On this historic national Independence Day, I greet you all in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As mandated, a negotiating team led by me had series of talks with the representatives of the Government of India from the position of our unique history. It took a long time for us to make the Indian leaders understand and admit what the unique history of the Nagas is. The Indian negotiators acknowledged that the Nagas have the history of sovereign independence. They are also well informed of the historical fact that the Nagas have neither been a party to the Union of India nor to that of Burma.
Our forefathers fought back all invaders with total patriotic commitment in defense of our sovereign country – our people, land, history, identity, culture, politics and religion. They fought back the British imperialist forces with available arms for decades and finally declared our independence on August 14, 1947 on the eve of lapse of the British power.
In 1950, the Constituent Assemble of India invited the Nagas to join the Union of India, but it was rejected by the Naga people. They had also rejected the offer of joining the Union of Burma. This historical fact was reaffirmed by subsequent conduct of plebiscite in 1951, where 99.9 % of the Naga people voted in favor of sovereign independent Nagalim, which is still fresh in the memory of many older people today.
Thereafter, the Government of India under the leadership of the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru sent thousands of Indian armed forces equipped with the diabolic law called the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) to subjugate the Nagas with brute force where they committed the horrible crimes of human rights violations – mass tortures, mass rapes, summary executions, massacres, mass detention in concentration camps, destruction of houses, Churches, schools, villages and forests. But the Nagas survived from the onslaught of the Indian aggressors.
Applying ‘the carrot and stick policy’, the Government of India tried to hook the Naga issue through the deception of an autonomous Nagaland state within the Indian constitution carving out of Naga ancestral domains. But it was rejected by the Naga people knowing that it was nothing but a political bait.
Realizing the futility of subduing the Nagas with military might, the post Jawaharlal Nehru leadership sent feeler to the Naga leaders for political dialogue. Accordingly, the first cease-
fire agreement was signed on 6th September, 1964. Talks were held at the Prime Ministerial level in Delhi, but it ended in a failure in 1967 on account of rigid stands taken by both sides. There was no meeting point, and no party worked out for it. Meanwhile, Mr. Suisa Rungsung, a Member of Tatar Hoho, worked out a personal proposal for a kind of solution which was transitional to final goal, but it was turned down to be regretted later. Consequently, confrontations between the two forces resumed.
The Government of India, under its scorched-earth policy tried to suppress the Naga national resistance movement and ultimately imposed the infamous Shillong Accord in 1975. However, reaffirming the national decision, the Naga national assembly condemned the Shillong Accord and thus saved the national issue.
The Indian colonialism did not stop there. The Government of India through its intelligent agencies engineered Khaplang’s abortive political coup in 1988 where hundreds of Naga patriots were butchered. But by His grace, the Nagas survived again from the barbarous offensive campaigns of the collusion forces of India, Burma, Khaplang and other collaborators launched against them for a period of two decades.
After thirty years of armed confrontations, the Indian military generals and political leaders stated, “Military solution is not possible, it is not law and order problem of India, the Naga problem is political which calls for a political solution”. The Congress-led government under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Mr. PV Narasimha Rao officially invited us for a political talk in Paris, France. He said, “We have invited you for political talks because the people are with you, the issue is with you and you have proved yourselves”.
In the heart-to-heart discussion, it was mutually agreed that talks will be held on three terms – ‘talk without condition, at the Prime Minister level and in third countries’. In order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks a ceasefire agreement became imperative. Therefore, the second ceasefire agreement was agreed upon and signed on 25th July, 1997 and it was announced in the Indian Parliament by Mr. IK Gujral, the Prime Minister of India that Ceasefire between the Government of India and NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagalim) would come into effect from 1st August, 1997 whereas Mr. Isak Chishi Swu, the Chairman of NSCN announced it in the General Assembly of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) at The Haque, Netherlands. The Prime Minister of India also said, “NSCN is not a terrorist Organization”. The Milan agreement of November 18, 2002 says, “NSCN is not a banned Organization”.
On the issue of ‘Ceasefire without territorial limit’ that was protested by a mob in Imphal, Manipur state, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, reaffirming the Bangkok agreement dated 14th June, 2001, clarified it in unequivocal term at the Osaka meeting stating, “Wherever there is fighting, there is ceasefire. Ceasefire is everywhere”. Mr. Swaraj Kaushal, the former emissary of GoI stated, “Ceasefire is not only in Nagaland, it is also in Delhi, even in Paris”.
