NEW DELHI, Aug 3 - The six-decade-old NSCN (IM)-led Naga militancy marked an end today with the signing of a framework agreement between the Government of India and the Naga militant outfit.
The historic agreement was signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7 Race Course Road House, in an event that was kept under tight wraps till the final moments. The signing ceremony was attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Army chief Dalbir Singh, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang, Union Minister of State for DoNER Dr Jitendra Singh, besides National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and a few Naga MLAs and NSCN(IM)�s top leadership barring chairman Isak Chise Swu, who is currently undergoing treatment.
Though neither side divulged the details about the accord, it has been learnt that the contentious issue of greater Nagaland has been kept aside and the agreement will remain confined to only Nagaland.
Further, the agreement restricts itself to some broad areas of understanding in which consensus has been evolved, said sources.
The Centre has clarified that the agreement would be released at a later date. �Within this framework agreement, details and execution plan will be released shortly,� it was announced.
The Government of India and the NSCN(IM) successfully concluded the dialogue on the Naga political issue, officials said.
Government interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of India. NSCN(IM) general secretary Th Muivah, was the signatory on behalf of the militant outfit.
The entire top leadership of the NSCN(IM), including all members of the �collective leadership�, has fully endorsed the agreement and was present during the ceremony, official sources said.
Attempts were made from time to time to resolve the issue through discussion with representatives of the Naga people. A fresh attempt for a comprehensive resolution was initiated with the NSCN in 1997. At least 70 rounds of talks were held in India and abroad, before Ravi was appointed as an interlocutor, after which negotiations picked up pace.
Over 1,800 Nagas were killed and some 3,000 fratricidal clashes had taken place since the beginning of the �ceasefire� in 1997.
The Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. The NSCN(IM) understood and appreciated the Indian political system and governance, said sources.
The government interlocutor also held frequent consultations with a broad spectrum of Naga leaders, including those from the traditional tribal bodies, civil society, youth and student bodies, women�s groups, elected representatives and other stakeholders. These consultations helped in distilling the popular aspirations of the Naga people and in enhancing a healthy atmosphere of trust and understanding.
Addressing the meeting, Muivah narrated the history of the Nagas� struggle and thanked the Prime Minister for his vision and resolve, which made it possible for the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) to reach an honourable settlement. He said that had Mahatma Gandhi been alive today, the Naga problem would have been resolved much earlier.
Addressing the meeting, the Prime Minister said, �It was unfortunate, the Naga problem has taken so long to resolve because we did not understand each other. It is a legacy of the British Rule. The colonial rulers had, by design, kept the Nagas isolated and insulated. They propagated terrible myths about Nagas in the rest of the country. They deliberately suppressed the reality that the Nagas were an extremely evolved society. It is one of the tragedies of independent India that we have lived with this legacy. There were not many like Mahatma Gandhi, who loved the Naga people and was sensitive to their sentiments. We have continued to look at each other through the prism of false perceptions and old prejudices. The result was that connectivity between Nagaland and the rest of India remained weak across this divide. Economic development and progress in Nagaland remained modest; and, durable peace was elusive.
�Since becoming Prime Minister last year, peace, security and economic transformation of the North-east has been amongst my highest priorities. It is also at the heart of my foreign policy, especially the �Act East� Policy,� the Prime Minister said.
Stating that he had been deeply concerned about resolving the Naga issue, Modi said soon after entering office, he appointed an interlocutor for talks with the Naga leaders, who not only understood the Naga people, as also their aspirations and expectations, but had great affection and respect for them.
�Given the importance of this initiative, I asked my office to supervise these talks; and I personally kept in touch with the progress,� Modi said.
�Today�s agreement is a shining example of what we can achieve when we deal with each other in a spirit of equality and respect, trust and confidence; when we seek to understand concerns and try to address aspirations; when we leave the path of dispute and take the high road of dialogue. It is a lesson and an inspiration in our troubled world.�
Claiming that his relationship with the North-east has been deep, Modi said he had travelled to Nagaland on many occasions. �I have been deeply impressed by the rich and diverse culture and the unique way of life of the Naga people. It makes not only our nation, but also the world a more beautiful place,� he said.
�Today, we mark not merely the end of a problem, but the beginning of a new future. We will not only try to heal wounds and resolve problems, but also be your partner as you restore your pride and prestige,� he said.