Our first generation National Workers rightly espoused the value of freedom as an elementary birthright worthy to be defended unto death and had therefore physically registered this fact against the aggression of a more powerful adversary called India. The excruciating and merciless inhuman atrocities committed by the Indian Army against the helpless populace will remain an indelible scare in the psyche of the generation who had had the misfortune of a firsthand experience. Be that as it may…it is about time that the Nagas look at our present dispensation dispassionately and pragmatically and move on.
We, the Nagas of Nagaland, are perhaps a little wiser today than we were yesterday concerning the ongoing Indo-Naga Political issue. It however still seems apparent that we are desperately unable to focus on the same page in order to exercise a cohesive result oriented thinking process. We have yet to realise that we have been walking in the dark recess of political intrigues woven around us by the forces that be… and blindly being dictated by emotional and tribal sentiments rather than taking a pragmatic and rational stand based on the ground realities lying before us…which makes us less able to see through the fog.
The NSCN (IM) has habitually been sharing half truths peppered with their own one-sided concocted version of how aggressively they have been negotiating with the GoI on our behalf but they have rarely shared the stand point of the GoI to enable the people to see both sides of the coin more vividly to help a balanced view to grow. The people have repeatedly been fed with an over-exaggerated ‘make believe’ notion that Nagas would have ‘shared sovereignty with India as an independent Nation with our own ‘yehzabo’ and our very own national flag. The truth they failed to put on the table was that GoI was prepared to ‘share sovereignty’ in the similar way as all the other Federated States of India where the Centre and the States share specific subjects of autonomy in the form of Central List, the State List and the Concurrent List clearly delineated in the Constitution. The GoI seem to have made it clear that the issue of a separate ‘Yehzabo’ and the ‘Flag’ was irrelevant under the given circumstances of “Shared Sovereignty” as defined by them. NSCN (IM) seems to have not only understood their concept but had initially conceded to it in principle more or less. A person no less than Mr. Th Muivah himself had admitted in public platform that the issue of “Sovereignty” and “Integration” were subjects left to be sorted out through democratic process in due future. Having gone this far, today, Mr. Muivah is now putting his foot down in a U-turn, wanting an independent “Sovereign Yehzabo”; “Flag”; and “Integration” as a pre-condition to the final settlement… and there is absolutely no one within the present NSCN (IM) cadre who would dare point out to their rapidly aging ‘Supremo’ that it was rather late in the day to be making this kind of a U-Turn. Now, consider this perspective: A considerable majority of the Nagas across the board still believe that integration of all the contiguous Naga inhabited areas must be brought under one administrative umbrella. The one defining reality is that whether Nagas are presently living within the State boundaries of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur or Myanmar, the Nagas are still the sole legal owners of their land. Therefore it is within their legitimate rights to join the Naga mainstream along with their legally owned landed properties, if they so desire. Fearing that the other North Eastern States will start an uprising as the reason to deprive the legitimate right of the Nagas is a flagrant injustice of the highest order. Therefore, even if GoI is unable to concede to complete sovereignty to the Nagas, the least it can do and should do is…allow all the Nagas to live together and relieve them from ignominy of being treated almost as secondary citizens within the present boundaries they presently have had no choice but to live in. Having said that, if geographical integration cannot be salvaged at the final settlement, I have repeatedly said that Mr. Th. Muivah has no place within the State of Nagaland…(he being from Manipur). The prospect of having spent his whole youthful life in pursuit of a dream and end up being the boss of only a Regional Territorial Autonomous Council in Manipur will certainly not be an appealing conclusion for a man who still espouses to rule the Nagas as a whole. But whether he likes it or not he doesn’t have much choice but to face reality one way or other….even if it is personally a very difficult choice to make. After all this has nothing to do with his personal status in the aftermath but a subject that concerns the overall wellbeing of the Naga race. Even though this is the case…it appears apparent that he would rather choose to prolong the status quo and stretch the negotiation to an endless journey rather than conclude within a given timeframe…if only to enjoy the ironclad autocratic authority that he wields today…and ride into the sunset of his afterlife without dismounting from his high horse. What he fails to realise is that the Nagas of Nagaland, who have suffered persistent and excruciating burden of extortion (dubbed as ‘tax”) for the past half a century or more, have reached the end of their ultimate tolerance and are no longer prepared to keep feeding the gluttonous millionaire wolves in the guise of “sovereignty”.