After a long and intensive discussions the unique history of the Nagas was finally recognized by the BJP-led NDA government on July 11, 2002 during the tenure of the former Prime Minister of India late Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Late Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and I came to India on official invitations consecutively for three times in 2002, 2005 and 2010 by Government of India for expediting the negotiations with more seriousness in frequent consultation with the Prime Minister of India. In the talks, we have clearly spelled out the political stand of the Nagas. Nagas are not asking for sovereign Independent Nagalim from India. Nagas have been a free and sovereign independent people from time immemorial. Ours is a case of aggression on Nagalim by India and Myanmar. It is the Naga national resistance movement against aggressors where all Nagas of all ages, genders and status except a few traitors are involved. The Naga people have neither accepted the Union of India nor her constitution at any point of time. History will ever speak of that fact. We will not accept them today and even in days to come. We have also told them that Nagas and Indians are two poles apart in terms of history, race, identity, culture, language, geography, political concept and faith. Except for the common security and common commercial interests we have nothing in common. Nevertheless, we said we must work out a common ground for a meeting point so that we may co-exist together as two entities. No doubt, all the Indian interlocutors understood this reality and acknowledged the position of the Nagas.
In 2010, during the tenure of Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led UPA government, the Government of India through its interlocutor, Mr. RS Pandey proposed a ‘Non-paper’. The non-paper says, “Coexistence of the two entities and shared-sovereignty of the two entities”.
After series of intensive discussions basing on the principle of the proposed ‘co-existence and shared-sovereignty’, the Framework Agreement was arrived at and officially signed on the 3rd August, 2015. The Government of India through the Framework Agreement recognizes the sovereignty of the Nagas. The agreement also says, “Inclusive peaceful co-existence of the two entities sharing sovereign power”. By ‘inclusive’ it means all Naga in different administrative units and political camps are to be included in the agreement. Co-existence of the two entities is self-explanatory. It means the two peoples and nations will co-exist. Political and legal experts admit the terms ‘co-existence’ and ‘shared-sovereignty’ apply to two entities, not one entity. The Nagas will co-exist with India sharing sovereign powers as agreed in the Framework Agreement and defined in the competencies. But they will not merge with India.
We are not asking for Naga national flag and constitution from the Government of India. Recognize them or not, we have our own flag and constitution. Flag and constitution are ingredients of our recognized sovereign entity and the symbols of Naga nationhood. The Nagas must keep their flag and constitution.
On 31st October, 2019 talk, Mr. RN Ravi said, “We respect and honor your flag and constitution. We do not say Government of India has rejected them, but let us finalize them at the earliest time”. We reiterated our stand stating we see no honorable solution without flag and constitution.
We must know where our salvation line is. Our political salvation lies in clinging to our national principle and saying no to the dictation of the enemies. Clinging to our principle, our people said no to the Union of India. They also said no to the 16-point agreement and the Shillong Accord that have made the issue alive thus far. And they will say no to any agreement that betrays the national principle, and that imposition of Indian will upon the Nagas will never be acceptable to the Naga people.
Nonetheless, taking the sovereign right of the Nagas and the security and commercial interests of India into account, we have condensed our discussions to the mutually agreed Framework Agreement and worked out competencies to be finalized. Indeed, the Nagas are for a political solution.
Finally, I salute all the martyrs and revolutionary patriots in the field. I take this opportunity to give thanks to all the Naga people, civil societies, namely, the Naga Hoho (NH), the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO), Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), the Churches in Nagalim, the United Naga Council (UNC), Women’s organizations in Manipur state and others for their unflinching support for the cause and unceasing prayers during this crucial time.
I give my congratulations to the UNPO for the recent successful conclusion of the first virtual General Assembly held from July 31 – August 2, 2020. Nagalim too was a part of this historic endeavor and it will continue to do so in the future. The resolutions adopted at the Assembly is highly appreciated and it should be honored by the world communities too. I wish to reiterate that the Naga people stands in solidarity with the struggling unrepresented nations and peoples around the world.
I wish you all a happy Independence Day!