In an attempt to ‘reason together’ to secure trajectories towards the journey into a shared Naga future, the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) has envisaged series of ‘Open Public Interaction’ inviting honest reflections, constructive criticisms and way forwards. The objective, in a nutshell, is to discuss and explore pragmatic steps of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation processes.
Two such interactions, so far, have taken place in Dimapur and Kohima. The immediate outcome of two proceedings has been highly polarized – many presumptive but also the reflection of ground reality.
The first view is regarding the mandate of the FNR itself. Many considered the apparent cessation of hostilities and violence as well as the signing of the ‘Concordant’ as the end of the Forum’s mandate.
Secondly, identity politics, either political or economic, have become a primary preoccupation of the Naga society. Most adopt a proclivity towards ‘right-wing’ assertion when confronted with such crisis. Consequently, competing narratives and imperatives with many contending ‘Messiahs,’ take over and exploit the situation. “Every Naga is a general, but with no soldiers; A leader, but no followers,” an attendee in one session commented. The public themselves are posited in unique situations – either squeezed or skillfully maneuvering among those imperatives.
With the addition of trepidation over the “Framework Agreement,” the situation is primed for a dramatic course collision.
However, all concerns have been comprehensibly and critically dissected in both the sessions.
The first lesson learnt so far is that achievement of peace or cessation of violence itself is not the end but reconciliation is a continuous process.
The current initiative, therefore, is envisaging beyond any ‘Agreements’ and ‘problemitising’ the existing challenges to mould pragmatic solutions. “Actual political agreement, the clauses and the contents” of any agreement has nothing to do with the FNR as it is not privy to such arrangement, the Forum has categorically clarified.
The question of ‘identity’ is also answered in this context. A larger question one needs to answer is whether Nagas can co-exist as people of common humanity in Naga-land and ensure that they “don’t become a victim of other’s intention.” The identity in this sense is permeable and transcendent beyond artificially and arbitrarily created borders.
It would also involve discarding the burden of the past and not repeating past mistakes by honest examination of people’s inherent and probable fear and struggle which is generating a sense of suspicion and mistrust and propelling the identity crisis.
Carefully examining the larger economic question and its consequences could be a way forward. For instance, the concern over relinquishing and control of ‘resources’ would only add to these struggles. A paradigm shift in the way we perceive development and economic resources need to be deliberated.
To cite one anecdote from one session, an FNR member lamented that while our story ‘was’ unique and revered by others, the Nagas somehow have lost their way and lost the respect of others. “Once we lost the respect from others, we are nobody,” he said. The selfish attempt to command over limited economic resources and largesse is ailing the society and accelerating the rapidly diminishing Naga allure.
The current initiative by FNR, in essence, is most opportune and a critical intervention, for both the Forum and the public. It should go beyond the urban landscape and become ‘mass-based,’ possibly from both ends – bottom-up and top-down.
It would lead to a holistic journey “to healing, to forgiveness, to reconciliation” and thereafter, rapprochement.
To reason together, we need to talk about it.