Thursday, March 4, 2021
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Where do the Naga stand finally?

T.N.Mannen IAS(Rtrd)

Today the entire Nagas are suffering from fatigue syndrome. They are tired, anxious and concern and impatiently awaiting the impending solution. But firstly, as the mystery and secrecy of the historic 3rd August Frame work Agreement was disclosed and shared with the anxious public recently, the suspicion and heap of criticism made accusing the NSCN (IM) of a secret pack with the GOI of selling the interest of the Nagas was found misplaced. But enough damage has already been done in the mind of many in rationalising a negative mind set against one another in the tribal line. In fact, the Frame work Agreement is only a ‘Statement of Intent’ agreed between the two entities (Government in India Vs Nagas) on the basis of which the detail negotiation to settle the dispute amicably be made for sharing the sovereign power mutually, respecting each others’ interest. Thus, the principle of Shared Sovereignty came about which is considered as a Historic Agreement. For, by this agreement, the Nagas had abandoned the core demand of recognising the Naga independent Nation as their birth right and historic truth. (because the Naga territories were never been conquered nor subjugated by any power at any point of time except for a short spell of partial incursion into the south-western part of the Naga territories by the British from 1832- 1947). That is the historical uniqueness of the Nagas which we are all proud of, and has also been recognised by the GOI as well.
Now, in regard to sharing of the Sovereign Power, the different subject matters (competencies) like Defence, Foreign Affairs, home rules, and currency and so on, are to be sorted out mutually for allocation of those matters between the two parties in negotiation. The party shall have full or partial power to regulate and handle the allocated subject matters without interference by the other. The NSCN (IM) has stated that by and large other subject matters have been sorted out except the two contentious issues namely, the Naga Flag and the Constitution. The NSCN(IM) insist that the FLAG symbolise a perennial source of inspiration for Naga unity and affirmation of a distinctive entity under which all the Nagas irrespective of differences has stood by all along and that must be respected. Thus, so far all the factional groups use the same Flag without any problem. It is an emotive issue which is very sensitive for the Nagas. The Constitution (Yehzabo) is to define the regulatory system of governance on the subject matters that are assigned to the Nagas in the details of negotiated settlement
It is most unfortunate that as the settlement negotiation is in its final stage after a prolong tussle of detail bargaining subject wise for the last 23 years, Nagas are made to get more confuse and divided than before with the conflicting news of widely divergent terms and conditions of settlement coming out from the different negotiating groups, namely the NSCN (IM) who has been mandated by the Nags since 2006 to negotiate on behalf of the people. On the other, the 6 NNPGs who are later addition as a recognised negotiating party by GOI. The convenor of the new group has recently stated that the party is ready for signing the final settlement without the Naga Flag and the Constitution which are stubbornly insisted upon by the (IM). Secondly, it is not an inclusive solution encompassing the entire Naga tribes but a piecemeal settlement mainly concerning the Nagas of Nagaland state.
In the process the tribal animosity is once again coming out with all its ugliness. Wonder whether it is fair and just to abandon the fellow Nagas who had together undergone the same suffering and sacrifices shoulder to shoulder all these years? Right from the beginning Nagas has believed in Naga unity and shared common destiny whatever may come. The Nagas irrespective of the place of birth and place of habitat has been inspired by the common dream and the prospect of sharing of same destiny as was articulated by the Naga Nation father figure late A Z Phizo and other pioneering leaders. All the present Naga national leaders and workers irrespective of their affiliation to a faction are all inspired by that vision and joined the movement. In pursuance of that goal, for nearly a century now every naga tribe irrespective of where they are located, have undergone the same extreme sufferings and sacrifices of their finest and the most able young people for the common cause of the Naga. Standing together as one people has been the sources of strength all these long years of struggle. Suddenly with no rhyme or reason, segregating the Nagas into two groups (Nagas of Nagaland and outside) for the sake of solution, is certainly not in the interest of the Nagas and a clear deviation from the vision of the political struggle adopted from the initial stage which is being faithfully pursued till today. If not political expediency, it is also inhuman to just abandon fellow closed comrades without logical reason. It requires serious public discourse before accepting such seemingly unjust measure
. The NSCN (IM) recent transparent sharing of the Frame Work Agreement (FWA) and the subject matters (competencies) covered so far, though very late. it has a positive effect. The people are now more enlightened and are coming out with their observations and comment on those contentious issues and other matters of interest and what need to be done.
Similarly, it will be in the fitness of thing for the 6NNPGs to share with the people about the details of their agreed competencies package that have been sorted out with the GOI. The people have the right to know the details of substantive issues for a healthy discourse before they are finalised on their behalf like the (IM) has done.
If the recent news item published in the local dailies with the caption “Lotus-Eater” by Langphong Konyak is true, it’s shocking and real demeaning for the Naga warriors and is a real deterrent to the Naga cause. Many issue of interest had been touched in the writing which needs immediate clarification from the leaders of the 6NNPGs otherwise, it is damaging to the Nagas as a whole both over ground and underground alike. We cannot effort to allow repeating the bad side of our history of the divide and rule policy and succumbing to the lure of material comfort and benefit. But instead of accusing the other side (Indian) for such a manoeuvre, it is the Nagas who will be responsible for the final and permanent divide unless we consciously control and restrain ourselves. Nagas also cannot allow any organisation to betray the people interest for the benefit of a few.
We may ask ourselves if the conflict of interest come about between personal or a tribe’s interest with that of larger common interest, where do one stand? We expect selfless sacrifices and service for the future good from the leaders especially at this critical moment in NAGA HISTORY. To be a leader at this crucial l moment is a God sent privilege to be used judiciously to the best interest of the people. The action of the day will judge the quality of the leadership. The future history is watching.
GOI needs to extend the deadline of (31/10/19) for final settlement in view of the new political development requiring further extensive consultation with the people.

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