New Delhi: An affirmative Prime Minister running the state of affairs has made all the difference.
The central government is alarmed by the fact that the potent Naga group, NSCN (IM) led by mercurial Thuingaleng Muivah, continues to keep its channel of communication with China and also at times taking ‘directives’ and ‘logistic support’.
Lately, the inputs from various agencies suggested that the Chinese agencies have been mounting pressure on the ageing militant leader Muivah to delay the ‘peace process’ and coincidentally these signals came in mid-June when both Indian army and Chinese forces clashed and suffered casualties at Galwan valley.
“Apparently, the Chinese authorities and agencies are not happy that the Naga peace talks being put on the fast track. A peace breakthrough at this juncture by September end (2020) or so would give a global message that the peace has been attained by the Modi government notwithstanding India-China boundary skirmishes. It will only show that China can no longer be an elder brother in the region,” an analyst aware of developments told ‘Organiser’.
Sources clarified that there is ‘no chance’ of New Delhi giving in to such pressure tactics or delay processes.
Senior intelligence officials are meeting Muivah and other leaders in Delhi for the last 10 days but no commitment or assurance are being made.
At the top level, NSA Ajit Doval is personally monitoring the developments, and the PMO is firm about a Final Peace Accord by September end.
India and China are ‘competitors’ of the same turf, the analyst explained adding on its domestic front, things are not healthy for Xi Jinping, and thus if peace is brokered in the northeast of India especially with the potent NSCN(IM), it will be like “egg on the face”.
It is obvious, the Chinese agencies have been trying to influence the NSCN(IM) and also a faction of the ULFA.
Beijing does not want permanent peace in the region, sources said.
The Naga peace process has reached its final stage and the influential NNPG, an umbrella organisation of seven groups operating within the state of Nagaland, is all set to ink the final peace accord at the earliest.
These developments have ‘isolated’ the NSCN (IM), especially the Tangkhul leadership among Nagas – who reside mostly in hilly pockets of Manipur.
The BJP-ruled Manipur has ruled out any kind of bifurcation of the state, and thus the concept of ‘greater Nagaland’ pushed by NSCN(IM) since the 1990s has already been ‘rejected and defeated’ by New Delhi.
Sanguine that no final settlement is arrived at, the NSCN(IM) and its chief Muivah, now 86, have raised the twin bogies of Flag and Constitution.
“All efforts and persuasion from different quarters and also some pressure built up by various NGOs are failing on Muivah and his team. Are they prepared to go back to jungles remains to be seen?,” the analyst pointed out adding since 1997 the NSCN(IM) is involved in peace talks and has developed a liking for an easy and comfortable life.
Hence, sources say the ‘guerilla warfare’ may not be an easy option for most of its cadres.
It is the fact that the Government of India has been arranging ‘kid gloves and green carpet treatment’ for the NSCN(IM) leadership both in Nagaland and New Delhi in the last 23 years of peace parleys has changed the ‘working atmosphere and lifestyle of the cadres’.
However, as the pressure from the ‘Chinese friends’ mounted almost coinciding with the Indian army getting engaged with the Chinese forces; the NSCN(IM) has toughened its stance.
On September 18, there was a clear setback to all efforts for reconciliation as the NSCN(IM) issued a statement from its headquarters saying a separate Naga flag and constitution “must form a part of the Indo-Naga political solution”.
No Prime Minister or elected government(s) in New Delhi worth their salt can give up on these two key facets especially because only in August 2019, Prime Minister Modi’s government has done away with Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir with so much of fanfare.
Therefore, a well-informed source said, there are reasons to believe that efforts are on from China to sabotage the process.
Another source in the ruling BJP also said it is a matter of concern that the Chinese agencies are keeping a close watch on the process of peace talks and latest developments since mid-June.
Giving the contest, the source said even during the UPA regime in 2011-12, Chinese agents including a woman posing as a TV journalist reportedly visited the headquarters of the NSCN-IM near Dimapur and held a three-hour-long meeting with Muivah.
Around the same time and also little later around 2004, Muivah had told an Indian TV channel that: “I have great respect for Chinese leaders and Chinese people….They tried to understand our point of view”.
Old-timers among the security agency sleuths say in 1966-67, China not only had backed the Naxalites upspring in parts of West Bengal, in the same year Muivah and his other colleagues went to Yunnan province. The Naga group was even initially called ‘Naga National Volunteers’.
The contemporary history of Nagas has come a long way since then.