The visuals of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi, on the evening of 3rd August 2015, televised nationwide, welcomed IM leadership to the national mainstream. The reciprocal warmth exchanged then, did not indicate any unfinished business, let alone Naga flag or constitution because it was no rocket science to the Naga people that the group was joining Indian national mainstream, having successfully concluded the talks. Ridiculous explanations and interpretation of the FA by IM group simply rolls off like water from the duck’s back. The FA confirms the truth.
Fast forward to 31st Oct. 2019, late at night, the Government of India (GoI) announced that the talks with negotiating Naga groups had formally concluded, including NSCN (IM) who too had come on board. The WC, NNPG and the then GoI interlocutor Mr. R.N Ravi conducted political negotiations from September 2017 to Oct. 2019 with AGREED POSITION as the basis and parameter. After two years of dedicated political parlays, the future relationship between GoI and Nagas, in the form of Status Paper, was made available to the Naga people. There was heightened anticipation that an inclusive acceptable political solution for all Nagas was around the corner. Then, out of nowhere, the IM leadership changed the goalpost and brought the subject of Flag and Constitution which did not feature in their last 22 years of talks up to the signing of FA. With the signing of Agreed Position on 17th Nov. 2017, WC, NNPGs corrected the political mistake of IM and reaffirmed the political and historical rights of the Nagas to self-determine their future in consonance with their distinct identity. Accordingly, future relationship would be based on contemporary political realities for enduring peaceful co-existence. Today, thereis a clear intention to deviate, discourage and deny the Naga people a just and honourable political solution. What turned IM leaders into anti-solution group?
FACT 1: IM leadership could not accept the fact that WC, NNPGs, in robust consultation with Apex Naga civil societies, NTC, NGBF, Tribal Hohos, Intellectuals, Student Bodies, Ex-Parliamentarians, retired bureaucrats, Legal and Constitutional luminaries etc., had meticulously achieved in two years what they failed to do so through secretive parleys for over two decades. Those IM leaders accusing NNPG of succumbing to GoI policy may once again read both AGREED POSITION and their FA. The two documents are incomparable for a simple fact that FA is a concluding document. FA mentioned IM having understood the intricacies of the Indian system (Constitution). The relationship was to be worked out as defined in the competencies. (since the competencies were never disclosed or explained to the Naga people, it could only mean state list, central list and concurrent list of the Indian constitution!). Indian constitution has a federal structure and this allows federating states to share India’s sovereign powers. IM does not wield any sovereign power to share with GoI and therefore sharing of sovereign powers denotes acceptance of Indian constitution. On the other hand, Agreed Position was a launchpad where WC, NNPGs placed Indo-Naga conflict at a higher trajectory and GoI acknowledged Naga right to self-determination. Agreed position allowed GoI and NNPGs to respect each other’s position and rights, prior to starting political negotiations. Thus, the dialogue between GoI and WC, NNPGs began on a practical note.
FACT 2: Mr. Th. Muivah himself announced at Agri-expo gathering at Dimapur on 29th Feb. 2012, that sovereignty and integration of Naga inhabited areas is not possible at a present time. All negotiating groups know this reality and therefore Nagas hailing from different states must discontinue dishonouring and disgracing Nagas of Nagaland employing bullying tactics. All Nagas have been blessed with own ancestral land although in different states. The effort all must be to return to one’s own native Naga areas and ensure Naga land, culture and tradition is protected.
For the IM leadership, the cream of which comes from Tangkhul Tribe of Ukhrul district, Manipur state, a non-solution offers them greener pasture than the Indo-Naga solution that will naturally, in the absence of land integration, necessitate them to reintegrate with their own kith and kin in Manipur state albeit with increased political and administrative autonomy in Naga areas through political agreement. This prospect, to their imagination, is a prize too little too less. Indo-Naga solution implies an insufficient grazing land for the Tangkhul leadership. Therefore, instead of working for a solution, it is more profitable for them to continue unabated taxation and extortion, burdening Nagaland state and people, Nagas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Prolonging the Indo-Naga issue is the real solution for them! Emotive issues such as flag and constitution are mere pretext to hoodwink the Nagas. In other words, there was, and is, never a real intend to bring honourable political solution to the Naga people.
FACT 3:In recent times the MIP of IM group have perfectly played the role of a mad dog in the print and electronic media attacking prominent Naga leaders, intellectuals and social activists for exposing diabolic policies of IM. Personal attack against prominent members of the society is an attempt to restrict the flow of regenerative breeze. Those attempting to gag fearless thoughts and ideas in the name of Naga political movement are the real anti-national elements. Nobody can question the intellectual stature and contribution of men Dr. SC Jamir, Mr. K.K Sema,Mr. Z Lohe, Mr. Imkong L.Imchen etc. to name a few. These are proven leaders of Nagaland, visionary leaders who guides and keeps Naga society from sinking into anarchy. They are not paid writers or sponsored sloganeers like many commentators. They speak for the society and for the future generations. They are trusted by their own people and community. True leaders must listen to the voice of the people. Mistakes must be admitted and responsibility for failures must be owned. This is a crucial hour for Nagas.
In the past IM leaders have ordered killing of numerous prominent Naga leaders labelling them as traitors standing in the way of Naga sovereignty. Some instances such as the bombing of Late Hollohon’s family, the cold-blooded murder of Late Gen. Povezo Soho, killing of Chalie Kevichusa, killing of NSCN Gen Secy. Dally Mungro, multiple assassination attempts on Dr. SC Jamir, plot to assassinate the then Sumi Hoho President HuskhaYepthomi, quit notice to Alemtemshi Jamir etc. Where these leaders withholding IMs sovereignty? These leaders would give their lives but not deviate from truth.
