Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Retd)
Forest Colony, Kohima
Overall, the objective of seeking the way forward by ”reasoning together towards forgiveness, healing & reconciliation” [The Morung Express: Sunday.April 29. 2018] is a positive initiative on the part of FNR. There is no denying that FNR has immensely contributed to the wellbeing of the Nagas across the board…by reducing the intensity of factional bloodshed at its worst possible period and ushering in the long needed breathing space to reason together, even if the fear factor in the minds of the people still remained. No matter what the outcome therefore, bringing all the warring factions on a common platform to ‘reason together’ was a great achievement in itself. While appreciating and giving credit where it is due with all sincerity, the truth of the subsequent failure on the part of FNR had to do with the lack of courage needed to justly conclude their exercise. When the majority of the factions were prepared to unite…barring one faction, FNR had an obligation to the Nagas to forge ahead and unite the willing majority at the least…rather than helplessly be distracted by one seemingly powerful faction unwilling to join the rest. The distorted principle of forgiveness as enunciated by NSCN (IM) when they said: “We forgive you…you forgive us…now come and join us” was universally unacceptable. The NSCN (IM) ought to have taken cognizance of the simple logic that this principle would be applicable to them in the reverse order if the same was pronounced by the other factions. When we forgive one another we are expected to accept one another as equals and not as a subordinate of one to the other. The FNR needed to honestly point out this ethical flaw to the concerned faction…unless their definition of forgiveness was also in alignment with the NSCM (IM). The inconclusive effort of FNR was therefore rightly picked up by NTC when they managed to bring the 6 Factions together into a Working Group…who now officially sits at the negotiating table with the GoI. A semblance of legitimate relief was therefore restored in the minds of the Nagas of Nagaland in an otherwise lopsided picture of the GoI dealing with only one Faction whose credential was not so widely acceptable…other than being fearfully tolerated. How the GoI intend to synchronise the two negotiating parties to sign the same final settlement…one fails to fathom at this stage…because it will also imperatively have a serious ripple effect when the subject of “Transitional Government” formation is addressed.
The present deliberation is however not a focus on the success or failure of FNR along the long treacherous road of our struggle for self determination but more importantly to concentrate and move on to a more honourable and durable plane of discernment for betterment of our common future. Here too…the fundamental imperative is to recognise the elementary truth that “our individual future cannot be bartered away by any one faction, or groups of factions, without giving an honest opportunity to us…the stakeholders… to know what is in store for the Nagas”, before NSCN (IM) or the 6 Working Groups and the GoI pens the final settlement based on the so-called “Framework Agreement” that the Nagas still know NOTHING about. While the Nagas must sincerely acknowledge the sacrifices made by our true National Workers, our National Workers must also acknowledge the possible limitations in their intellectual capability while finalising an irrevocable agreement that would bind the future of the Nagas race in perpetuity. It is therefore crucially important that the future being crafted should transparently be shared with the stakeholder (which is also inclusive of the fate of the National Workers) before committing it to black and white. The NSCN (IM) has practically used every possible devious means to keep the water muddied while projecting an illusion that they have the support of the masses…who in fact has no inkling as to what NSCN (IM) is trying to achieve even if they mean well. Demanding blind faith is not an option in an issue such as this. Minus their life threatening capability with their assortment of weapons…the simple truth is that they do not command the honest respect of the masses any longer except for those self-seeking political VIPs playing dangerous games for their selfish gains. Any straight thinking Naga with God given brains between the ears ought to have perceived that no Prime Minister of India would want to be seen sitting in a nationally and internationally telecasted event giving legitimacy to the signing of the ‘Framework Agreement’ that concede unbridled Sovereignty to the Nagas in violation of the very Constitution that he is sworn to protect. Further, GoI has been straightforward in their affirmed pronouncement that the issue of ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘Integration’ was off the grid of negotiation. The NSCN (IM) however continues to befool the Nagas by harping on a vague philosophical terminology called ‘Shared Sovereignty’ which, for all practical purposes, just boils down to a division of powers between the Centre and the State within the parameter of the Indian Constitution. Looking at it from this perspective, the Nagas have already achieved a reasonable status to safeguard their identity duly affirmed under Article 371 A of the Indian Constitution. The problem lies only in the Nagas not being able to effectively and meaningfully use it for our own wellbeing. The only area that would perhaps need reinforcement is to ensure that the Indian Parliament is disempowered to temper with Article 371A without the expressed consent of the Naga Assembly. Further, NSCN (IM)’s philosophy of Pan Naga Hoho as a statuary body, overlapping the constitutionally established statuary State machinery, as a solution to the issue of integration without boundary, only compounds the confusion. One fails to understand how the Naga leaders and intellectuals are able to gullibly swallow all these irrational aberrations and still look forward to the much touted solution that is supposedly about to happen.
For the past 71+ years, Nagas have tamely assumed that the Naga National issue is a sole prerogative of the National workers to negotiate a settlement. While thanking them for bringing us thus far, the circumstances of the present have drastically changed. The obvious ground reality status is that the original objectives for ‘sovereignty’ and ‘integration’ appear to be off the shelf. Whatever be the solution therefore…it is apparently going to be within the Constitution of India. If this is the factual status being conceded to, the options drastically alter whereby the State Government can now become a direct legitimate participant and contribute experienced support to the efforts of the National Workers in the exercise of solution rather than remain in the sideline as a facilitator without facilitating anything. One sincerely believes it is time for the State Government to practically enter the ring and set up a High Powered Platform of some kind, represented by trustworthy seasoned Naga personalities from all walks of life to extensively study what the Nagas really want so as to supplement, compliment and reinforce the charter of demands that is perhaps being proffered by the National Workers. It would have served the Nagas well if our National Workers had the bigness of heart to understand their limitations and rope in all the help they can get on their own volitions rather than consider the issue as their exclusive preserve. If this proposed exercise is comprehensively and transparently attended to by the State Government in tandem with the National workers, it could reduce the trust deficit and greatly neutralise the possibility of factional civil war scenario in the aftermath of the final solution executed with only one faction in exclusion of others.
One must assume that there would be other positive alternative options available. This is just one ‘mind tickler’ option being explored as a concerned stakeholder. For those who are honestly concerned, share your thoughts too. It could be the payload answer we seek. With the defining moment at our doorstep without definition, seeking our way forward is a responsibility that must be shouldered seriously by all concerned for our common future.