This is with reference to the views vis-à-vis the decades long Naga imbroglio as expressed by NSF (Naga Students Federation) through its Media Cell and which appeared in the local dailies on Thrusday, Sept 2, 2021.
Following India’s Independence on 15th August, 1947, the contiguous Naga-inhabited areas were part of the North-East region then known as Assam State. The Nagas had already decided that they had never been part and parcel of India and had declared their Independence on 14th August, 1947 just ahead of India’s and intimated to the United Nations Origination (UNO) accordingly. They also refused to participate in the Indian General Elections for two consecutive terms. Instead, in a Plebiscite on May 1951, at least 99.9% of Nagas put their thumbs impressions on it.
Those days, the Naga people were going through untold miseries. The Indian security forces began their campaign of torturing people in such manner which cannot be narrated by mouth. To cite a few instances here, some people were literally buried alive, villages along with granaries were burnt down, women were raped in front of family members, even those pregnant were raped inside Church buildings, etc.
With the formation of Naga National Council (NNC) and later the FGN (Federal Government of Nagaland) and subsequently Naga Army, the Naga people began to resist the atrocities of the Indian security forces. In this context, Nagas proved themselves adept in guerrilla warfare.
Still, the atrocities escalated with imposition of Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, 1958. To ameliorate the sufferings of the villagers, some concerned Nagas formed the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) and initiated a series of dialogues with Government of India.
Eventually, the Indian Parliament enacted Article 371 (A) of the Constitution whereby the State of Nagaland would be created after the Government of India and NPC had signed the 16-Point Agreement. With formation of Nagaland State, Naga people were given the opportunity to develop themselves according to their capabilities.
Although a blessing, unfortunately, some contiguous Naga-inhabited areas remained under what was to become the States of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh – all through subsequently added clauses of Article 371. Also, Nagas, were left out under Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) which will need another deal.
Meanwhile, with formal induction of Nagaland as the 16th State of Indian Union, our leaders were given the opportunity to develop our State. It is must be noted that Nagaland is the only State formed on political terms after armed conflict. Why we have not developed as we should have in for us, the present generation, to deeply ponder and perhaps come up with ways and means to march forward, We have had so much opportunities to develop much more and yet, sadly, we are still lagging behind other States. Why?
The present younger generation can still overcome our shortcomings. But to denigrate the 16-Point Agreement is not the best way to insisting on Naga identity. Unless one knows the history of Nagas in detail he or she should not comment anything negative about the Naga People’s Convention (NPC).
As for the details of the numerous atrocities perpetrated by the Indian Army, along with CRPF, Assam Rifles and the then Assam police and political moves – all these are with me. My point is we cannot forget the past but we must look to the future which we can still navigate successfully. Instead, of looking continuously at the rear mirror while driving, it is safer to look through the windshield ahead.
It is also noted that a good number of Former NSF leaders/office bearers have gone on and distinguished themselves in various fields not the least being as elected Members to this Nagaland Legislative Assembly. At present, the NSF may also concentrate more on matters concerning students all over the State on their grievances being inadequate school infrastructures, delay in payment of scholarships, absentee teachers, less than requisite number of teachers in spite of excess (back door) appointments etc.
Last but not the least, as a positive outcome of the 16-Point Agreement, for whatever it is worth, we present-day Nagas, are living reasonably better off.
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