It is that time when focus is needed on the Indo-Naga peace process.
But first, a bit about the Colombian peace process. The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army, or FARC-EP) led a campaign since 1964 for the economic, social and political transformation of the country. In October 2016, four years into negotiating a peace deal, the FARC leaders signed an agreement with Colombia’s ruling government. The agreement was put on national referendum. 50.24% of voters rejected the peace agreement.
Recently, a Colombian citizen explained how the opposition in the government had extensively campaigned against the peace deal in a run up to the referendum. The ruling government and the FARC were able to do little in the face of this propaganda. Unlike the Indo-Naga peace process though, the Colombian process maintained transparency to a large extent.
The agreement, apart from drafts, FARC statements and reports, were made public. But the 300-page agreement was left unexplained to common people, leaving the people swayed by the opposition. The FARC and ruling government’s failure lay here. Inability to explain the deal, as well as getting voters to come out on the day of the referendum, contributed significantly to the failure of the peace deal. Nonetheless, for those who voted and demanded changes, the peace agreement was revised. A new peace deal has now been agreed upon that will see, among others, the FARC become an overground political party in Colombia.
The Government of India—to whom Nagas pay even more taxes in terms of goods and services than to Naga political groups—has not openly revealed the tenets on which the Indo-Naga peace process is based. Guesswork from hints is the best tool people have; why have people not been made stakeholders yet? The Government of India—in whose election cycles Nagas continue to participate—has continued to secretly negotiate with a political armed group denying the Naga people all facets of accountability. What has transpired through more than 80 rounds of talks? On the part of the political group, it has done little to educate the common Naga citizen-to-be on the philosophical, social, economic or political mechanisms that will constitute the Naga polity-to-be. No wonder, then, that an atmosphere of suspicion and hostility reigns large.
So, will a draft agreement be revealed? Say the Naga citizen-to-be objects to aspects of the draft; will s/he have the power (or even the right) to bring revision? Will there be a referendum on it to establish a people’s mandate? Will the powers-that-be grant Naga people the right to live and withdraw standing armies? Or will they be used to unleash terror if people disagree? What will happen to the power mongers in Nagaland State? What will happen to the identity of Nagas who have given their biometrics to the Indian government through Aadhar and other compulsions? Who will own this data? Is targeted violence a possibility? What of economic dependence and established hegemony? What will a Naga government share with the Indian government? What will it own?
What have they been negotiating behind closed doors for 20 years on our behalf?
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