1. Though there had been denial from the Home Minister the Government of India about the Supra State Body, there is no denying the fact that it has been purposefully leaked to gauge the reaction from various quarters may not be too wild a guess! However, it may be worthwhile to remind ourselves of some historical incidents that may throw some light on it! The NDA Indian Government had to live down some of the bitter truth causing immeasurable discomfort of misrule and abject insensitivity to the cause of the integrity of the State of Manipur in connection with Indo-Naga Cease Fire; and years later respected LK Advani, the then Dy Prime Minister, and the Home Minister intends to come to Manipur to tender his apology for the mistake relating to extension of the Naga Cease Fire without Territorial Limit. And once again, the UPA Indian Government, and respected P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister is poised to tread the same kind of tract as the GoI seems mulling over to cast the net of a Supra State Body all over the North Eastern States enabling the Government of Nagaland to have some kind of say over matters wherever Nagas are inhabited. And this is a much more serious matter than that of the Cease fire if it is the melting pot and people of Manipur must be ready to launch appropriate civil movement!
2. This paradigm of administrative system reminds us of the introduction of Diarchy System in some of the Provinces of Indian States by the British India Government. This feudalistic system of governance based on English feudal-system did not work due to a number of reasons but undoubtedly some of the main causes are the gaining momentum of socio-political Independent movement; and also of the unworkable differences between the English experience of feudal system and that of the Indian ones. Whereas the British India’s attempt was purely experimental with no bias whereas in this case, it is done with a rider—that the interest of the Nagas alone can override the rights and aspirations of the others! In whatever counts one may try to positively respond to it, knowing the dilemma of the GoI, the illogical and sense of injustice inherent in it and after duly weighing the political-prudence-balance, it cannot help working out for even the sum of the simplest calculation for answering 2 and 2 are 4. The unabashed attempts to reward elements who are bent upon dismemberment of the country in some form or the other are being rewarded for their numerous crimes! In fact, they have even been given so ‘much of respect, lift’ and status that even when they issue warning to people other than their own with dire consequences on some popped up reason as headlined in the local dailies does not seem to attract any breach in the letter and spirit of Cease fire agreement between the two parties!
3. In order to understand it may be essential to examine some of the MYTHS that had been created connected with the Naga polity assumed out of proportion attention and importance; and these somehow have to be looked into and explode them! And some of such myths are—
(1) “Birth Right”: – According to their own claim, they seem to have inalienable birth right to land, even to the extent of negating the right of other people than the Nagas. From this wrong premise they proceed and made use of the strength of their polity whether of the underground or of the over ground and they seemed to be all united even including some tribes of the Old Kukis who had chosen to be in the Naga fold! There appears room for proper education on this score if we all want to live together in peace and prosperity; and that all human do possess their birth right.
(2) “Not an inch of Naga territory”:- Of this oft repeated phrase which is on their lips, one wonders who grant them their right on an “inch of Naga territory”? Where is Naga territory? The boundary of the State of Manipur is believed to have been in existence since AD 33—long, long before the term Naga became known and recognized. Individuals do have their own territory or land legally, socially and traditionally. It is not based on something like the Line of Control (LOC) along the Indo-Pak border which is based mostly on some imaginary line and some features on the ground till the two warring neighbors come to an understanding for giving cognition of the same. Having occupied certain tract of land does not entitle one legally till the same is confirmed or established by law.
(3) People in power had scattered the Nagas into different tracts of lands and dismantled their sovereignty since time immemorial! :- To answer this question, we have to further question the following, and we will let The BEDROCK OF NAGA SOCIETY published by the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (I) [p 2-4] respond for as quoted below: QUOTE:
“Did we have an independent political existence at all immediately before the British rule or even during the British days? Were we an independent nation? A political entity or a nation has to be on historical facts. It pre-supposes the existence of a definite political structure that governs a clearly demarcated area of land which is inhabited by a people who accept this arrangement and have close contacts with each other. It also demands that the political structure would be a monarchy, a democracy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, a dictatorship or any other that is universally accepted by political scientists as independent, self-governing and well defined political entity or a ‘nation’. Other areas in the North East like Assam, Manipur, Tripura and the Cacharis had their territories and their kingdoms. Did we?
The stark and inescapable truth is that neither did we have a definite and unified political structure nor did we exist as a nation. We were actually a heterogeneous, primitive and diverse tribes living in far flung villages that had very little in common and negligible contact with each other.
