Post Mortem

Wasted years

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/25/2019 12:34:03 PM IST

 One cannot but admire the exquisiteness of Nagaland which nature, in a special way, has bestowed upon with natural beauties. Fair Nagaland, however, is burdened with too many social ills, the accumulation of which are ultimately threatening the very identity of the Naga people. Eradicating the social ills is not an impossibility but will only be possible by acknowledging, understanding and addressing the root of the problem. There is no denying the truth that the long years of the Naga political movement has devastated the Naga way of life and the native Naga polity, and, therein, lies the root of our problems.

Some days back, Khekiye K. Sema, in his article, “Getting our house in order,” had lamented that Nagas have indifferently been trying to go forward on a back-gear in our dealing with the Indo-Naga dialogue. One does agree with him that bickering among ourselves even as we strive for a solution to the Indo-Naga issue is akin to trying to go forward on a back gear.

However, on hindsight, it is also true that the way to go forward is by engaging the back gear and transporting ourselves back to the time in the mid 1970s when the Nagaland Peace Council (NPC) had involved itself with much concern not only to stop fighting in Nagaland, but to build up moral and spiritual life in the souls of the Naga people and the Naga leaders. The NPC, under the Presidentship of Rev. Longri Ao, had worked with the conviction that there can be no political life that is not permeated with the principles of true religion, and that there can be no real patriotism that is not Christian in spirit and no real government that is not based upon righteous law, guaranteeing fullest freedom and security for the people. What Rev. Longri said in 1976 rings so true today. He had said that the absence of war does not necessarily mean peace and that the peace we long for so much can come only through the creation of an atmosphere of mutual trust, mutual love, goodwill and friendship among people of all sections.

For all these years, many of the younger generation Nagas (including this not so young writer) had believed that the Shillong Accord of 1975 was a sellout. It is only today that we understand and realize that the NPC had way back then recognized the political reality of the coming times and had sincerely designed the Naga polity with political foresight and wisdom so as to preserve and refine Naga indigenous on native Naga polity in tune with modern concept of democracy.

We today see that Rev. Longri Ao and his team in the NPC had taken the initiative to usher peace in the land after the Naga political problem had defied solution for over twenty years and there was continuous conflict, bloodshed and loss of life which had brought untold sufferings upon the innocent villagers. The gap between the position of the FGN/NNC and the Government had widened and hardened and any semblance of political settlement that could lead to lasting peace was nowhere in sight. In such a bleak scenario, it was the NPC that came to the peoples’ rescue and made possible a general understanding between the parties concerned that any settlement made should be honorable to all concerned and acceptable to both sides.

In the first place, the Shillong Accord was never a settlement. It was a formal treaty of agreement. It was a framework agreement which paved the way for the formulation of issues to be made by the underground leaders for discussion with the Government of India for the final settlement. It was the best agreement the Nagas could have ever hoped for. The NPC had cleared the decks for the underground leaders to find for the people an honourable position for themselves within the Indian Union as a result of the talk under the Shillong Accord and enjoy maximum freedom to live their own way of life.

It is now going to be 44 years since the signing of the Shillong Accord on November 11 of 1975. 44 years of peace and fruitful development of Nagaland and its people would have not been lost had the Naga underground leaders honored the Shillong Accord to find a permanent settlement. So many of the social evils that is plaguing Nagaland today would have not been there. 44 years of peace and development would have surely enabled Nagaland to have become a forefront hill state of the North-East in terms of all-round progress.

Nagas today have definitely come a full circle. AZ Phizo was soundly criticized and made a scapegoat for not condemning the Shillong Accord. Phizo had no reason to condemn the Shillong Accord but instead endorsed it by his silence because it was a sincere agreement that only paved the way for talks with the GOI. It was the original framework agreement. Had AZ Phizo condemned the Shillong Accord, it would have closed the door of dialogue with the GOI for all time to come because negotiation is not a one way street but all about give and take. Phizo’s vision by not saying a word on the Shillong Accord left the door of dialogue ajar and from where future Nagas could begin anew. 

In the present time, Nagas have the FNR working for peace. It is now ten years since the Covenant of Reconciliation was signed. The commemoration of its 10th anniversary can also be a time to revisit the Shillong Accord by embracing the work done and achieved by the then Nagaland Peace Council. Doing so can enable Nagas to reevaluate the rights and wrongs that has been done and instill new courage, knowledge, wisdom and unity among all section of the Nagas. 

Benito Z. Swu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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