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Muivah wants spl federal ties with India

Muivah wants spl federal ties with India

Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 29, 2005

Speaking to Karan Thapar in HARDtalk India about the position reached at the end of 41 rounds of dialogue with the Indian Government, which started in 1997 when the NSCN (I-M), the biggest and best known outfit fighting for Naga independence, declared a ceasefire, he said:

"We can come as close as possible but it's not possible for the Nagas to come within the Indian Union or within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Why? Because it amounts to dismissing the whole history of the Nagas and the Nagas cannot do that ... Nagaland was never a part of India either by conquest by India or by consent of the Nagas."

Speaking about sovereignty, which he said belongs "to the Naga people and to the Naga people alone", Mr Muivah went on to speak about "a special federal relationship" with India but not within India:

"Sovereignty of the Naga people belongs to the Naga people and to the Naga people alone. There cannot be otherwise. So long as that is there adjustments can be made... When we say a special federal relationship it has to be on the terms of the agreement that can be arrived at ... It should be a federation of India and Nagalim (Greater Nagaland). Within the Indian Constitution is not possible."

Asked if Delhi would have control over defence, external affairs, communication and currency he replied: "In some aspect you are right... Yes, you are right but we haven't (as yet) settled those kind of questions... It's in the process of being worked out. It may be a little bit too early on my part to make pronouncements on that."

The General Secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M) confirmed that all other powers would rest with the government in Kohima and his proposed state would have its own constitution to determine how these powers are exercised. He also confirmed that these powers would exceed those presently granted by New Delhi to other Indian states because Nagaland would wish to have its own state control over subjects such as wildlife, forests, environment, education and culture. At the moment these subjects are on the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution. Mr. Muivah also confirmed that his proposed state wished to have its own flag, stamps and the right to set up tourist and trade offices abroad.

When asked if the Indian leadership agreed to make all of this possible within the ambit of the Indian Constitution whether he would be prepared to accept the Constitution, Mr. Muivah answered with an emphatic no and explained that he could not trust future generations of politicians not to amend the Constitution.

However, Mr. Muivah told the BBC that whatever agreement was reached with the Indian Government would need constitutional backing: "The agreement which is going to be arrived at should be incorporated in the Indian constitution (and) equally it should be incorporated in the Naga constitution."

Mr Muivah maintained that his position on the Indian constitution was not contradicted by the fact that he is presently travelling on an Indian passport: "In filling up the forms I specifically mentioned that loyalty or allegiance to the Indian Constitution is not applicable. It's not acceptable."

In the interview Mr Muivah also confirmed that with regard to his second demand for the integration of all Naga areas outside the present boundaries of Nagaland with Nagaland what he was today asking for is "recognition of the legitimacy of the people's aspirations for Naga integration and a reasonable time frame for its implementation." Under specific questioning Mr Muivah twice confirmed that what he was asking for was an in-principle agreement recognising Naga aspirations for integration and thereafter was willing to grant the Indian Government reasonable time to implement it.

Asked if given the emotional nature and intractable quality of the whole land integration issue Mr. Muivah would accept referral to a states reorganisation commission or a states boundary commission, he was at first skeptical:

"That is up to the Indians if they can do that. The problem is that Nagas are skeptical. Why? Because whenever any issue arose in the past Government of India took sides with the others not with the Nagas. Always that happened."

However, in further questioning Mr. Muivah seemed to indicate that if such a referral would produce the desired result and if all Naga areas were considered he would be prepared to accept it. In the interview, Mr Muivah said that the slogan 'Nagaland for Christ' did not mean that he intended to set up a theocratic state :"Because more than 95 per cent of the population is Christian naturally they have to profess that way .... It (Nagalim or Greater Nagaland) has to be secular. If it is not secular then we will be betraying ourselves."

Asked if he had a deadline in mind or if the talks with the Indian government could go on indefinitely Mr. Muivah replied: "It's too early to talk about it (a deadline)." Asked if this meant that he was prepared to give the Indian Government more time, he replied: "Yes, but we should not be too presumptuous. Things can go wrong any time." However, Mr. Muivah did say that progress is being made : "Slowly, slowly but not on big issues."

[Note from Hindu Vivek Kendra: The concept of Nagalim has a history of more than 50 years, when the Christian population was less than 50% in Nagaland]

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