Post Mortem

What in the name of religion?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/1/2018 12:33:21 PM IST

 Naga Political movement under NNC on 2nd Feb, 1946 adopted its slogan ‘Nagaland for Christ’ at Wokha. The role of the Church as a peace broker in Nagaland has been well documented in the past and Church leaders continue to take the message of peace from the Naga people to the leaders of the warring Naga insurgent factions, urging resolution of inter-factional feuds and contentious issues, amicably. The Church has also been a bridge between the Naga rebel groups and the Indian government towards facilitating any solution acceptable to all parties.

If NSCN-IM is engaged in peace negotiations with the government of India, the Church has a lion’s share in the deal. At a juncture where the NSCN claim to be fighting for a ‘Nagaland for Christ’, the Church could in no way have remained a passive observer, and has thus been inadvertently drawn into the politics of the State, and of insurgency. The Church appears to have taken upon itself the responsibility of championing the cause of correcting or preventing the wrongs in society. So, despite concerns of the church not to interfere in politics, it has found itself in a web of contradictory expectations. 

The rapid deterioration in human values, the instability and ineffectiveness of the region’s legislative politics, rampant corruption, and the gun culture are some issues that not only trouble civil society but to a large extent the Church too, wherein religious leaders in the region have realised that the Church cannot contribute sufficiently to the restoration of a fast-degenerating society through evangelisation. Hence, the Church’s new role as a watchdog of political values in a society. 

The growing involvement of the Church in the recent election was evidently poised at evolving ‘poll guidelines’ for the people, convincing the Naga national workers to stay away from the poll process and to influence the outcome of election polls per se. Though ultimately muscle and money power has reversed the poll results, the church attempt did not go in vain in its entirety. 

It is encouraging that the recently concluded ‘Prayer Summit’ held on 25th Oct 2018 at Agri Expo, 4th Mile, Dimapur was adequately represented by all sections across Nagaland and neighboring states as well. But while the attendance was August, apparently most were unaware of what the Framework Agreement entail; the gathering as such must have been garnered because of the Church’s influence and not by any particular leadership. It was also encouraging to witness the functionaries/Naga National Workers sharing insights about values and quoting verses from the bible. But one would wonder if the words spoken were reflective of their participation in a prayer summit, as opposed to their actual practices. I quote the very words of one of the speaker, “Our crave for wealth, luxury and comfort of life is emerging as the worst enemy of our nationalism and faith as well. We need to beware of this danger. Its repercussions are disastrous and potential of affecting long drawn illness in the society’’. I doubt if such a strong message has been conveyed with courage of conviction. With internal differences creeping in within the factions, Naga leaders have of late been engaged in war of words and open accusations about unscrupulous involvement in unprecedented economic gains in Nagaland as well as overseas. The quest for a political solution has become secondary in nature. Moreover, we cannot ignore the fact that the movement for political solution is being funded by rampant collection, illegal taxation, extortion, kidnapping and thorough assistance from organizations/countries averse to India. So where as the cause of the fight historically may be legitimate, are the methods being adopted justifiable? And at what costs to the common man?

History is replete with instances of people having fought, to the extent of laying down their own lives, for a cause they believed in. Leaders then, were selfless and genuinely involved and hence had unflinching support of the masses to the extent of sparking revolutions with one word. There was nobility in living and dying for one’s country and beliefs. However, sentiments and affections towards greater cause has lost its sheen because of vested interest and economic gains.

Religious leaders, therefore, have to ensure that they do not degrade to the extent of being political tools. Religious places should not be used for political propaganda and religious belief of people kept within the confines of divinity. Naga national workers also have to ensure that the fight is on lines that are acceptable to the general public so as to avoid resentment. 


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