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EDITORIAL: War To Peace: Changing Tracks

The politics of peace, reconciliation with one’s foe or rival and coming to terms with the harsh fact that life is as much about compromising as it is about upholding one’s principle and philosophy of life, is perhaps the first step needed to work out a solution to a seething problem or a burning issue. Taking a step back or two or budging an inch to have a more rounded view of the reality at the grass root level as well as see and understand the others’ side of view and opinion is an essential part of the journey towards peace and leading a meaningful life.

In today’s political and economic scenario, where the world is likened to a global village, one’s perception and political views and leanings too need to keep track with the demand of the time and it is this fundamental principle which is behind the wind of change blowing across the Arab world. From Tunisia to Egypt and now Libya, the manner in which the power equation changed hands is remarkable and is a grim reminder that the days of the despot or some tin pot dictators are over and it is the aspiration of the average man and woman which will emerge triumph in the end.

If the happenings in the Arab world are all about raising the banner of revolt against a brutal regime, then there is another set of movement, which calls for a certain degree of give and take, compromising on certain demands and conditions without sacrificing what is known as one’s principle and philosophy. This is the wind of experience that is blowing across the Naga community and no one but Messrs Isak Chisi Swu, Th. Muivah and Khaplang will realize this better than anyone in the North East region.

Today the ULFA has split into two groups, one led by Arabinda Rajkhowa which is keen to thrash out all outstanding issues with the Centre, while the other is led by Paresh Baruah, the anti-talk group of the same outfit. Call it nature’s law or a universal pattern but what awaits the leaderships of the ULFA, on either side of the talk divide, will perhaps be similar to the ones that the leaderships of the two NSCNs have been experiencing during the last ten years or so. The devil within is harder to exorcise, is perhaps the best way to describe the situation, if we take into consideration that the primary concern of the average Naga man and woman is ending the battle of turfs between the two rival factions.

Negotiations with Delhi are certainly not on the priority list. It was in the spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and compromising on certain beliefs and values that the Naga Forum for Reconciliation was formed to act as the mediator between the two warring factions. However, the formation of the Forum seems to have come to naught in the light of the increased clashes between the two in Arunachal Pradesh and Eastern Nagaland, the major portion of which comes under the territory of Myanmar. It is the internal dissent, the clash of interest, the self centric approach adopted by either side, that has proved to be the most difficult hurdle before the Naga people and this explains the hint of exasperation and helplessness in the statement issued by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation on March 18.

As we have repeatedly mentioned in this column earlier, maintaining peace and earning the trust of everyone is an altogether different ball game than leading a group of men in battle fatigues and armed to the teeth to launch an ambush on the security forces, and surely Mr. Muivah and Mr. Swu as well as Mr. Khaplang must have started experiencing this change. Delhi has more or less perfected the art of leaving burning issues unattended while at the same time putting on a show of concern and seriousness and this would not have surprised the leadership of the Naga rebel groups.

The irony is, even if Delhi’s politics of divide and rule topped up with a generous helping of deceit, inherited from the British Raj, is something known to all the politically conscious people of the North East region and not only the rebel leaders, no one really understands whether this policy has been put to use while talking peace with the rebel groups or not. The leaderships of the two Naga rebel outfits may have come under the impression that they know what Delhi had for breakfast and lunch, but perhaps they may miss out on the menu. It is this danger of committing political harakiri that must be giving the Naga rebel leaders a lot of headache, including the increasing battle for turf between the Khaplang and IM factions of the same outfit.

Is Delhi up to some mischief and has its name plastered all over the bush war between the two warring factions or are the battles for turf strictly an outcome of the refusal to toe the line of the wishes of the common people by the rebel groups. Are Mr. Muivah, Mr. Swu and Mr. Khaplang under the impression that it is the public who should follow their diktats while the aspirations and wishes of the public can be trashed?

It is this pitfall that the leaderships of the two factions of ULFA must be on guard against. Once comrade in arms, there is no telling when the seeds of animosity bordering on blind hatred may be sown between Baruah and Rajkhowa. No one can say whether Assam will witness another chapter of blood and gore, this time between the two factions. Mr. Muivah and Mr. Swu as well as Mr. Khaplang have and are undergoing the leadership test by fire and the same test will be applied to the leadership and statesmanship of Baruah and Rajkhowa in the next couple of years. We do not know if there is any common strand between being an outstanding statesman and a rebel leader of integrity.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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