A note to the Forum for Naga Reconciliation on 15 years journey

N Kitovi Zhimomi
Ato Kilonser, GPRN/NSCN & Convener, WC,NNPGs

I extend deep appreciation to FNR Convener Rev. Dr. Wati Aier and conflict resolution specialist Dr. Akum Longchari and all FNR stalwarts in the last fifteen years, who have helmed the Naga reconciliation process. I bring greetings to you from the family of WC, NNPGs. I thank our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for His mercy and sustenance.

Today, all of us have added a few more wrinkles and grey hairs. We are reminded of the Journey of Common Hope we collectively pledged before God and man. The effort to turn swords into plough shares has taken fifteen years. We have lost few signatory leaders along the way but we still believe that Nagas can survive as a people with distinct political and historical identity. 

What was achieved in the last decade was remarkable but we must also introspect, turn the pages and see why we, as witnesses and signatories of a number of declarations, reneged on our promises and failed our people many times. Our own faults and weaknesses can be justified to our fellowmen but we can never justify our mistakes before Almighty God. FNR created space for dialogue within the Naga family and touched the conscience of the Naga public and revolutionary leaders alike with covenant milestone events. We have met in Chiang Mai, Delhi, Kolkata, Dimapur, Kohima in many Churches and Mission centres. It caught the attention of GoI and Nagas alike across artificial boundaries. This endeavour must go on with renewed zeal. FNR must remain fearless in the face of extreme pressure and call a spade a spade. At times Nagas have experienced eerie silence at critical hours but as empowered and anointed by tribes and civil societies to bring healing to our divided family, FNR must continue to offer intellectual critique on the rampant and disturbing commercialisation and personalisation of the Naga political issue.

I hope FNR will remain a moral and spiritual force, a keeper of Naga conscience, stand eyeball to eyeball to all creatures, big or small, in the Naga Ark. For the sake of future generations, there should not be any spell of silence.

The Framework Agreement between GoI and NSCN (IM) was signed on 03rd August 2015. It took the Nagas by surprise. Perhaps FNR too was kept in the dark. The salient features are explicit; Political negotiations have successfully concluded; the two sides have understood each other's positions. The signatories understood the intricacies of the Indian system. Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi specifically appreciated and welcomed the NSCN(IM) leadership and men into the national mainstream. 

At that point of time, the immediate question which struck the stakeholders was, did FNR orchestrate the entire Naga reconciliation process to facilitate GoI and one Naga negotiating group to exclusively seal the deal, without consulting the genuine stakeholders back home? Were COR, Journey of Common Hope, Lanten Agreement etc. a politics of convincing the GoI into believing Nagas have reconciled in letter and spirit? Was the GoI misled and the Naga people fooled? Undeniably, the sudden and exclusive nature of the FA ceremony on 03rd August 2015, poured cold water on all ground-breaking FNR initiatives. Were all the top leaderships' prayer programs, signed declarations for forgiveness and proposals for shared future simply to spin an inclusive narrative but inwardly preparing ground to sign exclusive FA in 2015? We live in a cruel world and that is a reality. The non-transparent protocol of FA enforced till today is what the Naga people cannot fathom.

Post FA, the ground reality of the Indo-Naga political issue needed a comprehensive and inclusive solution. A political document cannot be kept away from the Naga people. The non-disclosure of FA raised multiple questions but nobody answered. This has hurt the Naga sentiments. If Rev. Dr Wati Aier, as FNR Convener, has a comprehensive post-solution political and administrative blueprint of FA, he may declare it to the Naga people for deliberation and general acceptance. Political documents, in the Naga context, must first pass the scrutiny of the people.

On 17th November 2017, the GoI and WC, NNPGs signed an Agreed Position. Political negotiation is vigorous political discourse, a desire to understand one another. Naga history and political identity cannot be dismissed, discarded or wiped off by GoI or any power on earth. Recognising Naga rights, their land and identity is the foundation of WC, NNPGs and GoI negotiations. WC, NNPGs consulted all apex Naga tribal bodies and civil societies prior to sitting with the GoI interlocutor. A parameter had to be set. The salient feature is, GoI recognised the right of the Nagas to self-determine their future in consonance with their distinct history and identity. Indo-Naga conflict solution would be pursued with due regards to contemporary political realities. Based on this mutually agreed position, negotiations started. By 31st October 2019, WC, NNPGs also successfully concluded political negotiations. We worked hard to reclaim and preserve our history and Political identity in a practical manner. All said and done, the status paper is in the hands of the Naga people. There is clarity on all crucial matters.

Clapping and slapping are two different emotional and physical reactions in human beings. Nagas, as a people, seems to have lost the ability to differentiate between the two. FNR witnessed "SEPTEMBER JOINT ACCORDANT" on 14th Sept. 2022, wherein the signatories agreed to form, "Council of Naga Relationship and Cooperation." 

FNR organised another meeting On 14th February 2023, after thorough deliberation among top leaders present, we jointly agreed to sign and release a statement captioned "NAGAS ARE MOVING AHEAD",  I, Mr N Kitovi Zhimomi, Convener WC, NNPGs and Mr. Q Tuccu, Chairman NSCN (IM), consulted our respective senior leaders. "... we declare unconditional commitment to collaborate on the basis of our respective agreements, with immediate effect, for the resolution of the historical and political rights of the Nagas...". A few days later, on 18th February 2023, NSCN (IM) MIP declared FA was the only basis for any understanding and they do not acknowledge any other agreements. I am sure FNR read the statement. It is sad that the practical and higher understanding of the Indo-Naga political issue vis-a-vis Naga Reconciliation Process as understood by leaders like Chairman Q Tuccu, Vice Chairman Tongmeth Wangnao and others seems unacceptable to some. The very statement on 18th February 2023 by NSCN (IM) MIP condemned its own Chairman's signature of 14th January 2023. 

Perhaps it is also a time for FNR and all Naga intellectuals to take a closer look if it is really the GOI which is delaying the Naga political solution or others toying with the people's sentiment. Changing goalposts to create a stalemate is a negative commitment to not resolve the Indo-Naga political issue. I am convinced that practical problems cannot be solved by emotional slogans.

Is there an indication that for some Naga leaders, no solution is better than a solution for them? That appears to be the intent. I wish, hope and pray that FNR would pull up its sleeves, buckle the seatbelt and like an experienced and alert driver, would continue to drive expertly around sharp turns, slippery paths, rocky and steep climbs and take the passengers to their destination. It is challenging indeed but WC, NNPGs will always answer to the call of the Naga people. 

I congratulate FNR on attaining fifteen years. I hope it remains responsible, authoritative spiritual and moral compass for all Nagas to rally behind. May God Almighty process our thoughts with greater insight and wisdom.