Reconciliation, hope mark 2012 in Nagaland

Kohima: Yearning for a permanent settlement to the prolonged political conflict and consistent efforts towards consolidating reconciliation among the Nagas marked the year 2012 in Nagaland. Elected representatives, cutting across party lines, expressed their commitment in no uncertain terms towards a permanent settlement to the vexed issue while the churches and civil societies made continued efforts to bring about understanding among Naga underground groups to have a unified voice on the Naga political question.

All the 60 members of the state assembly under the fold of Joint Legislators Forum (JLF), led by Speaker Keyanilie Peseyie and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, met central leaders and expressed their readiness to resign from their positions for paving the way for an alternative arrangement in the event of a political settlement of the Naga problem. They demanded a negotiated settlement should be found before the assembly elections, slated for early next year. Although no official statements about the contours of the ongoing peace talks have come from either side, both the Centre and the NSCN-IM maintained that the political discussions were “heading towards right direction” and the negotiating parties could able to “narrow down differences” on various issues keeping open for further parleys on some “contentious” issues. One of the important developments on the economic front was the finalisation of modalities for exploitation of oil and other mineral resources in the state after a series of consultations with various stakeholders. The fresh modalities were endorsed by the state assembly and subsequently the government issued a notification.

The Forum for Naga Re-conciliation (FNR), a body comprising churches, tribal councils and civil society groups, continued its efforts towards bringing about reconciliation among the underground groups. Amid the Naga women’s strong assertion for their constitutional and political rights throughout the year, the state government continued its efforts on development fronts, particularly in creating opportunities for self employments and self-sufficiency in agri and allied sectors.

However, Opposition Congress charged the Naga People’s Front (NPF) government with indulging in large-scale corruption, nepotism, favouritism and misuse of generous central funds. With the state government’s refusal to hold the municipal elections with 33 per cent reservation for women, Naga women went to the high court demanding its intervention but the court upheld the state’s position and the assembly resolution in this regard. The women then approached the Supreme Court. The state government argued that the quota for women is contrary to the Naga customary laws and practices which have been safeguarded by the Article 371 (A) of the Constitution. Recognising the grievances of the border people, the state assembly in a resolution asked the government to initiate special measures for socio-economic development of four districts of eastern Nagaland but did not support the idea of further division of a small state like Nagaland. While fixing the annual plan size for the current fiscal, the Planning Commission allocated a special grant of Rs 300 crore for the four border districts. (PTI)