Government signs peace pact with Naga insurgent group NSCN

Editor1 Oct 17 2021 Current Affairs

The Union government signed a fresh ceasefire pact with Niki Sumi-led Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) in New Delhi. The development is seen as a fillip to the ongoing Naga peace process for which the Centre is holding peace talks with NSCN (IM) and a conglomeration of seven Naga nationalist political groups (NNPGs).

The new ceasefire agreement is for a period of one year with effect from September 8, 2021. The agreement is subject to adherence to the existing ceasefire ground rules signed by the two sides.

The ceasefire agreement was signed by Union home ministry’s additional secretary (NE) Piyush Goyal on behalf of the central government while Nikato Pilot Sumi and Abel Zingru Thuer signed for NSCN (K) Niki group.

A home ministry statement said the ceasefire agreement is a significant step in Naga peace process and making the Northeast insurgency-free.

The NSCN (K) in 2015 unilaterally abrogated its 2001 ceasefire agreement with the Centre, after which the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) declared the group as an outlawed outfit.

While speculations are rife over the Niki-led NSCN (K)’s move calling truce with the Centre, people aware of the matter, said the group was firm to remain a separate entity. However, the onus is on the Centre to decide whether it would ask the NSCN (K) to either join hands with the NSCN (IM) or the NNPGs in the peace talks, or to start talks with the group afresh.

The latter would mean the Centre get into negotiations with the group and perhaps even sign another accord, which might prolong the protracted Naga political issue.

However, the coming of the Niki-led NSCN (K) into ceasefire with the Centre is also seen as a positive move for the Naga peace process as the Naga civil society has been appealing to all the political groups to come together and eliminate issues so as to bring the long-pending Naga political issue to an honourable and an acceptable settlement.

The development comes days after a tripartite agreement among five insurgent groups of Assam, the Centre and the state government was signed to end years of violence in the Karbi Anglong region.

After abrogating the ceasefire agreement with the government of India in 2015, the NSCN (K) led by its leader SS Khaplang went on to establish a strong base in neighbouring Myanmar. However, Khaplang died of a cardiac arrest at Taga in 2017 in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region under Naga self-administered zone. Subsequently, the group, which was taken over by Khaplang’s relative Yung Aung split into different factions, of which the Niki-led NSCN (K) is one.

Niki Sumi is a prime accused in the ambush on the Indian Army in Manipur which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers and charges have not been dropped yet. The National Investigation Agency had announced a reward of 10 lakh on Niki Sumi.

The NSCN (K) operates to establish a sovereign state bringing all Naga inhabited areas of Myanmar and India under one administrative setup.

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