Post Mortem

Public Message on the Indo-Naga Political Settlement

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/16/2020 12:45:18 PM IST

 The Overseas Naga Association (ONA)writes with sincere goodwill toward all NPGs, CSOs,and Nagas across state and international borders. We extend the same goodwill to the people of India and Myanmar,especially our neighbors in the region. Members of ONA from around the world have eagerly followed the Indo-Naga political settlement talks with muchanticipation and hope for “an honorable and just” conclusion.

We believe the core terms for resolution of the problem must be anchored inmutual respect and acceptance of human rightson both sides. 

We therefore welcome Government of India’s formal recognition of the Naga people’s“unique history”in relation to India. Some on the Indian side have playeddown the Naga uniqueness as a generic claim that every state and group of people in India can make. But the historical fact remains that unlike the constituent regions of the Indian Union in formation in 1947 whichsigned an instrument of accession or decided to merge with India,Nagas did not. Nagas declared independence from colonial rule a day before India did. This verifiable fact and what has transpired since are the basis of Naga people’s unique relations with India. 

On the Naga side, a fact to recognize is that the world’s geopolitics has changed drastically since 1947, and Nagas need to reset our worldview accordingly. But as both India and Nagas know, resetting a worldview does not change the fact that Nagas are still a people, and as a people, wehave, at minimum, twouniversally recognized human rights under the UN Declaration of Human Rights: right to self-determination, free from outside interference; and right to anundivided homeland.For Nagas these rights are the basis for an honorable and just settlement.

On the Indian government side, accepting the unique Indo-Naga history and the UN sanctioned human rights would mean, in practice,acceptingthe Naga people’s political right and powerto self-determination in an undivided homeland.For India to withhold these twin rights from Nagas is to deny Nagas either the right to exist as a people or to treat Nagasas inferior human beings.It is important to remember that the armed conflictsin the Northeast, which GOI insists on calling “insurgency” for international consumption, started with the Indian Army’s operations in the Naga Hills in the 1950s, not insurgency by Nagas, and GOI’s imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)which has been in forcesince 1958. This Act has created a militarized“state of exception” for the region for over half a century, outside of the rule of law in India. The AFSPA is so egregious to human rights, to democracy, and to the rule of law that conscientious international scholars have called it India’s untenable “AFSPA regime.”It is instructive to note that any settlement arrived at between India and Nagas while AFSPA is in force, as it is now, could be argued as havingbeen made under some degree of duress. 

Despite these problems, or especially because the problems have dragged on for so long causing so much suffering and pain, the Overseas Naga Associationstrongly supports an expeditious settlement that is “honorable and just”, one that is based on the said two rights of the Nagas as a people. We realize that the issue of Naga integration is a major hurdle. But hurdles are what parties in tough negotiations like the on-going one are supposed to resolve. India has the constitutional provision for addressing the hurdle. The Government of India has the political responsibility and power to make it happen. It has the material means to do it, after all the Indo-Naga problem has been through. It will be a test of India’s maturity as a leading democratic nation in the world. We firmly hope the negotiations will produce an agreement and a plan to address this issue in ways that conduce to long-term peaceful co-existence and collaboration among the people of the regionand India, and beyond. 

We believe in a peaceful, honorable, and just resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem.  

Dr. Visier Sanyü, President, ONA 

Dr. Paul Pimomo, Secretary General, ONA

On behalf of the Overseas Naga Association.


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