News Excerpt
For the first time since the signing of the Naga Framework Agreement of 2015, NSCN (I-M) said the Naga flag and constitution were non-negotiable.

Pre-Connect
•    The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.
•    One key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim that would cover not only the state of Nagaland but parts of neighbouring states, and even of Myanmar.
•    The British had annexed Assam in 1826, in which they subsequently created the Naga Hills district and went on to extend its boundaries.
•    The assertion of Naga nationalism, which began during British rule, has continued after Independence, and even after Nagaland became a state.

Peace talks in recent years
    1975: A peace accord was signed in Shillong in which the NNC leadership agreed to give up arms.
    1997: NSCN (I-M) signed a ceasefire agreement. Key agreement was that there would be no counter-insurgency offensive against NSCN (I-M), who in turn would not attack Indian forces.
    2015: The Centre signed a framework agreement with the NSCN(I-M). This set the stage for the ongoing peace talks.
    The government and the NSCN (I-M) have failed to agree on issues relating to a separate Naga flag and a constitution.

Analytica
    Since 2015, the engagement with other Naga groups has increased, even if the NSCN (I-M) is perceived as the major rebel organisation.
    The differences between the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) and the NSCN (I-M) are not insignificant.
    The NSCN (I-M) still insists on a “Greater Nagalim” beyond the boundaries of Nagaland State besides seeking a flag and constitution.
    Most of the NNPGs based in Nagaland on the other hand have sought to settle the issue without disturbing the State boundaries while keeping the “Greater Nagalim” question in abeyance.
    Any moves to alter boundaries will intensify ethnic conflicts and insurgencies beyond Nagaland, especially in Manipur.
    The Central government needs to take their concerns on board and reiterate its commitment to finalising the Naga accord while seeking to re-engage with the NSCN (I-M) without giving in to its arbitrary demands.

Way forward
The Centre could do well to step back from its rigid position of forcing an agreement that a major political stakeholder is not willing to ink. The government will have to tread cautiously in tackling the situation lest a variant of the pre-1997 militancy returns to the State. That would be a retrograde development, especially given the last 22 years of hard-fought peace.