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Honorable And Acceptable Final Settlement Of Indo-Naga Peace Talk

Once Alexander, the great said “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion”. We are happy to hear that a 10-member team of the NSCN-IM including Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman and Thuingaleng Muivah, General Secretary is meeting the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi to find an honorable and acceptable final settlement of Indo-Naga Peace Talk. The Narendra Modi-led NDA government had appointed the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), R N Ravi, as the new interlocutor for talks with NSCN-IM. But it will be too much to expect for any tangible result this time due to absence of other stakeholders comprising of representatives of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and lack of clarity of the demands of NSCN-IM. Mr. Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman, NSCN-IM and Thuingaleng Muivah, General Secretary are camping at Hebron since 18 October, 2012 for a “home consultation” with various civil societies and other factions to reach an honorable and acceptable final settlement of Indo-Naga Peace Talk. On 18 Oct, 2014, Mr. Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser said “An early and a result-oriented end to talks with Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM is required for restoring the rule of law in the troubled northeastern state of Nagaland.”

We want Manipur to be a safe place for our future generations, we want Manipur to be free from communal conflicts, communal dis-harmony and disunity. We should look forward to a strong united Manipur which can compete with any civilized nation of the world. We should work for solidarity and unity of all Manipuris irrespective of political affiliations, religions caste or creed. Manipur belongs to Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis, and Meitei Pangans. We should not allow ourselves to be used as pawns by an outside force to fight against each other. To this end, Mr. Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah have great responsibilities for ensuring a peaceful North East.

The history of Naga National movement is a long and tragic history. The Nagas have suffered to the extreme and have made great sacrifices to achieve Independence. We have all the sympathies, love and admiration for such a long and protracted struggle for independence or self-determination in which thousands of lives have been sacrificed. Some of the remarkable events were as follows:-

Remarkable Events

  1. In 1866, a part of the Naga Hills under the British Indian control was coalesced into a district. In 1875, a subdivision was opened at Wokha to exercise control over the Lotha Nagas. In 1878, it was decided to transfer the headquarters of the district to Kohima in the heart of Angamese country.
  2. In 1918, after returning of 4000 Nagas from World War-I in France, twenty Nagas including few government officials and leading Naga chiefs formed an organization known as the “Naga Club” at Kohima for promoting the interests of the Nagas. The Club was informally supported by local British administrators and Christian missionaries.
  3. On 10th January, 1929, twenty Naga representatives submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir John Simon which was boycotted by the people of India to consider the political reforms for independence of Nagas based on “unique history of Nagas.” Under the Government of India Act 1935 which was passed on the recommendations of the Simon Commission the “Naga Hills District” was declared to be treated as “Excluded Areas” on March 3, 1935
  4. On 13th November, 1941, Robert Nail Rides, Governor of Assam announced in Shillong that “a direct British ruled crown colony would be formed with the Kachin state of Northwestern Burma and India’s Northeastern hill areas and the planning is on process.” But this could not be materialized due to “Quit India movement” launched on 8 August 1942, by Indian National Congress leading to arrest of 100,000 persons and killing of 1000 volunteers without producing any tangible results.
  5. In a memorandum presented to the British Government in June 1945, the Naga National Council (NNC) demanded an autonomous status for the Naga region. When the report of the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India was published, NNC passed a resolution on 19 June 1946 at Wokha in Mokokchung division. It stated that it was against grouping of Assam in Bengal, and wanted the Naga Hills District to be included in an autonomous Assam in the independent India. It further emphasized local autonomy for the Naga Hills District, and a separate electorate for the Naga tribes.
  6. In November 1946, Gopinath Bardoloi, the Premier of Assam visited the district. In February 1947, the NNC council passed a resolution at Kohima. As a result of this resolution, on February 20, 1947, it submitted a proposal for interim Government of Nagas, under a “Guardian Power” for a period of ten years. They didn’t explicitly state who the “Guardian Power” should be (Government of India or the Provincial Government or His Majesty’s Government). In 1947, the Bardoloi sub-committee came to Kohima for discussions with the Naga leaders. The Bardoloi subcommittee was constituted with Mayangnokcha Ao as a member, but he did not accept the position. Hence, Aliba was taken in his place.
  7. On 27 June, 1947, a nine point agreement was signed between NNC and Sir, Akbar Hydari, the Governor of Assam. Within three days, the Naga public rejected Sir Hydari’s agreement. Sir Hydari threatened the Nagas with military might in presence of Sir Pawsey, Deputy Commissioner and others.
  8. On 16 May, 1951, a Naga plebiscite was inaugurated and it took six months to complete. On 29 December, 1951, A.Z Phizo, leader of NNC informed Jawaharlal Nehru about the verdict of the Plebiscite. The NNC claimed that 99 per cent of the Naga people supported a referendum to secede from India, which was summarily rejected by the government of India.
  9. On 7th August, 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru declared in the Indian Parliament that “We want no forced marriages or forced unions. This great republic of India is a free, voluntary, friendly and affectionate union of the States of India”. But the examples of Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manipur were neither based on free, voluntary, friendly and affectionate union nor on non-violence.
  10. On March 30, 1953, Jawaharlal Nehru with his daughter, Indira Gandhi visited Kohima along with the Burmese Prime Minister U.Nu and was greeted with derision. This was followed by an even more impressive “walk out” protest by ten thousand Nagas from a meeting convened and addressed by Prime Ministers Nehru and U Nu. A civil disobedience campaign was launched.
  11. On 25 March, 1955, the fighting with the armies of the Government of India began in Naga hills.
  12. On March 22, 1956, the N.N.C. set up its government–the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) and hoisted the republic’s flag. Within two months, it raised a standing army called “Naga Safe Guards”. The N.N.C. activists also formed the Naga Home Guard (NHG) and an underground Parliament called “Tatar Hoho”. The Naga government was strongly supported by the Burmese Communist Party. It shot down an Indian Air Force transport aircraft on a supply dropping mission and the crew were held hostage for many years. Soon large–scale violence erupted throughout Naga Hills.
  13. On April 11, 1962, the President of India issued the Nagaland Security Regulation, 1962, for the suppression of subversive activities, maintenance of essential supplies and services and control of military requirements.
  14. In August 1962, Nehru moved in Parliament the Bills for the 13th amendment of the Constitution and for the creation of the state of Nagaland. The Bill was given assent by the President on September 4, 1962 merging Naga Hills with Tuensang Division to create the state of Nagaland in 1963.
  15. On 1 December, 1963, President Radhakrishnan inaugurated the State of Nagaland at Kohima. Mr. P. Shily Ao became the Chief Minister and declared the occasion “a day of rejoicing” and “the day to redeem our pledge”. The Indian government viewed the Naga problem seriously, and declared the N.N.C., Federal Government of Nagaland and its army “unlawful associations” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 on 31 August, 1972.
  16. On 11 November, 1975, the “Shillong Accord” was signed between the Government of India and the N.N.C. Under this agreement, the NNC had agreed to accept the solution of the Naga problem within the framework of the Indian Constitution, abjure violence, bring out the armed men to surrender weapons and resolve the residual problems through discussions.
  17. On 31 January, 1980, several underground Naga members, who had strongly opposed the Shillong accord , led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah ultimately formed the “National Socialist Council Of Nagaland” (NSCN) with Isak Chishi Swu as the Chairman, S.S Khaplang, a Hemi Naga of upper Myanmar, as Vice–President and Thuingaleng Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga of Manipur’s Ukhrul district, as the General Secretary.
  18. On 30 April, 1988, a failed attempt to assassinate Muivah led to the split of two NSCN- NSCN led by Isak and Muivah (NSCN-IM) and NSCN led by S.S. Khaplang (NSCN-K).

