Nagaland killings should prompt a broad rethink

News: The army operation resulted in the tragic death of 14 civilians in Nagaland.

What can be the impact of the killings? 

It can stall the ongoing Naga peace process and has the potential to revive the narrative of India versus the Naga people. The incident can be used by the insurgent groups to recruit and even strengthen the positions.

NSCN(I-M), the key Naga group negotiating with the Centre, has already declared the incident as a “black day” for all Nagas. While, Naga National Political Group (NNPG) has blamed the continued implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 for such incidents.

Read here: Nagaland killings aren’t a mere ‘blunder’
What is AFSPA? Why controversies surrounding it?
Read here: All about AFSPA

The law gives security forces sweeping powers of arrest and to continue counterinsurgency operations. Security forces are not charged for their actions because of the shield provided under the AFSPA.

For example, In over 20 years, the Centre has denied prosecution sanctions under AFSPA in all cases recommended by the J&K government against army men. The same law prompted Irom Sharmila to begin her hunger strike because of the tragedies like the Manipur Malom Massacre in 2000.

Why there is a stalemate despite the Framework Agreement (FA)?

Demands: Naga people’s demand a separate constitution and flag, which the centre is not ready to accept. On the other hand, NSCN (I-M) rejected the centre proposals to have a cultural flag instead of a national flag and deal with issues of a constitution after signing the agreement.

Read here: How has the Naga peace process evolved?

Vague wordings: NSCN (I-M) argued that FA states that India and Nagaland would coexist as two entities. This is acceptance of Naga sovereignty, and this consequently of separate flag and constitution. But the centre is clear that there is no question of granting sovereignty to any state within India.

The FA is so vague that it is becoming difficult to arrive at any final agreement. Moreover, since the agreement is with NSCN(I-M), it leaves out many Naga groups.

Read here: Explained: Why has peace process for Naga Accord been stuck, what is the way forward?
What is the way forward?

With Myanmar is reverting to a military junta and India in a standoff with China, there is a need that the Centre should probe the incident in an impartial way. It should grant permission to prosecute soldiers if it requires and review the proceedings of AFSPA.

Also, the government should clearly declare what it cannot give and then ask NSCN(I-M) to negotiate on other issues.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

“End the impunity: On Nagaland killing” published in The Hindu on 7th December 2021.

“Naga talks: What has caused the stalemate so far, and what impact can killings have?” published in Indian Express on 7th December 2021.

“Nagaland killings should prompt a broad rethink” published in Livemint on 7th December 2021.

“Justice in Nagaland” published in the Times of India on 7th December 2021.

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