The ‘Camp’

Dr. Asangba Tzüdir

Zone of Indistinction, Lawlessness and Life

Two contrasting events in relation to the Naga Political Issue vis-a-vis Peace Process have taken place in the last few days. Addressing the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN HQ in New York, the Secretary General of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) Neingulo Krome said that the Indo-Naga issue has reached the “finest moment for a political settlement that would recognise the rights of the Nagas as a distinct people.” Yet, he also invoked the intervention of the United Nations and the International community to “hold the GoI accountable” should the current talk break and ceasefire abrogated. In contrast, the degree and intensity of the stand-off between the Assam Rifles and NSCN (IM) has not only threatened the Naga Peace process but has also validated the amorphous nature of the ‘conditional’ peace process. Both these contrasting events, however, proves that the ‘moment’ and time for the political settlement is no where ‘fine.’


Both parties have given official statements with AR demanding the NSCN (IM) to vacate the ‘unauthorised camp’, while NSCN (IM) have served a condition that their boys be allowed to go to Khangkhui Shirui designated camp (earlier vacated through mutual understanding) in case they move out of Sihai. In such standoffs, the ‘Special Powers’ vested on the Armed Forces moves at a threshold between ‘law’ and ‘politics’ in a ‘zone of indistinction’ of ‘law’ and ‘lawlessness.’ Thereby the ‘lawlessness’ comes to define what is ‘unlawful’ which in turn legitimises setting up their ‘camp.’ The ‘Special Powers’ then creates a ‘state of necessity’ within the premise of ‘disturbed area’ whereby the Sihai Village local ground became such a politically ‘militarised camp’ with Army trucks and Assam Rifles stationed to assert their unlawful power and authority by positioning mortars in combat in order to ‘terrorise’ the NSCN (IM) cadres camped in Sihai and more so the innocent civilians which would also, among others, set their objective rolling bringing the Civil Society Organisations to ‘negotiate’ on their behalf. Moreover, in such a tense situation, it is the civilians that get sandwiched, and thus, the onus of maintaining peace falls on the civilians.


Dwelling on the idea of the camp, modern day camps can be taken to be any ‘spatial perimeter’ where ‘war’ and ‘killing’ is legitimated through ‘exceptional laws.’ It not only proves the paradigm of biopolitics but also the way in which the very ‘rule of law’ operates wherein a supposed law enters into a ‘zone of indistinction’ between ‘law’ and ‘politics’ giving rise to a juridico-political law. Such a political order becomes institutionalised on the ‘body’ of the humans and displaces humans from the institutional and legal framework beyond any discourse on justice, ethics and morality.


The current political impasse, and the military combat response only reflects the emerging hegemonic regime and privileged executive control claimed as ‘temporary measure’ but traverses a trajectory that makes them into a permanent state of being bringing out the deep structures underlying the shifting currents of our evolving contemporary political landscape, and the vulnerability of life.


Given the ongoing experience, and the sovereign framework within which unwarranted power operates and with hardly any consideration for the human rights violations it sounds romantic to say that the Naga political process has reached the “finest moment for a political settlement that would recognise the rights of the Nagas as a distinct people.”


For now, the ‘dichotomy’ of the Indo-Naga issue, of political settlement and peace process somehow finds hijacked within an unlawful militarised ‘camp.’


(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to asangtz@gmail.com)