Start of Peace Process

Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao set the ball rolling by meeting with Isak Chishi Swu and T. Muivah in Paris on 15 June, 1995. During the talks Mr. Rao underlined the Government’s stand: “We must solve the problem through political talks and dialogue”. The Indo-Naga peace talk has been continuing for the last so many years without any tangible result except creation of Nagaland in 1963.

Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda went as far as sending the former Union Minister for State, Rajesh Pilot in November 1996 on a trip to Bangkok for bringing the NSCN (IM) to the path of negotiation. Mr. Deve Gowda and NSCN (IM) leaders met on 3 February, 1997, in Zurich, Switzerland. The ceasefire with NSCN (IM) came into force in August 1997.

The Cease-fire agreement between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M group) was successfully negotiated on 31 July, 1997.

Change in the demands of the NSCN-IM

The original demand of the NSCN –IM was sovereignty. When sovereignty was out of question, then the NSCN-IM insisted on Greater Nagaland or Nagalim or of “integration of contiguous Naga areas” According to the Telegraph Newspaper’s report under the caption “PM Rules out NSCN Core Demands : Rio Plead for Right Choice” (18 April, 2012), the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh reportedly expressed his inability to accept the NSCN ‘s core demands of “integration of contiguous Naga areas”. The Prime Minister reportedly said to Rio, Chief Minister of Nagaland – “Whatever is possible will be possible even after 100 years, whatever is not possible will not be possible even after 100 years. Now the demand is “Alternative Administrative Arrangement pending a final settlement”.

Here, the NSCN-IM needs to clarify what is the meaning, concept, scope, strategy and implications of the so-called “Alternative Administrative Arrangement” and also what is the shape of the “pending final settlement”. The people and other stakeholders including the Government of India will hesitate to go forward without knowing what “final settlement” is. The peace making process should be transparent and open. The NSCN-IM wants an honorable and acceptable final settlement. We wish that the final settlement should be concretized and implemented during the lifetime of Isak Swu, Chairman and Thuingaleng Muivah, General Secretary of NSCN-IM and S.S Khaplang, Chairman of NSCN-K and at the same time, it should not violate the rights of the majority and rights of other communities and should not destroy the 2000 year old history of Manipur. The geographical structure is the anatomical structure of a state. The administrative structure is the physiological structure of a state. For a healthy and peaceful communal harmony in a state, you need the normal functioning of both anatomy and physiology. Otherwise it cannot exist and it will be a dead body. It may lead to unnecessary bloodshed. It may exist in large countries like UK where England and Scotland co-exist together even though they have separate flag, separate currency etc. But it will be suicidal for a small place like Manipur. The wisest and best policy of NSCN-IM will be to stick to more representation, more autonomy and more power for Nagaland without disturbing and dislocating the functioning of neighboring states.

