Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a peace accord on Monday with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) faction, an armed rebel group, paving the way to end the country's oldest insurgency.
The terms of the agreement were not immediately known. PM Modi is expected to make a statement regarding the matter in Parliament soon.
But under the broad framework of the peace settlement, the Naga leadership has given up its demand for integration of the Naga inhabited areas under one administration, and has accepted the primacy of the Indian Constitution, the sources said.
On its part, New Delhi has said it accepts the "uniqueness of the Naga history and culture" and indicated its willingness to give Nagas living outside Nagaland autonomy in governance.
Announcing the settlement in a special address to the nation, PM Modi said, "Today is historic, a golden moment, when they quit weapons and join the mainstream. I welcome them".
Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of the NSCN-IM, who was there along with home minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, thanked PM Modi.
"The Nagas will forever remember you for your statesmanship," he said, adding, "Under Modi we have come close to understanding each other and have worked out a new relation."
The Naga insurgency is six decades old. The NSCN-IM, one of the several separatist groups in the north-east, has been fighting for an independent, ethnic Naga homeland uniting parts of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and areas of Myanmar, with which it shares a border.
The key demand for Greater Nagalim - as it was called -- was a major stumbling block for any agreement. "Integration was not possible and there will be territorial boundaries of the any state, a senior official said, adding, "Naga leadership and New Delhi had shown pragmatism in appreciating each others compulsions." "Integration isn't part of this agreement," he added
New Delhi, which has been in talks with NSCM-IM since 1997, indicated that it was willing to consider that the Autonomous Hill Councils to give Nagas outside Nagaland a greater say in deciding their immediate governance.
The NSCN-K, the breakaway faction of the NSCN, however, was not part of the settlement. The faction, which broke away in 1998, is believed to have been behind the attack on an Army convoy in June, in which 18 soldiers died.
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