Education did not exist and awareness about the world outside was total absent. Each village was practically an entity in itself. A village does not make a nation. The main contact between the villages was through the savage practice of head-hunting. Mutual suspicion and distrust was rife. People led an insular and isolated life. Internecine warfare was the order of the day. There was no trust or interaction between different tribes. In these circumstances, the question of a unified ‘Naga Nation’ did not arise. No one can dispute these historical truths. There is enough documentation recorded by the British administrators; some as late as the end of the 19th century, which gives correct picture as it existed. We cannot ignore such historical evidence and rely on emotional outburst alone.
We continue to claim we were an independent nation till the British conquered us. Did we have a boundary for our nation? As late as the 1940’s, when the British rule was almost over, large parts of today’s Nagaland did not even exist on their maps. Instead of showing villages the maps showed large blank white spaces with the words ‘Unadministered and Un-surveyed’.
Did we have a ruler or a Government? The writ of a village chief did not extend beyond his village. Did we have a capital city where the government sat? The British Deputy Commissioner sat in Kohima out of convenience. Was this capital city of independent Naga nation that we claim existed before the British? Did we have a currency or a coinage like other kingdoms or nations?
We lived on barter till the British introduced the rupee. Did we have armed forces to defend our nation? Did we have common laws, rules and regulations for our nation as a whole? Did we have an administrative apparatus that looked after the welfare of the people? Did we have roads that linked the nation? These questions cannot be ignored, especially by those who are educated and claim to be the intelligentsia of our society?
Let us face the reality that existed. Let us not distort history and let us not fool ourselves any more. The plain fact is that we never existed as an independent, unified nation any time in our history. Yes, each village existed independently, but is that the equivalent of a Naga Nation? Even the names Naga or Angami or Ao or Sema or tribes by some other names. We led a primitive and brutish life in our villages, uncivilized and unlettered. The word of Christ was unknown and unheard of. Life beyond the village boundaries was unknown Justice was rough and summary. Disease went unchecked. Slavery was common. People lived and died without ever leaving their villages. We had no idea of the concept of a nation or independence or nationhood. Is it right to make these tall claims that we were an independent nation before the British conquered us? Let us be honest about our ancestry and our history. We Nagas always prefer honesty to falsehood, however painful the truth may be. UNQUOTE.
4. The romance and the gravitational pull, as it were, of the Naga Independent Movement has been witnessed and quite a number of Kukis were in their ranks; and the ugly part of the same has also been witnessed and experienced with the change in the leadership when nonmainland Nagas took over the reins of NSCN (IM). The drastic change towards the Kukis with a vengeful objective was so charged that the new leadership had forgotten that they are Christians; and wreaked vengeance on the Kukis for the alleged killing of the Nagas- particularly the Tangkhuls and the Kabuis perpetrated by the NON-Christian KUKIS AS per their propaganda published in The Freedom English daily. The intensity of hatred can be gauged from the fact that they indulged their killing spree even inside the church and on Sundays too. Without narrating the horrifying details of excessive killing style, suffice it to say here that the leadership in the UNC and the NSCN (IM) did not feel obligated even to shed their crocodile tears on the pretext that their volunteers might have exceeded in their act of violence which is but human. But there was no such motivation. I am reminded of a South Korean Pastor who is credited to have said concerning their counterparts in North Korea: FORGIVE US FOR NOT FORGIVING YOU!
Absence of even such basic feeling as shown by the UNC which continues to be the mother of issuing Quit Notices and continuing their so-called economic blockade just because they happened to control parts of highways, and without much except green jealousy to deny the legitimate demands of people inhabiting the Sadar Hills irrespective of tribes etc. Their policy only fit to the old saying: DOG IN MANGER POLICY which my admired R Rungsung in his Response vehemently disagreed with me. There is nothing derogatory about it as it is part of undeniable statement of historical facts.
5. Attempt to re-write the history of the area on falsehood innocent blood with a vengeful objective was unleashed during the 1992-96 Ethnic Cleansing War against the Kukis under the aegis of UNC and the ANSAM in the form of NLG (Naga Um Guards) acting as the vanguards of the NSCN (IM) resulting in the death of nearly a thousand innocent Kukis mostly of children, women and old people; and thousands displaced from their ancestral homes and villages. Despite immense human sufferings, the UNC, ANSAM and the NSCN (1M) which had a good deal of membership as Christians had remained immune and unmoved by these!
6. We have not forgotten how the Honorable Chief Minister of Manipur was subjected to undignified welcome-placards which no decent people would resort to such unrestrained emotional outburst which of course was only manifestation of frustration in being narrow minded and selfish-motivation. And even without such a supra provision they are more likely to indulge in the kind of superlative indulgence on, the kind of insinuation that may not go down well with the people and their tolerance. Let us all behave like good Christians, Hindus and Muslims and live happily and prosperously. ‘What profited a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?
*The article is written by P Gangte.
(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)
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