If the NSCN-IM choose to disturb neighboring states, the Government of India will choose to keep on postponing the peace talk on one pretext or other till wisdom prevails on NSCN-IM. That is why our Honorable Home Minister Shri Gaikhangam said “NSCN-IM is having a pipedream.”

Present Constitutional Position

Under article 371A of the Indian Constitution, Nagaland is enjoying a special status. No Act of Parliament can disturb Nagaland in respect of -a. religious or social practices of the Nagas. b.Naga customary law and procedure c. Administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law d. Ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

Government of India’s offer to constitutional amendments

The Government of India is seriously taking up the Indo-Naga peace talk with all sincerity and commitment. We have heard many times the offer of the Government of India to constitutional amendments to make an honorable and acceptable final settlement with NSCN-IM. The word “acceptable” means “acceptable to all stakeholders”. As early as August 2009, Union Home Ministry Secretary G.K. Pillai said that the Centre is drafting a proposal to place before the NSCN-IM leaders as a solution to the Naga problem and may even consider amending the Constitution to accommodate their demand. The NSCN-IM should grab this God –given opportunity to enhance their prestige and image, to empower Nagaland and to bring peace in the North East India.

Pre-conditions before final settlement

We want and expect that the NSCN-IM should be able to speak and act as the sole representative of all Nagas. In order to project the NSCN-IM as the sole representative of all Nagas, there is a need to fulfill the following conditions in their own interest.

  1. Presently there are conflicting demands from the four districts of eastern Nagaland for statehood. On 27 June 2002, NSCN (K) cautioned against NSCN-IM using the term ‘Nagas’ in place of NSCN (IM). In another press release dated 11 July 2002, the NSCN (K) went to the extent of declaring Th. Muivah a non-Naga, stating that Tangkhuls are not Naga citizens. Why the NSCN-IM is locked in a bitter fight with the NSCN-K, dominated by the Konyak (the largest Naga tribe in Nagaland) and Hemi Nagas (who live in contiguous areas of Burma). Why the ZUF is directing the NSCN-IM to leave the Zeliangrong areas of Tamenglong and its ‘neighboring areas on 9 October, 2012. For an effective final settlement, NSCN-IM may declare that they are representing all Nagas after making a peaceful settlement with all the groups. Various Naga groups are asking “Can Muivah or NSCN –IM represent all the Nagas? “Blaming Meiteis may enhance the prestige of NSCN-IM but it will miserably fail to bring the final settlement. NSCN-IM has to bring unity and solidarity of all affected groups. NSCN-IM should be fully prepared to answer this question to all stakeholders.
  2. NSCN-IM may convince the Government of Nagaland to Include Tangkhuls, Kabuis, Maos, Marams and other groups as the Nagas recognized by the Government of Nagaland.
  3. The next question is – “will the people of Nagaland respect the leadership of Manipur Nagas including Muivah”.

Suggestions

We are happy that the “honorable and acceptable final settlement” of the 60 year old Naga issue is in the offing. In this connection, the Government of India and the NSCN–IM may consider the following suggestions:-

  1. The present special status given to Nagaland under Article 371 A of the Indian Constitution is in respect of religious, social practices, customary laws and procedures and ownership and transfer of land and its resources. It does not speak of political power. The NSCN-IM may consider for a separate Nagaland Constitution, a separate National flag, separate currency, separate National Emblem, separate National Anthem, priority consideration in appointment of Governors and Ambassadors, a separate Legislators Council with a minimum of 40 members, increase of Rajya Sabha seats to five based on equal representation of states as done in USA and other countries.
  2. Strengthening of the existing Naga Regimen in the Indian Army by recruiting another 20,000 Naga youths including the surrendered NSCN cadres. Presently, there are more than 90,000 vacancies in the Indian Army. The Government of India usually threaten Pakistan Army saying that our infantry armies were once “Head Hunters”:
  3. Special recruitment drive for Naga youths in the railways, Coal Mines, Air force, Navy, Security agencies –twice a year every year for the next 10 years.
  4. One Central University, one Central Medical College, one Engineering College for Nagaland to be 100% funded by the Government of India.
  5. Construction and development of Highways, State and Inter village roads in Nagaland.
  6. Teak and Rubber Plantation in all forest areas in Nagaland.
  7. A grant of Rs. 20000 crores every year for the next 10 years to gear up the development gap.
  8. Suitable posts for the leaders of NSCN – Union Minister Governor or Ambassador or Chief Minister.

*The article is written by Dr. Khomdon Lisam.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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