Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland(The Hindu)
Mains Paper 3: Defense and Security
Prelims level: Article 371A(1)(b)
Mains level: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Governor R.N. Ravi has written a strong letter to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, alleging that “law and order has collapsed” in the State.
And that armed gangs “who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation” had challenged its authority by engaging in blatant “extortion” and siphoningoff funds meant for development work.
Governor R.N. Ravi has thrown down the gauntletto the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party-led government, in which the BJP is a coalition partner.
The Governor went on to write that functions such as “transfer and posting of officials” who are in charge of law and order above the district level will be done with his approval, as proposed under Article 371A(1)(b) of the Constitution.
In a way, he was only voicing the concerns of sections of civil society over the slide in law and order; illegal collections by armed groups have been an issue for several years.
The insurgent National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been observing a ceasefire with the government for the last 23 years.
In its response to the letter, (NSCN-IM) has said the group was only engaged in collecting “taxes”, suggesting that the Governor was not inaccurate in his description.
But his letter has put the State government in a difficult situation.
Naga Peace Talks:
The Naga peace talks refer to talks undertaken between the Indian government and the various stakeholders in Nagaland to resolve decades-old disputes.
Some of these issues date back to the colonial era. According to reports, the demand for a Greater Nagaland, or Nagalim— covering Nagaland, its neighboring states and even parts of Myanmar— has been an important part of Naga nationalism.
It's a demand being made for decades, and was first crystallized via the formation of a Naga Club in 1918.
The Naga Club had reportedly told the Simon Commission that the Nagas should be left alone "to determine for ourselves as in ancient times".
On August 14, 1947, the Naga National Council (NNC) led by Angami Zapu Phizo declared Nagaland an independent state.
Phizo also formed an underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA) in 1952, which the Indian government sought to crush by sending in the Army in Nagaland and enacting the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, or AFSPA.
The resulting insurgency has, over the course of decades, resulted in the killing of thousands of people, including civilians.
Nagaland Peace Accord:
Nagaland Peace Accord is the accord signed-in on 3 August 2015 by the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland to end the insurgency.
The much toutedpeace accord with the insurgent groups involved in the long-standing Naga conflict is yet to be achieved, despite the Centre’s push to conclude it last year.
Mr. Ravi has remained the Centre’s interlocutor, a position he took up in 2015, even after becoming the State Governor in August 2019.
Despite the Centre’s heady statements heralding a Naga peace accord since 2015, it is nowhere close to finalising it with the groups.
In some ways, this is due to the NSCN-IM’s obstinacysuch as its insistence on retaining a separate flag and a Constitution for the State of Nagaland.
Also, because of its unwillingness to dismantle its parallel administrative and paramilitary structure.
It invokes distrust among other Naga organisations besides other north-eastern governments because of its core ideology of a “greater Nagalim”.
The inherent difficulties in getting other insurgent actors on board have made this a conflict that persists despite the ceasefire and a problem that does not lend itself to a quick solution.
Yet, without an agreement to rein(control) in all the insurgent groups, the State government will have little leeway in imposing its will and prevent the blatant extortion that is hampering development and law and order.
The ball is therefore in the Centre’s court, and by extension its interlocutor, Mr. Ravi’s, in finding a way to address this knotty issue.
This the Governor must do, not by usurpingthe authority of the State government in governance matters, but by patiently refocusing on the peace process.
A final Naga peace accord is key to maintenance of law and order in the State