Post Mortem

Naga Solution: The way forward?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/19/2021 1:51:19 PM IST

 Our forefathers’ only desire was to be free of foreign dominion once the British left; but it was not to be. Sovereignty eludes the Nagas and thus, will eternally remain an emotional issue. Sovereignty in the true sense refers to a politically independent state; it is the right to self-government without interference from outside. However, the land of the Nagas is divided, with one part in Myanmar and the other in India. In India too, Nagaland has been further subdivided; one piece went into the formation of Nagaland state while the rest have been annexed to the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.

After decades of war and bloodshed for the Naga cause, peace was brokered. But peace is still lacking because we are today bitterly divided amongst ourselves on lines of international boundary, state borders, faction, tribe, etc. Internecine feuds were regular affairs till the recent past due to differences in ideology, mistrust, narrow-mindedness, and vested interests. Thanks to the efforts of the FNR (Forum for Naga Reconciliation) and other well-meaning organizations, these clashes have now stopped, hopefully for all time to come. These irreconcilable differences are the waterloo of the Nagas. The Holy Bible (Psalms 133:1) states “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity”. We proclaim to be Christians, but how much of Christians really are we? The desire of most Nagas today is to live in dignity, and in peace amongst ourselves and with our neighbors. We long for a solution and lasting peace, to keep us going as a people.

The various Naga political groups have bargained for, and got something, but what, and how much? After some agreements in the past, such as the Shillong Accord, etc., with major hiccups and betrayals along the way, the Government of India (GoI) finally entered into a political dialogue with the NSCN (IM) in 1997. The other Naga political groups at that point of time passively watched, of course having signed peace treaties with the GoI. The dialogue culminated in the signing of the Framework Agreement (FA) between the two entities on 3rd August 2015. The FA consisted of broad guidelines, the details of which are in the Competency Clauses (CC); these however, have not been clearly spelt out as yet. Most of our knowledge of these clauses is just conjecture. However, Territorial Integration does not appear to be part of the agreement as yet. The Nagaland Legislative Assembly had, on a few occasions, voted for Territorial Integration of Naga areas, but we are still nowhere near today.

At the intervention of the civil societies, the GoI invited the other groups as well, numerous factions by now. Under public pressure, these groups united to form the Working Committee (WC) of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG). On 17th November 2017 the WC (NNPG) signed the Agreed Position with the GoI. This again consisted of broad guidelines, with all details in the CC, which are now in the public domain. The NSCN (IM) too should declare their CC, because the Nagas want to know what is being negotiated for them. This will also remove all suspicion lurking in many minds. Thankfully, another group joined the peace process recently.

The WC (NNPG) has now come to an agreement with the GoI, in the form of certain benefits for Nagaland and perhaps Autonomous Councils for the Nagas in Manipur State. However, nothing is clear of the fate of the Nagas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

These days it is fashionable to insist that the Naga political groups unite. Do we seriously think it is possible to unite them? It is nearly impossible because of the fact that we ourselves are so miserably disunited. Then how dare we demand that the Naga political groups unite? We should first set an example by uniting. At the 65thAnniversary of the ‘Naga Flag Hoisting’ observed at Parashen on 22nd March 2021, Mr. Sepili L. Sangtam, the ENSF President, rightly appealed for inclusiveness of all Nagas as a single entity. The Southern Nagas in Manipur state are covered under a single umbrella, the UNC (United Naga Council), whereas we are fragmented into so many groups in this small state of Nagaland. We have the ENPO, CNTC, NTC, etc. We, of Nagaland, have disowned the Naga Hoho. The Nagas today desperately need an apex body to further the Naga cause. Sometimes I wonder why we cannot have a simple unifying body such as Nagaland Tribes’ Council or with any other suitable title, to include all the tribes of Nagaland. With the blessings of all, the Naga Hoho can be strengthened to represent the Nagas. We also have to get a decent deal for the Nagas of Arunachal and Assam. The day the public unites, it will not be very difficult to get the NSCN (IM), the WC (NNPG), etc. to sit across the table and sort out things amicably; with a unified Naga voice, territorial integration can be a reality.

The WC (NNPG) has struck a deal with the GoI and has accepted a package; it is therefore ready to sign the agreement any day. The NSCN (IM), on the other hand, insists on the Flag and Yehzabo before signing the agreement. The Naga public and civil societies are bitterly divided on the issue, with some groups insisting on signing the agreement immediately and closing the chapter. But there will be consequences to pay for any mistake.

To be fair, and give credit where it is due, the NSCN (IM) started this more-than-2-decade-long negotiation with the GoI, while the other groups were never in the picture. Therefore, to suddenly dump the NSCN (IM) and sign up for a solution would be a travesty of justice. After all, it is the NSCN (IM) that paved the way for the solution that is imminent. Moreover, from past experience we know that leaving out any group will lead to a bloodbath. Nagas, at this juncture, cannot afford another internal revolution. If an agreement is to be signed, it has to include all parties. The agreement signed, should be for a single solution, no matter how temporarily small.

As has been made known to us, the Naga talks, pending a final solution, will continue in the future, after the GoI and the Naga negotiators sign the agreement. However, the negotiators should ensure that the Nagas spread over the different states are included for some benefits such as Autonomous Councils, etc. Perhaps Article 371A may be extended for them! The Naga Flag is a very important component; it is the identity of the Nagas. The GoI should not prevent the use of the Naga Flag. Perhaps keeping the Yehzabo for negotiation at a later date will allow for an early settlement. Once the agreement is signed the Naga negotiators should start the ball rolling for Territorial Integration first.

The Naga public should be grateful for whatever temporary solution is negotiated by the Naga political groups, no matter how small the package; negotiations will continue after the agreement is signed. We should bear in mind that without these negotiators we would not be where we are today. But, we have to ensure an early negotiated solution, as prolonging it will only prolong our misery.

(The opinions expressed are personal)

Prof. G.T. Thong, 

Lower Agri Colony, 



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