Peace for Nagaland, Documents and Efforts:
Settling the Naga issue, By Rajinder Sachar (LINK MISSING)
'Encounter ' between the army and a Naga Group
An appeal from friends of the Nagas, July 2000
A statement by former PM's of India, July 2000

 

On the Extension of Cease-fire in Naga Areas
PUCL takes initiative

 

The Cease-fire agreement between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M group) was successfully negotiated in 1997 when the United Front Government led by Shri H D Deve Gowda was in power. The agreement was arrived at after prolonged negotiations in which Shri Issac Swu and Shri Th Muivah were in con tact with Shri Rajesh Pilot who was Minister of State for Home in the Government led by Shri PV Narasimha Rao. The UF Government also utilised the good officers of Shri Rajesh Pilot. The agreement was originally for one year and covered all the areas where the NSCN (I-M group) was active. It stipulated that the talks for a permanent settlement would be held at the highest level and outside India. It was also agreed that a team to monitor the cease-fire comprising of representatives of both sides and a representative of an NGO, agreed upon by both sides, shall be constituted. The agreement was renewed twice so that the cease-fire held good for three years. It was to lapse on July 31. 2000.

To avoid confusion as to the coverage of the territory of the operation of the Cease-fire, the NSCN, which was known as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, had made an alteration in its name from Nagaland to Nagalim, so that the areas outside Nagaland where the group was active could be included in the cease-fire. The Government of India, however, thought in terms only of Nagaland, (although practically there was not much trouble in other areas). Shri IK Gujral, who succeeded Shri Deve Gowda, made a statement in Parliament to that effect. This was not to the liking of the NSCN (I-M Group), which stressed that the Naga inhabited areas outside Nagaland had been included by implication because the group was active in those areas too.

Disappointingly, however on 11th July 12 members of the group were killed (see a report by Manipur PUCL Convenor, N Vijaylakshmi, elsewhere) by the Indian Security forces on the Assam Manipur Boarder. It is reported that the Commander in Chief of the Group was also surrounded. He was spared because somebody identified him. This tragic incident gave added relevance to the issue of the coverage of the ceasefire, as according to the Group, the Security forces said that the cease-fire did not cover the area where this incident took place. The Indian officers say that the persons killed had been busy in extortion of money and had held some persons, who refused to pay, as hostages.

On 25th May this year, the two sides had met to discuss violations of the agreement. It was then agreed that a permanent chairperson of the cease-fire monitoring group be permanently posted in Dimapur. This has yet to be done.

The cease -fire agreement was to expire on 31st July this year. However, the chief negotiator from the Naga side, General Secretary of the Group, Shri Th Muivah has been serving a on year sentence in a Jail in Bangkok in Thailand and is being tried in yet another case. These cases relate to his use of a false North Korean passport, and his jumping of the bail granted to him by he Court. He had to jump the bail so that he could visit Germany to meet the Indian delegation for talks. Since he was not available for discussions, there was apprehension that the talks will not be held and the agreement might lapse. The PUCL, therefore, requested the Government of India in June to pursue with the Government of Thailand the prospect of Shri Muivah's release, at least on parole so that the talks could be conducted. The General Secretary wrote a letter to this effect to the Prime Minister. The letter signed by the General Secretary, Dr. YP Chhibbar, was also endorsed by three other signatories, Prof. BK Roy Burman, Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty and Shri Surendra Mohan, Ex MP. The Union of Civil Liberty in Thailand was also requested by the General Secretary of the PUCL to help in the process of the release of Shri Muivah.

The Union Civil Liberty in Thailand organised a study tour to study the legal and judicial system in Thailand. It coincided with the appearance of Shri Muivah in the trial court and a mass protest against the construction of a big dam.

After consultations between the PUCL General Secretary and some fellow activists, Shri Rajindar Sachar, former President of the PUCL, Shri Surendra Mohan, member of its National Council, and Ms Nandita Haksar, Supreme Court Lawyer, were requested to go to Bangkok. Social activist and President of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Swami Agnivesh, also joined the study group. A meeting to discuss various aspects of Civil Liberties including the conditions prevalent in India, Burma, and Thailand and the issue related to the continuation of the cease fire in Naga areas was held Mr. D Sen, General Secretary of the League of Burmese Lawyers, Mr. Issac Swu, President of the NSCN (I-M Group), and representatives of some international organisations attended it. They decided to issue an appeal to the Government of India and the NSCN (I-M Group) to agree to extend the cease- fire. Next day, most of the delegates saw the trial of Shri Muivah and informally called up on the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the High Court in Bangkok. Swami Agnivesh joined the mass protest against the construction of the dam and addressed the protesters.

After returning to India, Justice Sachar, Nandita Haksar and Surendra Mohan called on the Union Home Minister Shri LK Advani. The PUCL delegation urged the Union Home Minister to ensure that the cease-fire is continued. It conveyed to him that the NSCN (I-M Group) was very keen of its continuation. It also requested Shri Advani to do something for the release of Shri TH Muivah. In order that the delegation could get the opportunity to discuss the problems that the other side had conveyed to it in Bangkok, Shri Advani asked Dr. Shenoy who had been monitoring the operation of the cease- fire, to explain to the delegation various aspects of the situation. The delegation also called up on Shri Padmanabhaiah, former Union Home secretary, who was conducting negotiations with the other side on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Afterwards, the NSCN (I-M Group), nominated a delegation which was authorised to conduct the negotiations with the officers of the Government. As a result of these negotiations the cease-fire has been extended by a year. But, while the NSCN (I-M Group)calls it an agreement between the Government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, the Government 's press release used the old name which mentions Nagaland instead of Nagalim.

On the other hand, the Government of Manipur has issued a statement that the agreement does not apply to Manipur, either formally or informally. Thus, problems relating to the cease-fire remain. These relate to the coverage of the area. The Government of Manipur probably apprehends, that the Naga populated areas of the State would be ceded to Nagaland in any final settlement. It is opposed to any such prospect. However, the issue at present is not the final shape of the things to come for which the talks have yet to start, but the continuation of the cease-fire. All peace-loving Indians would desire that the Manipur Government join the Government of India in the endeavour to end the violence in all the Naga areas. No Government should be afraid of the peace.

The General Secretary of the PUCL has written a letter to this effect to the Chief Minister of Manipur.

 

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(PUCL Bulletin, Sept., 2000)