Subject: Recognition of undivided Naga territory and grant of Self-governing Associate Statehood to the Nagas as a win- win Indo-Naga solution based on Framework Agreement, 2015.
The signatories with the given factual premise honorably draw the urgent attention of your good office which is vested with special responsibility to sincerely resolve the underlying core issues of the ongoing Indo- Naga political negotiation:
1. That , a rapidly rising India under your strong, visionary, humane and dynamic leadership can transform this painful historical course into a new horizon of goodwill, trust, co-operation, peaceful co-existence and lawful association between India and the Nagas as two entities in this new millennium. It is notably the most opportune time for the Hon’ble Prime Minister to kindly fulfill the assurance you made to the Nagas for a new era of freedom, mutual respect, friendship , partnership and prosperity on august 3, 2015, a historic day of signing the Framework Agreement ( FA) between the Government of India (GOI) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland, NSCN (IM) .
It may kindly be noted that despite the killings of many Naga armies by Indian armed forces since the signing of ceasefire in 1997, Naga armies on their part have not touched even one Indian army as a gesture of their maturity and genuine commitment to peace and political solution. This led to the dramatic yielding of peace, goodwill and trust in the whole Indian sub- continent. How can India afford to destroy and forfeit these hard earned peace, goodwill and trust that has dawned a new bright common future?
2. That , the Naga struggle for recognition of undivided Naga territorial homeland and her nationhood has reached 91 years since the Naga Club’s submission of Naga memoranda to Simon Commission on 10th Jan, 1929 asserting that Nagas be left alone to determine their own future. Naga Peoples’ Declaration of Independence on 14th August, 1947 a day ahead of India and the 99.9 % verdict of Naga plebiscite of May 16, 1951 thereby rejecting to join the Union of India and the then Burma( Myanmar) are indestructible Naga national history. This 1951 verdict reaffirmed the Naga Independence Declaration ,1947 which is said to be the unique histo- political and national foundation of the Nagas laid down under the aegis of the then Naga National Council ( NNC) led by (L) A.Z. Phizo who is still fondly remembered as the father of Naga nation.
3. That, the primary reasons why Indo-Naga permanent solution could not be worked out till date despite so many attempts in the past nearly 74 years is due to the extremely rigid political stands adopted by the negotiating parties of both sides. Whereas the Govt. of India wanted Nagaland to be a full-fledged Indian state to be governed by the constitution of India , Nagas on the other hand firmly insisted for full sovereignty and independence based on its unique historical and political rights . It may kindly be reminded that attempts made in the Naga-Akbar Hyderi Accord, 1947, 16- Point Agreement, 1960, Indo- Naga Peace talk of 1964 and Shillong Accord, 1975 could not resolve the Indo- Naga political conflict due to the said extreme stands.
It may also kindly be noted that the recent trend of India’s unilateral abrogation and/or causing obsolescence of the outputs of her historical Treaties/ Agreements has instilled a sense of insecurity to the Nagas for signing any Agreement unless such Agreements are so expressively put to detailed construction having defining & interpretative clauses with legal efficacy thereby leaving no room for ambiguity. Abrogation of Article 370 & 35A that removed Jammu & Kashmir’s special status including its flag and constitution is one glaring example of the emerging trend although Nagas’ case is a different situation to be dealt with extra-territorial jurisdiction outside the Union of India as reflected in the Framework Agreement of 2015. Clause 2 & 13 of the 16-Point Agreement which respectively provide for the present state of Nagaland to be put under the in- charge of Ministry of External Affairs ( MEA) and the integration of contiguous Naga areas under one administrative area, if Nagas so desire , are now completely reduced to mockery with no relevance . This Agreement too could not solve the Naga problem as Naga peoples and Naga national organizations outrightly rejected it.
4. That, it may herein be mentioned that many attempts of the past to resolve the Naga issue within the Union of India under the purview of Article 3, 4, and 7th Schedule r/w Article 245 and 246 of the constitution of India have miserably failed . This is because despite their logistic disadvantages, Nagas are truly national minded who firmly believed that a complete merger either with India or Myanmar will entirely destroy and forfeit the sacred Naga national foundation, territorial integrity and very hard earned national identity of the Nagas. It will also forfeit Nagas’ membership to Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization (UNPO), Hague, Netherlands wherein Nagas have been admitted based on the criteria that Nagas are a long struggling indigenous nation yet to be recognized as UN member. Hence, Naga issue cannot be put at par with post-independent intra-territorial problems of other ethnic minorities/peoples within India. Naga issue is histo-politically an external matter of India.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, it may kindly be noted that tremendous sacrifices of more than 2 lakhs precious lives of the Nagas, loss of billions worth properties and immense collateral damages in the past nearly 74 years of Naga national struggle cannot be undermined at all. Nagas could have easily solved their problems like any other princely states / territories within the Union of India even without sacrificing a single soul if not for their abiding love of their nationhood. There could have been even 2/3 Naga states in India or all contiguous Naga territories being integrated under one administrative umbrella had the Nagas dropped their nationality issue long time back. The Constitution of India clearly permits reorganizing or restructuring of states / UTs. There were only 14 states and 6 UTs which were created by virtue of India’s first State Reorganizations Act, 1956 on ethno- linguistic basis. Telangana state was the 29th state of India created in 2014. Considering the vast geo-political and socio- economic conditions, India may have 40-45 states by the year 2050. Therefore, the issue of complete merger either in India or Myanmar which Nagas apprehend that it will ultimately destroy their nationality is a non-negotiable subject. The issue of merger in India having reference to the Naga plebiscite of 1951 be dealt with once for all only by conducting a new Naga Referendum if at all required and not by way of negotiation.The underlying issues of negotiation, therefore, strictly confines to de jure recognition of Naga territory, finding a workable model of its new political status with international bearing and, sharing of sovereign powers (competencies) with India.
