both the parties and nothing was left unattended as the language goes.
The contention here is that the Framework Agreement is without the competencies or other points of agreement within the given parameters as to the layman like myself. The Framework is the frame and it remains to be a mere frame without substance. So long as the Framework Agreement remains without competencies or points of agreement, it remains to be symbolic as there is nothing to be implemented on ground in letter and spirit. One can understand the implication of the FA better when the matter is compared to that of a childless couple. The GoI and the NSCN (IM) entered into marriage 8 years ago, and yet the marriage failed to procreate and thus hereditary is lost. Similarly, what the Nagas in general can inherit from the FA?
It is also understandable from the instance of how the Art 370 for Jammu & Kashmir was abrogated by resolutions adopted in both Houses of Indian Parliament only in 2010 and not otherwise. No such political agreement outside Parliament can supersede an Act of Parliament unless that very agreement is approved by way of amendment of the Art in Parliament to replace the existing article in the Constitution. Also, any amendment to any article in the Constitution or any enactment of any new Art is by 2/3 majority is the constitutional requisite in both Houses of Parliament.
Therefore, the status of 16-Point Agreement of 1960 and its subsequential Art 371(A) is different from the status of the FA which has not gone to Parliament as yet. In the event of any substance being worked out between the GoI and the NSCN (IM) under FA, which is expected by NSCN (IM) to be of higher status than the Art 371(A) legally, then who the Naga will disagree? Yet, in the event of any agreement with lower legal status impeding the existing Art 371(A) status cannot be accepted. Till then, the Art 371(A) remains.
What I do not understand the philosophy of NSCN (IM) is why it remains allergic to the Statehood of Nagaland and its Art 371(A). While many Nagas from outside, whether residing in Nagaland or not have been enjoying the fruit of the Statehood of Nagaland all these years at par with the indigenous Nagas of Nagaland, what obsession is this with Nagaland? While all the Naga National Political Groups are trying to promote the political status of the Nagas through agreement with the GoI, what does it benefit us to set aside Art 371(A) prior to actual replacement with better status?