Post Mortem

Thoughts without Malice

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/18/2020 1:08:56 PM IST

 ‘With malice towards none: with charity to all.’ – Abraham Lincoln 

Many Nagas have laid down their lives with a view to establish a just society and united Nagas on the altar of Nagaism. ‘We make war that we may live in peace,’ said Aristotle. The Nagas practised headhunting and fought against one another defending their territory and rights in order to live in relative peace and tranquillity till invaded by the non-Nagas arousing collective political and identity consciousness as one people against the common aggressors. Taking advantage of this development, the Naga leaders under the aegis of the British Imperialist, organised the Naga Labour Corps and participated in the 1st World War as their allies. Witnessing the savagery of the civilised world in war, discovered their different race, customs, and, most of all, the necessity of a Naga unity for survival. Returned home wiser, organised the Naga Club and demanded for a separate country from India where they could be free again to live their life as before the conquest and rule of the British Empire. This petition was not granted by the British Empire leading to future armed struggle with independent India for self-determination which continues till today. 

The Govt of India (GOI) attempted to win the confidence of the Nagas by creating the state of Nagaland with special provisions in the constitution but failed to satisfy them as many of them were left out in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. The present peace talk is one of those steps taken by both the GOI and Naga leaders to resolve the outstanding political questions of the Nagas inherited from the British Empire. 

However, it is qualitatively different from the earlier ones in many ways led by a batch of more qualified leaders than the previous negotiators; disunited and divided, each advocating its own agenda before the GOI. Reportedly, they have formally agreed to settle the Naga question within the constitution of India abandoning the idea of absolute sovereignty and territorial integration for Nagas. This is a paradigm shift from the past stance. The main features of the peace talk are as follows: 

First, it appears that the cease fire was concluded with the most powerful Naga Socialist Council of Nagalim (IM)/NSCN (IM) led by Chairman (L) Isaac Chishi and General Secretary Th. Muivah in great haste without proper detail ground rules to enforce it leading to avoidable altercation and confrontation between the security personnel and the underground cadres. Secondly, there are many Naga National Political Groups (NPGs) but the cease fire was concluded with one group only, namely, the NSCN (IM) and not with the other warring groups. Thirdly, later on, some NPGs were also brought to the negotiating table by the GOI to make it more inclusive overruling the bitter objections from the NSCN (IM). Fourthly, the GOI is represented by the Interlocutor and the Nagas by their leaders from their respective factions excluding the state government or any other social organisations. Fifthly, inclusion of the NPGs at latter stage created bad blood between them and the NSCN (IM) who initiated the negotiation. This problem remains unresolved till date. Sixthly, the GOI has changed the Interlocutors frequently disrupting the continuity of the process without rhymes or reasons. Seventhly, the present Interlocutor has made tremendous progress during his tenure but of late severely criticised by the NSCN (IM). Eighthly, it is going rather slow and the public is losing hope in the fruitful outcome of the protracted negotiation raising doubts about their sincerity in resolving the political question of the Nagas. Ninthly, the Framework Agreement and the competencies clause signed between the GOI and the NSCN (IM) remain a secret document and not officially accessible to general public raising suspicion and authenticity about its contents. Lastly, the public doesn’t know on what basis the GOI is dealing with the NPGs. Do they have a different agenda? Will they accept the Framework Agreement and the competencies clause without any discussion or correction? On what basis are the NPGs ‘prepared to sign the Indo-Naga agreement any day and any time’? What is that ‘Indo-Naga agreement’? Is it different from the Framework Agreement signed by the GOI and NSCN (IM)? The public wants to know about this mysterious document. 

In the midst of all this talk, the NSCN (IM) is demanding for replacement of the incumbent Interlocutor holding him responsible for creating misunderstanding and schism between them and the GOI. However, at this juncture, such move may derail the process or even delay the political settlement farther while deracinating and demotivating the incumbent sowing seeds of suspicion and animosity between them. Any Interlocutor appointed by the GOI will plead for their case against the Nagas. They are political adversaries. They will not act treacherously. It is not the responsibility of the Interlocutor to speak or work for the Nagas and vice versa. The Naga leaders must speak for themselves and deal with anybody reasonably whoever becomes the Interlocutor, antagonistic or accommodative, on equal terms. They must conduct themselves confidently, rationally and honourably. The fate of the negotiation will depend on both the Naga party and Interlocutor. The better negotiator will have his way; the Interlocutor for India and the Naga party for Nagas. They must play their cards well; very intelligently, tactfully and diplomatically within the constitution of India. 

The recent controversy over the flag, constitution and competencies clause must be critically examined against the aforesaid background. Are they against the constitution of India? If so, they must be flexible enough to set aside those irritants and abide by their earlier commitment building trust and confidence ending this tedious and acrimonious negotiation successfully without introducing fresh ideas at this stage further complicating the issues either stalling or procrastinating inordinately. If any other vital issue cannot be satisfactorily settled this time, it may be postponed for another day while achieving what is possible now. It should not end in fiasco. They must try to remove all obstacles blocking progress and advancement towards material prosperity and spiritual awareness. Honourable and acceptable political solution must be for both parties under the principle of ‘give and take’, based on peaceful and tactful negotiation and not otherwise. It cannot be done at the expense of others. ’The body politic, as well as the human body, begins to die as soon as it is born, and carries itself the causes of its own destruction’, writes Rousseau. Timing is important and our leaders must accomplish whatever they can when there is still opportunity. Every generation of Nagas is expected to contribute its best for the well-being of our people and earn gratitude but unfortunately, it is said that ‘gratitude is a duty to which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect’ in this fallen world. 

The public is expecting improvements in the living conditions of the Nagas everywhere out of this peace talk. It is impossible to satisfy everybody but when they give their best every Naga will appreciate it. Neither is it possible nor reasonable nor is it necessary that one generation of ambitious politicians should accomplish and satisfy all the aspirations of the present and future generations of Nagas and write off their history for good. They must keep the window open for successive generations to continue the march towards progress -- materially and spiritually. Every little forward step is an achievement in human civilisation. We will cherish their memories and feel indebted to their contribution for promoting the idea of Nagaism for posterity.

Besesayo Kezo, 

IPS (Retd) DGP 

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