Post 1975 Shillong Accord killings and 1988 tragedies are grim lessons for Nagas. Thousands of innocent fathers and sons fell to reckless band of killers unleashed in Nagaland, committing bloodbath left and right at slightest suspicion. Prominent intellectuals, entrepreneurs, politicians, bureaucrats who raised voices of concern were brutally murdered calling them traitors of Naga nation. The savagery and cruelty meted out to fellow Nagas by IM leaders and cadres in 1990s was worst than Taliban brutality in Afghanistan. All killings were committed through sweeping orders from the top in the name of Naga freedom movement. Today thousands of Nagas have started questioning ‘Where is Naga sovereignty, where is free Naga Nation, where is political solution, for which you murdered our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and their many friends? The sons, daughters, grandchildren of slain fathers and grandfathers seek answers form IM leadership. Sentiment of the people of Nagaland have been hurt deeply. Stationing men in Indo-Myanmar border and threatening Nagas is rubbing salt to injury on the people’s wound. Today it is meaningless to bluff the people of Nagaland on the Indo-Naga issue.
FACT 4: Nagaland State Chief Minister Mr. Neiphiu Rio, former BJP President Minister Mr. Temjen Imna Along and many other Naga leaders have met the Indian political leadership in recent times. The Indian Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah and a host of central leaders have time and again reiterated GoI’s position. Nagaland state leaders have officially conveyed the position of GoI to the Naga people. GoI has understood and accepted Naga position and accordingly negotiations have concluded. What is not possible will remain so even in 200 years. Now if IM leaders insist on demanding from the GoI symbolic elements which they cannot give, and rightly so because symbolic elements stays within the heart, soul and spirit of Nagas and not smuggled away to New Delhi. GoI recognising Naga political rights, history and identity fulfils Naga aspiration. Now, if solution without symbolic matters is unacceptable to IM group and if GoI will not relent even in four hundred years, let IM group abrogate CF and officially declare talks to have collapsed and walk away. Naga people cannot be a part of IM’s dubious rhetoric.
FACT 5:The people of Nagaland are aghast at the manner in which IM leaders from Manipur are lecturing people of Nagaland about 1918 Naga Labour Corp, the Naga participants of WWI. History is clear that Tangkhuls were part of Manipur Labor Corp and therefore IM leaders from Manipur must not do a running commentary of what they were not part of. Their forefather’s participation in WWI would be in the history of Meiteis and Manipur. Likewise, the 1929 Naga Memorandum to British Statutory Commission do not reflect Tangkhul participation. They did not participate in Naga Plebiscite of 1951 either. On formation of Nagaland statehood, Tangkhuls elders officially told the visiting Naga delegation from Nagaland of their firm desire to remain within Manipur state. This is reality.
FACT 6: On paper Tangkhul Leaders in Hebron Camp sneer and howl against 16 point understanding, Article 371(A) and Nagaland statehood. Branding the pioneers as traitors and enemy of the Nagas. In reality they are enjoying the fruit of Nagaland statehood. All the luxuries they own, down to their lunch and dinner in Hebron camp today, have their origin to Nagaland statehood and Article 371(A). Condemning Nagaland, spitting venom and eating its produce is injecting poison.
The Tangkhuls in the IM wants to run CM Rio’s government in Nagaland. They await each Indian elections to indulge in it neck deep. It is a fat pay check season for IM leaders, causing great financial distress and inconvenience to the people of Nagaland. In Manipur, they set up family members as candidates and lobby for plump portfolios. Through threats and intimidations they seize contract works for their sons and family members. These people do not spare local autonomous elections in towns and villages whereby they gobble up all developmental funds meant for people’s welfare. Today, who is criticizing Nagaland’s Article 371(A)? Let them criticize all constitutional provisions in Manipur if they feel so. 371(A) is a child of Nagaland state and therefore let the people of Nagaland own it.
FACT 7: The people, the Naga tribes are wiser now. Apex CSOs, the Naga intellectuals and the young generation have understood the need to restore Naga history, identity and political right before it is too late. Concept of sovereignty has evolved. Naga people must realign with pragmatic, practical political realities vis-a-vis long term socio-economic restructuring by understanding complex geo-political nature of SE Asia. WC, NNPGs and the Naga people have understood the reality of our time. Let IM leaders continue their struggle but the rest of the Nagas must accept what is acceptable, practical and honourable at a present time. It is unwise to allow few men with despotic agendas and narrative to hold the Naga people at ransom.
FACT 8:It is more than eighty years of Indo-Naga conflict. The struggle is for restoration of Naga political right, history and identity. Political negotiations did not begin with the sole agenda to achieve flag or constitution. The nature of political Agreement will decide how GoI will honour Naga Flag and other symbolic elements. On this the NNPGs critically analysed and negotiated with the GOI interlocutor after numerous consultative meetings with all Naga tribes and intellectual groups. Long before GoI extended official invitation to WC, NNPGs, the ground was ripe with numerous conclaves with Apex Naga bodies in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh briefing neighbouring communities for confidence building measures.
WC, NNPGs is confident that Nagas would exercise their sovereign and legitimate rights that would not be in conflict with India but rather coexist with India which honours, respects and recognises Naga history and identity. Therein lies the soul of Naga flag and constitution.