Post Mortem

Why repeat the 1960s

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/5/2019 1:03:18 PM IST

 Why did the 1966-67, six round of talks, between the FGN and the GOI end in a deadlock? It failed because, even as the GOI was sincere to reaching a solution, the FGN was never sincere. The then GOI had wanted to give the Nagas as much autonomy as possible, but since the FGN, although in talks, was never sincere with the talks, the FGN leaders became blind and failed to see the bigness of what was offered and placed right in front of them. The FGN entered into negotiation with the GOI and rejected the ultimate that the GOI could offer knowing very well that the demand for total independence was completely out of the ambit of negotiation.

Today, it pains to see and understand the foolishness of the FGN in throwing away the fruit that was paid for with blood and sacrifices of the Naga people. Instead, the Nagas were subjected to uncharted territory of more pain and hardship in the demand for independence which even a village lad knew was never going to come. We get to see and analyze that the FGN never intended the talks to reach a logical conclusion from the events that unfolded even before the talks began. Even as ceasefire between the FGN and GOI was being initiated and put into place, not less than a thousand Naga fighters left for East Pakistan for guerilla training and arms procurement.

The foreign policy of the FGN had been exclusively with Pakistan which AZ Phizo had cultivated with all his acumen, diplomatic skill, and physical presence in East Pakistan, and thereby, set up training bases in the Chittagong hill tracts. The FGN switched its foreign policy by warming up to China and informing Phizo about the FGN’s decision to seek Chinese assistance. Phizo’s effort to advocate the Naga cause to the democratic western world was soundly criticized by the FGN and he was actually blamed for the atrocities of the Indian military on the innocent Naga people. Actually it was the offensive strategy (against Phizo’s counter-offensive strategy) of the FGN and the retaliation of the Indian military on the innocent Naga people that resulted in much sufferings and death. 

By seeking the patronage of China, the FGN completely diverted from Phizo’s avowed principle of never looking to the communists. Seeking and taking Chinese help contradicted the Naga stand of openly proclaiming, “Nagaland for Christ”. It was all downhill after that. Since then, till today, Christ has been a means, and not the end. And the Naga people have been suffering with no end in sight till date.

What did India see in the Nagas? India was subjugated by the British and so were the Nagas. But the Nagas never allowed the British total subjugation even as the whole of the Indian sub-continent was subjugated by the British. Little is said, if not totally unsaid, about the fight of the Nagas, led by AZ Phizo, to get rid of the British from India, starting with the battle of Kohima. Nagas having just emerged as a people, thanks to Phizo, was all for India to be the guardian caretaker of the Naga people. It was only the egoistic leadership of the INC which was still in hangover with the subjugative tactics of the British, that they adopted the same with the Nagas and compelled Phizo to revolt. Indira Gandhi realized her father’s fault, but this time, her sincerity was met with the insincerity of the FGN. 

The FGN thought they had all the cards in place. They indeed had all their cards in place, except pragmatic flexibilities. The six rounds of talks starting from February of 1966 to January of 1967 laid bare the contradictions within the FGN itself. It became apparent that the Atto-Kilonser of the FGN had concentrated power and decision making to a kitchen cabinet for too long that when it finally mattered, he found himself in the woods. The GOI had proposed a settlement within the Indian Union with as much autonomy as possible, and with a status where the FGN Atto Kilonser would remain as the Prime Minister. However, the FGN’s inflexible insistence for complete independence put paid to rest any hope of a settlement. Isak Chishi Swu was dead against any settlement short of independence. He instead was looking forward to the return of Th. Muivah and Thenoselie Keyho who both had left for China with select Naga guerillas.

By missing out on the best ever proposal to arriving at a settlement with the GOI, the FGN laid to waste all the sacrifices that the Naga people had paid with blood, and for which the present generation Nagas are also paying the price. It was injustice on the people by the FGN leadership in forfeiting the proposal of the GOI to reach a settlement.

The recent visit to Nagaland of Deputy National Security Advisor and Interlocutor to Naga peace talks, R.N. Ravi, and what he had said has made everything very transparent to one and all. Needless to say, India’s stand on the Naga sovereignty issue is clear and which has been accepted by the Nagas. Infact, the GOI today has favoured the Nagas by agreeing to a settlement on the basis of sharing sovereign power. Ravi also made clear that the negotiating parties have also agreed that existing realities on territorial integration can only be pursued through democratic political process. 

The NSCN (IM), however, seems to be purposely trying to sabotage the talks. Much like the FGN of the past, the NSCN (IM) is engaging in double talk. On one hand, it is in mutual understanding with the GOI that they would not oppose the NNPG’s constructive cooperation in the peace process and their participation in the final agreement, and on the other, Th. Muivah, himself, has accused the GOI of using NNPGs as a parallel force to counter him. R.N. Ravi has made it absolutely clear that all parameters of settlement and the specifics of various competencies to be shared between the Naga people and the GOI have been resolved in the last four years, and have been mutually understood and agreed. Why then is the NSCN (IM) making a big bone of the flag issue when the GOI has also agreed for the Naga flag to be located in the Pan Naga cultural body, which indeed is a common platform of all the Nagas? When the GOI has even conceded to incorporate the final agreement, labeled as the “Naga Yehzabo” into the constitution of India, and which is the maximum that any democratic government in the world can give, why is the NSCN (IM) creating unnecessary hurdles in this regard?

Th. Muivah is of the same feather as that of the old FGN, and therefore, is singing in the like of the same old FGN. Prolonging the negotiation may be in the interest of the NSCN (IM), but it certainly is not for the Naga people.

Naga nationalism is about the distinct identity and the unique history of the Nagas which the GOI has recognized and is willing to go the extra mile to reach a settlement, and only wants the final agreement to unambiguously convey the unity of the Nagas with the Indian Union. The NSCN (IM) needs to stop entitling itself as a special entity, but come together in unity and solidarity with all the NNPGs, and speak in one voice if it does truly want a Naga settlement. Naga nationalism has been abused for too long and must no more be considered as that encaged duck which lays a golden egg every day.

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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