Khekiye K. Sema, IAS (Rtd)
3rd Mile Thilixu Village, Dimapur
We the Nagas of Nagaland needs to wake up from our complacent delusional slumber and decide whether we would like to control our own destiny or have someone else determine it for us. There is no denying that the common man has reached a boiling point of endurance against the multiple "out of control National greed tax" being extorted by our National Workers for over half a century at gun point. Despite this excruciating experience...if we are truly seeking for a lasting peace we need to find it in our heart to pragmatically take time to analyse the choices we have in our hands to ensure that the consequences of the decision we make today does not bring forth indelible regret later.
After travelling the long harrowing road of uncertainty for the past 73 years...the final verdict of the Naga's Struggle for self-determination has virtually boiled down to "No sovereignty, no integration, no Naga Constitution and no Naga flag". This seems to be the final reality. Presumably, all of these subjects are now to be revisited through democratic process in due course after the final agreement has been signed. Going by the experience of the past dealings with the GoI, this proverbial carrot on a stick before the Nagas will remain an irretrievable dream after the final settlement is inked...in a similar way as the 16P Agreement viv- a-vis integration.
Having said this, it is now imperative for the Nagas of Nagaland to focus our attention on some of the potent issues in the "Competency Clauses"...(henceforth referred to as CC) intensely being pursued by the NSCN (IM), such as the subject of "Pan Naga Hoho"...(henceforth referred to as PNH). According to CC of the NSCN (IM), the PNH will be a 'statutory organisation' drawing its membership from every other Naga inhabited areas beyond the "State of Nagaland which will cease to exist" and be replaced by "The People's Government of Nagaland". It needs be kept in mind that this also necessarily means that the map of the State of Nagaland will remain the same without integration. The NSCN (IM) has also envisioned that PNH will have an advisory role in matters of 'education' and 'development' and that the rules of governance of this body shall be worked out by the body in due course "after its formation". This sounds very unsettling as to what might result at the end of such an exercise. When this subject was broached during the so-called 'consultation' meeting of the 14 Tribes along with few other Civil Society present on 18-10-2019 at Japfu Hotel, Mr. R.N.Ravi Interlocutor/ Governor of Nagaland clarified that since Parliament will be enacting the creation of PNH, it can be referred to as a 'Statutory Body' but that it will purely be a 'Cultural Body' without any executive authority over the legitimate State Government other than an 'advisory role' like that of any other NGOs/Civil Societies...and that this Body will not be given the liberty to make any rules that contravenes the norm of an elected Government. On the face value of it, this appears technically sound enough but the fact that NSCN (IM) is pointedly making a huge effort to legitimise this 'advisory role' as part of the condition of settlement does not go down well. The question that crops up immediately is that: if this 'advisory role' is simply equated with the role of any other NGOs/Civil Societies in the matter of advising the Government, whereby the option is left to the Government to accept or reject such an advise...then why even mention it at all in the final document of the negotiated settlement? It was because of such uneasy apprehension that the Senior Citizens, present in this so-called 'consultation meeting' of 18-10-2019 at Japfu Hotel, were pleading to the sensibility of the Nagas of Nagaland to take time out and try to first decipher what is behind the curtain...even if we were to encourage the GoI to urgently conclude the negotiation.
The present picture that starkly lies before us is this: Nagas of Arunachal and Manipur (and to a lesser extent Assam), will have their Regional Autonomous Councils directly funded by the GoI and will have their independent Legislative, Executive and Judiciary authority within these territories. From the perspective of the Nagas of Nagaland...this can only mean that our Naga brothers from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and Assam will not only have complete unfettered privileges within their own respective boundaries but also exercise "advisory role" within the State of Nagaland on 'education' and 'development' through "Pan Naga Hoho". That innoxiously camouflaged word called "Development" covers the entire gamut of responsibility of a Government in power in which PNH wants to legitimise its role of interference! Would the Nagas of Nagaland still want to pressurise the GoI to speed up the process with such deadly loose ends unquestioned, un-clarified and unresolved...to become a part of the legal status of the PNH? This is a never ending story of a selfish motivation of our Southern Brothers wanting to continue enjoying dual privileges both from Manipur and Nagaland post settlement...even without geographical integration. It also becomes reasonably clear as to why NSCN (IM) is pitted against RIIN exercise being executed by the Government of Nagaland.
The grapevines also have it that the NSCN (IM) is pressing hard to establish Pan Naga Hoho within Intangki/Hebron as its epic centre with independent and direct funding from the GoI. While this may be written off as an unsubstantiated hearsay...one can't help feel the ring of truth in it...knowing well the highly possessive and protective nature of control maintained by the NSCN (IM) within this territory over the years. Would the Nagas of Nagaland still want to insist that the final settlement be enacted inclusive of such contentious issues hanging in a balance...unresolved? Have the Nagas of Nagaland only been the 'beast of burden' bearing the load of unbridled excruciating "greed Taxes" of our National Workers for the past 73 years only to instead lose control over what we already have?
In view of such possibilities that could find legitimacy through the final document of settlement so signed with GoI with these obnoxious terms officially included...the Senior Citizen representatives in the so-called 'consultative meeting' of 18-10-2019 at Japfu Hotel with Mr. R.N.Ravi, Interlocutor Governor of Nagaland, had pleaded for restraint and time to allow the Tribal Apex Hohos to revert to their respective Tribes to garner the democratic voice of the majority before the so-called 'endorsement'. The Nagas of Nagaland have had no opportunity to evaluate the "Competency Clauses" being proffered by the NSCN (IM) such as these. The Senior Citizens were hardly questioning the mandate of the President having been election to their respective positions they held but was instead stating the fact that if GoI were to sign the final deal with only a fraction of the Factions, the common man would have to suffer the consequence of being in the centre of a crossfire that would surely result. In such a given scenario...even Mr. R.N.Ravi casually conceded that 'collateral damage will be there but can't be helped'...it was incumbent upon each President of the Tribal Apex Hohos to get back to their people and allow them to be heard first on all the relevant issues that have direct bearings on their future. They may have the mandate of being elected as President but when it concerns the final destiny and the lives of the common man being put in harm's way, they have a responsibility to honestly allow their respective people to have a say in accepting or refusing the consequences that would directly befall them. The utter lack of foresight of some of the Presidents of the Apex Tribal Hohos in this meeting of 18-10-2019 was sadly retarded to say the least. The ball is in the court of the Nagas of Nagaland to decide for better or the worst.