KOHIMA: There was much bonhomie on display when the chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur visited Kisama, the venue of the annual Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, on December 5. While the two CMs spoke of the similarities between their states and Nagaland, both of them steered clear of the Naga Peace Framework that could possibly see large parts of their states being carved to become part of the Greater Nagaland that rebel forces have been fighting for for decades.

The Naga Peace Accord, a framework agreement between the Government of India and the Isak-Chishi faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) to help find a peaceful solution to the issue ‘independence’ of areas traditionally populated by Naga tribes, was signed in August 2015. After years of guerrilla warfare, factional infighting and continually renewed ceasefire agreements, the Accord was seen as a major step in the BJP government’s efforts to find a lasting and peaceful solution.

However, two years since the Accord was signed, its details remain shrouded in mystery.

Ever since the Accord was announced, political analysts and news outlets have constantly and continuously speculated on the possible details of the agreement.

From a new currency to partial independence, the details of the agreement have been speculated upon from all angles.

The NSCN-IM’s general secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah, has repeatedly said that the agreement will be respectable of its long-standing demand, although he too has given out little detail.

One of the most contentious issues relating to the Accord are concerns that territories that are part of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur will have to be ceded to become part of a Greater Nagaland.

Even before the announcement of the Accord, state governments and civil society organisations from the three states have always said that they will not accept any deal that infringes on their territory.

Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, recently tried to assuage fears and concerns when he met the chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur in Kolkata on December 7 telling them that their states’ boundaries will not be infringed upon. His ‘assurance’ to the chief ministers came just a day before his arrival at Nagaland’s capital, Kohima, where he attended the annual Hornbill Festival.

Before arriving at Kohima, Singh spoke to journalists at Nagaland’s commercial hub, Dimapur, but dodged questions relating to the Framework Agreement and the ongoing talks between the various Naga nationalist groups and the Centre through interlocutor RN Ravi.

Even in the capital, Singh said that New Delhi was ‘committed’ to fulfil the aspirations of the Naga people but made no direct mention of the Framework Agreement.

Singh and the Centre’s dilemma is compounded by the fact that the BJP is in power in the three states which may have their territories compromised. Ceding any part of the states’ land will no doubt witness large-scale opposition and New Delhi is well aware of that.

The chief ministers of the other three states have voiced their concerns regarding the Framework Agreement and the BJP government in the Centre will have its work cut out if it is to maintain a balance and at the same time ensure that voices within the Naga nationalist movement remain satisfied.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the Khaplang faction of the NSCN has so far stayed away from the talks and is not in any ceasefire agreement with New Delhi.

Ever since the death of its enigmatic leader, SS Khaplang, earlier this year, the NSCN-K has come under pressure from Indian security forces in remote forested areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. The outfit too however, has reportedly hit back at security forces in these areas.

Nagaland’s own political scenario too has become a cagey affair due to infighting within the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF).

Disagreement over allowing a 33-percent reservation for women in municipal elections led to a political crisis that witnessed TR Zeliang being ousted as chief minister and replaced by NPF president, Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsu, only to return to the post with the tacit support of former chief minister and Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP, Neiphiu Rio, who political watchers here say harbours aspirations to become chief minister again.

With the current talks reaching its final stages, the two sides have ‘reconciled’. On December 8, a Memorandum of Reconciliation was signed between the two sides. However, media reports here suggest that factionalism still remains within the NPF as 12 of its MLAs reportedly still do not owe allegiance to either Zeliang or Liezietsu.

Politicians in the state have also been calling for the Framework Agreement to be finalised and put in place before the state elections that is scheduled to be held early next year.

The Agreement has been dubbed as a ‘Christmas Gift’ for Nagas. If the Agreement does come into force before December 25 and if all sides, including people from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur, are satisfied, it would indeed be a Christmas miracle.