This brings us to the crucial issue at hand: The original copy of the Framework Agreement (FA for brevity) has at last been made available to the people by NSCN (IM) and therefore we ought to be able to conclusively deduce that this agreement is simply a broad principle guideline, a road map of sort, for reaching the final settlement. This Agreement is therefore, by no stretch of imagination, the final settlement that the people had earlier been made to believe. The Nagas of Nagaland must clearly understand that devil lies in the details called “Competency Clauses” (henceforth referred to as CC) that the NSCN (IM) has proffered to the GoI on our behalf…which has still been kept very close to their chest without disclosing it to the people they claim to represent. For once the Nagas of Nagaland must insist that the NSCN (IM) put the unabridged details of CC as it is, in the public domain before, I repeat BEFORE and not AFTER, the final nail is hammered into our destiny…if they really want to qualify as our representative. Our immediate future and our children’s destiny cannot unilaterally be bartered away by them alone without taking the popular will of the people into confidence. The same yardstick applies to 7NNPGs and the GoI as well. The people…the stakeholders have a right to know what is in store for them before the matter is sealed for all times.
Now try and remember few vexed issues that have already been made available to a limited audience: That:
(1) NSCN (IM) claims in their CC that “the State of Nagaland will cease to exist”…because Nagaland will become a Nation. This is a sheer myth in the absence of integration or for that matter even with integration. In reality the Nagas of Manipur and Arunachal are set to have their respective Regional Autonomous Councils that is in no way connected to Nagaland. In as far as the GoI is concerned any settlement is only being envisaged within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Therefore this “Nation” notion of NSCN (IM) is but a wishful thinking unworthy of public consumption.
(2) Another damning subject pertains to the Pan Naga Hoho (PNH). The original proposal of NSCN (IM) was to create PNH as a cultural organization having a statutory status with an advisory role. According to Shri. R.N. Ravi, the Interlocutor, since PNH, as an exclusive Cultural Body, would be created through an Act of Parliament it would have a statutory status but in terms of its advisory role it would only be limited to rendering advice like any other NGOs on any given issue…on which the elected Government would have the liberty to act upon or throw it out the window. This original goal post has since been shifted by the NSCN (M) whereby they now insist that PNH must have a mandatory authority overriding the elected Government in all matters…be it Legislative, Executive or Judiciary. This change of stance from the original starting point is totally uncalled for…especially for the Nagas of Nagaland. Without geographical integration such an arrangement of having non-indigenous Nagas from beyond our boundary dictating an elected Government of the State of Nagaland to do its bidding is not only nonsensical but repulsively unpalatable. And yet such a demand is officially being peddled by NSCN (IM) in their list of “CC”.
(3) Further, it has been confirmed by well placed authority within the NSCN (M) hierarchy in course of a discussion with one of them, that PNH would also exercise authority in matters of selecting certain percentage of members to the Upper House in a Bicameral setup which the State of Nagaland will have. This issue has never been publically exposed. The cloak and dagger attitude of NSCN (IM) leads us to naturally suspect that there could be other such unpalatable matters capsuled within “CC”…totally unknown to the public of Nagaland.
(4) The discomfort for the Nagas of Nagaland continues in that NSCN (M) is aspiring to setup PNH within Nagaland, targeting Intanki Reserve Forest as their HQs, though we have been made to understand that Intanki has not been specifically mentioned in their “CC”. Nevertheless it is a foregone conclusion from the manner NSCN (M) has been jealously guarding this territory from encroachment. Unconfirmed information is also doing the round that the present State Government has already ordered the Forest Department to vacate many of their Departmental quarters within Intanki Reserve Forest which are now being occupied by the NSCN (IM) cadres. The onus of confirmation or denial of such a development rests with the Government. In as far as the Nagas of Nagaland is concerned; Intanki is not a “No man’s land”. We have not lifted the merciless burden of “sovereignty” for the past 72 years so as to even loose what we already have in our possession. It is a common sentiment of the Nagas of Nagaland that if PNH has to be created…so be it…but it should have its HQs outside the State of Nagaland and certainly not in Intanki Reserve Forest!
God only knows how many more such clauses exists within this competency clauses of the NSCN (M) that the Nagas of Nagaland would find it difficult to digest. Therefore, taking stock of the overall questionable possibilities it is mandatorily desirable that the Nagas of Nagaland be shown the unabridged list of Competency Clauses that the NSCN (IM) has been working on, before settlement is finalised. The same principle applies to the other 7 NNPGs. The 14 Tribal Hohos of Nagaland must uprightly stand together on this issue and demand that the Competency Clauses of NSCN (IM) and also the 7 NNPGs be made available so that each Tribal Hohos can initiate a public review over it with their respective communities. At the end of the day, each Tribal Hoho must also thoroughly understand their sacred moral responsibility to the people they represent at this critical juncture of our history and know without a doubt that what they do or do not do today will echo through the generation to come. God help us all not to fall short of our callings at this final hour when destiny beckons.
KHEKIYE K. SEMA IAS (Retd.)
3rd Mile Thilixu Village;
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