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EDITORIAL: Price Tag Of Peace

Everything has a price and this price need not necessarily have to be understood through the prism of a monetized system, but pay one must for the price of everything, from cutting down a tree in the forest to the indiscriminate use of plastics to the never ending tendency of the human race to exploit Mother Nature, to almost everything.  The tragedy is, mankind by nature or because of their inborn or acquired selfish and greedy trait, refuses to acknowledge the price that one has to pay for all acts committed today or tomorrow. So it stands that the seeds of the situation that we experience today were sown earlier and the seeds that we sow today will mature in the near or far future. This is the universal truth but the nature of man is such that, this truth is often blurred, deliberately or otherwise, to such an extent that it is not easily discernible and in fact is often mistaken as the exception rather than the rule.

This has been the story of human history and today, Messrs Thuingaleng Muivah, Isak Chisi Swu, SS Khaplang and other leaders of the Naga underground outfits must have come to terms with the fact that like the days of the bush war and the internecine warfare, the peace they are seeking now amongst themselves as well as with the Government of India, has a steep price tag. In fact, it is not for nothing that there is the unsaid but unwritten and universally accepted code that waging a war is an easier option than seeking or maintaining peace. From August 1, 1997, the guns of the NSCN (IM) fell silent in the areas where the Nagas have settled, but this silence did not apply when it came to a confrontation with its rival groups such as the Khaplang faction or the infighting that broke out along ethnic divides amongst the cadres of the NSCN (IM) at Dimapur some years back. Remember Wungram?

With the Khaplang faction too inking a cease fire pact with the Centre, peace became the new mantra that wafted through the mountains and hills of the Naga people, but ironically there is as yet no sign that the ugly past of confrontations and internecine killings have been buried for good, if the latest news coming from Nagaland and Delhi are anything to go by. It was primarily with the objective of bridging the divide amongst the different factions of the Naga armed groups, that the Forum for Naga Reconciliation saw the light of day, but today the very existence or continuance of this Forum has come under a cloud following the resignation of two key members, after a recent clash between the IM group and the Khaplang group in Myanmar not so long ago. There have been charges and counter charges, but this is not the crux of the matter, and far more crucial and important is whether the much anticipated summit at the highest level amongst the three major factions has been aborted or not. Remember Chairman of the NSCN (IM), Isak Chisi Swu is already in Nagaland, perhaps waiting for the summit date while Muivah landed at Dimapur from Delhi on March 3. Khaplang was scheduled to come from Myanmar for the said summit. The   reality is, the K group and the NNC/FGN have already announced that they cannot take part in the proposed summit in such a climate of hostility.

The point should not be lost on us. Coming to the negotiating table after decades of waging a bush war against the Union of India, for which the Nagas have had to pay a heavy price, could not have an easy decision on the part of Mr. Muivah and Mr. Swu. More importantly, the two leaders must have felt the compelling need to convince the people that the bloodshed in the past did not go in vain as the peace they are seeking will be to the advantage of everyone concerned. This is besides convincing the rank and file of the outfit to fall in line. The only obstacle and this is a big obstacle is whether the IM group or the Khaplang faction are ready to pay the price for the peace they seek or not. It was not without reason that thousands were killed during WW II, because there was the growing need to checkmate the growing menace in the form of Hitler, who stood for everything that was against mankind, amongst which peace stood out prominently.

Elsewhere in the world and at different points of time in man’s history, battles have been fought; men have been killed in the battlefields, cities destroyed all in the name of defending what is universally acknowledged as peace. If violence was the means to attain peace, then it was resorted to without a flutter of the eye lids and this has been the driving philosophy behind all revolutions in the world. Peace should not only be confined within the definition of a place or a situation where everything is serene and quiet, but should also encompass other aspects of human lives, such as the rights of the people, equality before the eyes of the law, justice for all, benevolent regimes or Governments, etc, for all these aspects have the potential to rock the peace of a place or a country. This is one reason why we need to understand peace on a bigger canvass for this very term cannot be viewed in isolation but is inextricably linked to all aspects of human behavior and state of human society. A failure to realize this will defeat the very purpose of seeking peace and this is what the Naga rebel groups need to acknowledge first. Peace cannot be an island and such romantic thoughts are only to be found in some feel good novels and stories. In other words, it means, the Naga rebel groups need to come to terms with the fact that the Nagas as a community cannot live in peace in isolation while their immediate neighbors burn with violence and mayhem.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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