5. That, the ruling government of BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under your noble and capable leadership could changed the olden narrative of extremity, rigidity and exclusivity between India and the Nagas by signing the aforesaid historic Framework Agreement of 2015. The recognition of the unique history and position of the Nagas in the F.A. literally means India’s recognition of Naga territory and its nationality which is not an integral part of India. It essentially and logically means and includes the recognition of the legitimacy of the Naga national history of struggle that includes, inter alia, Naga memoranda of 1929, Naga Independence Declaration, 1947 and Naga plebiscite of 1951 which sustained the movement till date . Another very prominent feature of F.A. is that despite Nagas’ legitimate right to be fully an independent state, it was however mutually agreed that sovereign powers, as defined in the competencies, would be shared between the two entities and begin to establish a new relationship to promote peaceful co-existence. The literal, logical and grammatical interpretation of the said principles collaborated by historical facts and circumstantial materials altogether finds universal cognizance in as much as FA signifies the recognition of the unincorporated Naga territorial entity whose political status will come to 1 step down from complete independence and 1 step up from complete merger in India as a full-fledged Indian state. In such a given position, Naga flag & constitution is the prerogative of the Nagas. These two ingredients are inherent part of a nationality already recognized by FA which are fundamental for symbolizing the Naga national identity and determining the system and structure of Naga self-government. India can at the best protect, help, guide and endorse a vibrant and democratic constitution (Yezabo) for the Nagas.
6. That, as noted above , the shared sovereignty concept which is the key principle of FA if correctly construed, is considered the most workable and acceptable middle path win-win approach compatible to the changing contemporary reality of interdependence around the world and more particularly between India and the Nagas as much as it envisage a self governing Associate Statehood ( unincorporated territory) for the Nagas who would freely & lawfully associate with India by sharing her sovereign powers ( Defense, External affairs , Finance, currency , communication, trade and commerce , 3-tier citizenship , etc.) As aforesaid, the constitution of India sanctions the concept of shared sovereignty and/ or free political association with other territory under Article 260 r/w article 2 & Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947. These laws empower India for extra-territorial administration whereby it can acquire any executive, legislative, or judicial functions of a territory outside India by arriving an Agreement with the government of that territory. Although many Nagas also prefer for state of Palestine model with “UN observer state status”, it is a considered view that Self-governing Associate state of Cook Island – New Zealand model may best fit the Naga case as it has to actively associate and share sovereign competencies with India as clearly agreed in the FA and its detailed workout. This will also enable the future restoration of Naga territories in Myanmar under one administrative entity. It may kindly be mentioned that Nagas may ultimately be left out with no other option but be compelled to seek Self-governing Associate statehood in Myanmar if India this time too adamantly continue to backtrack the implementation of FA in letter and spirit like it did in the case of Naga-Akbar Hyderi Agreement in 1947.
7. That , the Nagas still hope and believe that , Shri, Modiji, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India who is a world class leader with strong global influence will truly love justice, peace, freedom and humanity for others especially the long struggling Nagas as much as you love it for yourself and your country.
It is to further state that the prevailing crisis of Indo- Naga political talk that has reached more than 23 years can be resolved only when contents of FA are correctly construed and worked out the competencies in detail by a more competent and larger Indian negotiation team possessing legal and political expertise with broader international outlook and personalities. The old Naga national issue which predated Indian independence and the formation of UNO may kindly be treated as an external matter of India as contained in the Framework Agreement 2015.
In the premises above noted, your Honor is kindly requested to :
- Cause de jure recognition of undivided Naga territory as an “Associate State” to establish a new relationship with India by sharing Sovereign powers between the two entities as envisaged in the Framework Agreement ,2015.
- Ensure for a broad and inclusive single Agreement of all Naga Stake holders who are in dialogue with the Government of India.
- Upgrade the Indian negotiation team by inclusion of more members with political and legal expertise and representatives from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) led by an able Interlocutor of high integrity with broader international outlook to enable the finishing touch of the structural details and other relative workout of the Framework Agreement.
- Actively pursue real and lasting peace through the principle of peace & non-violence until a win-win solution is mutually arrived at.
1. Y.L. Ramgui, Convenor,
2. P. Vanmi, Co-Convenor,
Naga Indigenous Peoples Alliance
Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs (MEA), New Delhi, GOI
for kind information and reference.