Kohima, May 31: Former union home secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai expressed optimism that if the Modi-led NDA government at the Centre could sort out some of the pending issues of the long-drawn Naga peace talks, it would be able to bring an honourable and acceptable solution to the decades-old Naga political issue within a year.
Pillai, who is currently on a private visit to the state said this in an exclusive interview to Nagaland Post at The Heritage here on Saturday.
The former union home secretary was also optimistic that the development of trust and understanding built between then Interlocutor R.S. Pandey (who quit to join BJP on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections) with Th. Muivah and NSCN ( I-M) delegation. He said both sides were able to satisfactorily resolve a number of contentious issues in 2013 but the then UPA government, for whatever reasons, did not want to take any risk.
Pillai’s optimism stemmed from the decisive majority of the new BJP government at the centre and home minister Rajnath Singh’s affirmation that the government would accord top priority to internal security.
With over 50 rounds of negotiations between the government of India and the NSCN (I-M) during the 17-year old cease fire period, Pillai said he hoped that by July this year, the new government would reappoint R.S. Pandey as its Interlocutor in the rank of minister of state so that he (Pandey) would be able to acquaint and sensitise the central ministers to push forward for a negotiated settlement within a year.
The former union home secretary also said much remained to be done for giving a definite shape to the proposed agreement so that it could be acceptable to the Nagas after which legislation and amendment to the Indian constitution could be followed.
“We don’t want disagreement between Naga organistions or groups and therefore any final settlement should be respect and honour the history of the Nagas”, Pillai said.
On a newspaper report that Isak Chishi Swu was to be made chief minister of Nagaland as part of the agreement, Pillai clarified that such a stage has not arrived.
He said since the Joint Legislators Forum of Nagaland resolved to resign if any solution was arrived at, Pillai said the government of India would also not raise any objection in such an event but added, it was not discussed during the negotiations.
To a query on solution involving Nagas in Manipur and Th. Muivah, Pillai said it all depended on the Nagas in Manipur since the discussions were focussed on Autonomy for the hill districts of Manipur. He said once the autonomy package was finalized, “the rest will follow within the normal democratic process of elections and others”.
On the fate of the armed cadres after solution, the former union home secretary said these would largely depend on the contours of the solution with regard to rehabilitation, demobilisation of the cadres and decommissioning of weaponry. Pillai said in practice, armed cadres were normally inducted into police or paramilitary forces while others could be given suitable alternative packages or rehabilitation in other jobs etc.
On the stand of the NSCN (K) with regard to Naga sovereignty, he said the group has reconciled itself with the Myanmarese government where Nagas in that country have been elected to the Myanmar parliament.
He said Nagas in Myanmar have become part of the parliamentary democracy and constitution of Myanmar. Pillai said there would be no borders between Nagas of India and Myanmar since both countries were going to have free border trade, improved communication and visa-less travel within two to five years.
On the poll pledge by BJP leaders during the Lok Sabha campaign, to grant statehood to ENPO areas, Pillai said since the NDA government has promised top priority on economic development, focus on budget and internal security, it would be too early to comment on ENPO demand.
He said infrastructure development of ENPO areas would have to be initiated by the state government as it was one of the main issues that had resulted in the feeling of neglect.