The ongoing talks of Naga representatives with the Govt of India are in final stage. The talks were nearing a conclusion due to deadline of 31 Oct 19 set by the Prime Minister. Though the deadline threat has been over-ridden and talks prolonged, the conclusion is ever closer than it was before. The status quo that had become the landmark is likely to be broken to everlasting peace. The new Nagaland is in emergence where the sun of peace and tranquillity is waiting to shine. The questions do arise on why did the insurgent group came to negotiating table within the frame work of Indian Constitution, what forced them to look for peaceful options while eschewing violent path they has taken up earlier. A number of stake holders have made these talks possible but nothing more than the state machinery of might with a humane touch. The might kept the insurgents under constant pressure and the humane touch weaned the locals away from violence.
The Indian Army, Assam Rifles and the police have been the might arm of state. When the state writ was no longer running, Army and Assam Rifles were brought in to assist in creating an environment to enable state machinery function and seen by the populace. Over these years, the Army was not only able to control violence but was able to provide succour to the locals. Army enabled the populace to live and earn a living without facing threats of insurgents who not only forced them but also extracted undue money leading to hardships. So many locals were forced to join militancy by these insurgent groups. The state functionaries now have even forgotten how it was 30-40 years before when they were scared of even going beyond the confines of big cities lest they be killed.
The Army was called in and deployed with the so called Draconian Law of Armed Forces Special Power Act-1958. The law lays down provisions for Army to act against insurgents to the extent of killing him if so required. However, the law was toned down with other measures which were put in place from time to time. The results of the large proportions of capture of insurgents with weapons to the meagre number of insurgents killed in Army action stand testimony to that. With various restrictions imposed on the Army, the ground rules had become so vague that in a number of instances genuine operations were avoided in order not to whenever even a small doubt was raised. The Army has improved with time and more and more lethal weapons have found place in the Army’s armoury. However never has the situation come where weapons more than the ones used 25 years before have been used to cause collateral damage.
The Nagas have now seen over a period of time that the state is not Draconian as was painted by their leaders to start the movement. The people are allowed to follow their choice of life, religion and even choose whom they wish to follow. Peace with by dignity and prosperity has always been the demand and was being fulfilled the state. They realised the futility of fighting the state over things they were being granted. As education spread they became more aware of the world and how things were panning out in the neighbourhood. They realised that if they go with demands of insurgent leaders they would be guided by unprofessional and untrained people leading to chaos and poverty in life. Thus over a period of time the leaders lost connect with people’s aspirations and their loyal support.
The insurgent leaders were now staring at a future with no support from people for whom they thought they were fighting for. They realised that if they do not come to the talking table, they will lose more. The society had moved on from their erstwhile demands and wanted to be part of the larger society with freedom of movement.
Post accord, the state of Nagaland and the society is more likely to remain the same than change. The Army may move out in the coming months, but the vacuum which it creates will have no effect on the state. The violence may end with no insurgent groups trying to run their writ against the government. But this was achieved by the Army and Assam Rifles almost a decade ago. The Army will be fondly remembered by the populace for same. The Army will also be remembered for another task well done. It not only brought the violence levels to a low for the state to function but also created a niche for itself leading to the fence sitters being weaned from the insurgent cause and path of violence. As the new state emerges from the chaos with all the stake holders playing a part, Army will stand out separately for its might with a humane face.
Vincent Patton, Kohima
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