A panoramic view of the Indo-Naga Issues

Gwangphun Gangmei
Social Research Activist

The current Indo-Naga political talk has culminated to frame-work-Agreement between the NSCN and GOI. The state of political affairs now onstage is critically crucial for the Nagas. The long drawn and dragged history must come to an end for a New Naga Era to begin. The Naga conflict on stage is either for final settlement for a new turn or for an end game. The conflict with India is of Nagas’ sovereign rights and Indian’s claim over the Nagas as Indian and the land as part of India. Any other definition will only twist the meaning to drag on with uncertainty.

Brief recapitulation of Naga history:

The Naga present is what the Naga past have made. The history of Nagas’ resistance against the colonial expedition into Naga Hills was but sporadically executed in various Naga villages with their primary objective to subdue and exploit the Nagas and put them under the British supremacy (Mackenzie 1979:106). The Memorandum to the Simon Commission of 1929 by Naga Club for exclusion of the Nagas from the proposed ‘Reformed Scheme’ of British India, and to leave them alone like they were before was a historic political road-map taken and is the motivating objective  of the Nagas’ struggle.  

The History of Nagas’ struggle tells of Nagas’ claim possession of the present habitation and occupation they strongly believed to have been apportioned to them by God’s creative design and purposed. However their land have been arbitrarily divided and parted with the states of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, and part of Myanmar by drawing Indian states boundaries and international border across the region of their habitation. The Nagas continues to assert their rightful stand to reclaim and restore the alienated portion of their land and the struggle continues because the core case remains unmoved. Here, violation of human rights comes clear on the part of India and Naga people stands subjected and oppressed.

Let us re-examine and re-consider the Naga past. Was it that the Nagas have opted for a short term peace and gain by forfeiting the long term freedom and the progress so far made and gained? The aspiration of the Nagas for peace and the war they fought for freedom is hanged at the cross of crucifixion of Cease-fire politic played by India over the Nagas. The term Peace for the Nagas was neither well defined nor asserted to persuade the counterpart or ignored intentionally by India. To the Nagas, Peace is solution and freedom from Indian occupational rule. To India, Peace is a political answer to quench the Nagas’ aspiration for development and advancement. The politic of cease-fire for Peace without ending the war or attaining the freedom was a political blow upon the Nagas. The Cease-fire is second to surrender. The unarmed man cannot win the armed man. The Naga Military organization under ceasefire cell kept within a designated area and the open Indian Military organizations watching over the whole situation is the clear picture of what Ceasefire ground rule prevails. The Indo-Naga political talk comes near to a settlement yet the battle remains unfinished for the Nagas. The recent Frame-work-Agreement could be the final blow for final surrender or partial settlement for the Nagas. The politics of ceasefire Agreement and Framework Agreement have weakened the strength of Naga resistance movement and the political force of subjugating the Naga insurgency as India viewed was made more effective and advantaged. Following the subsequent progress of the Indian politics over the Nagas, the present stage of talk for Peace (Final solution) has come about with all apprehensions and confusions, wondering what the next outcome would be. The subject of Nagas’ struggle may be neutralized or answered by the current term of Agreement or it could end the struggle to final surrender lest the spirit and rights to self determination of the Naga people is kept protected from the effect of the Frame-Work Agreement. 

“The complex Naga national movement is the outcome of the various accumulative forces of the socio-cultural, ethnic, historical, political, religious, and geographical factors which are inextricably interlinked with each other to give rise to what we know today as ‘Naga Nationalism’ and Naga National Movement.  

The Nagas’ rights to self determination:

The weary yet determined effort of the bygone Naga leaders has sustained the Naga political movement amidst the Indian political and fierce military operation. The Universal declaration of Human Rights guarantees every one the right to a nationality and protects from arbitrarily depriving of his nationality or denied the right to change his nationality. (Art.15). The Nagas are not exceptional. They too enjoy their rights and freedom and therefore it is their legitimate right to assert and determine their aspiration as a people.  Overriding the fact is violation of human rights.  

The issues of Naga sovereignty and territorial integration of the Nagas areas are the two most complicated bones of contention that need to be judiciously resolved. The aspiration of the Nagas to integrate themselves under their self-government is the central objective and mission of the Naga National Resistance Movement. If integration of the Naga areas is forfeited or dropped, the whole issue is lost to naught. To the Nagas, their movement is their hope of survival as a free people and nation. The Nagas believe that India would respect and recognize the Nagas’ right to self determination as a people and nation before the laws and the world. On the contrary, India is claiming and persuading the Nagas and their land to be part of India. 

This is the conflict afflicting the Naga people since the inception of Naga National Movement. There have been history and series of suffering casualties and lost of lives on the part of the Nagas in the struggle to defend their rights over their land and people for decades. The Indian also suffered casualties. The struggle continues as the settlement remains hovering. 

Indian Political Imposition:

Granting of Nagaland state of India in 1st December 1963 was one successful milestone for India in their attempt to stop the Naga insurgency. The ceasefire of 1964 was a step further to garner and harnesses the Nagas under Indian political and constitutional control. The shilling Accord of 1975 was a turning point for Indian political suppressive treatment to neutralize the Naga insurgency by fragmenting the Naga nationalist organisation. 

In the given scenario, India has been gaining ground while Nagas are seemingly losing their stand. Further, India has been trying to drop the issue of Naga territorial integration in the pretext of considering the stiff objections from the neighboring states, as if the centre has no constitutional power to act its rights and reason over their constituent units. The contending issue among the Nagas within is whether subscribing to Indian Union or retaining Naga Sovereignty as a Nation is right. According to a Naga writer, “A solution to the conflict will come only when India recognizes the sovereign rights of the Nagas. Such a solution cannot be achieved under the constitution of India but on the basis of the Plebiscite of 1951” (Kaka Iralu, 2009). Muivah’s statement on sovereignty sounds vague as it simply and generally refers to the people that can be referred either to the people of India or Nagas. The politic of Shared sovereignty is also superficial and a diplomatic term used by GOI to play with the Nagas. Sovereign rights of a nation cannot be shared. It is of universal and divine aspect. Only relation and mutual term of sharing economic resources and products could be maintained and managed. Political and economic rights may be shared on mutual terms of understanding between the two Nation parties. Divinity and humanity are too different things of religion and no human affair can deter or differ or defined to suit human purposes and progresses. 

The Nagas’ case is not demanding for greater Nagaland or more provision within Indian constitutional framework as many think it to be. It is India quitting Nagas’ Land or Quit India Movement.  The view that, “Nagas are not Indian vis-à-vis Indian are not Nagas.”  Both entities differ in many respects. The fact is losing its sanity. The land of the Nagas never belongs to India in time past either by conquest or purchase or consent. It was never conquered but forcefully claimed and occupied by India with her military might in 1955 under Disturbed Area Act. Later AFSPA of 1958 introduced to treat the Nagas with all intimidations and oppressions. The Nagas in time past stood steadfast on their ground. The Naga Liberation Movement was necessitated with the rise of forceful claiming and occupation of India over the Nagas’ land. The Nagas’ struggle was basically a resistance movement against India’s occupational forces. Their slogan was to quit Nagaland. The British quitted India and India became a free Nation. So also, the Nagas must be set free likewise. 

The land of the Nagas has been willfully divided by drawing boundaries and carving out parts and portions for the neighboring states without the consent of the Nagas during the Northeast reorganization in the 1970s and the Naga Re-integration of their divided land is the aspiration and a basis of talk towards resolving the conflict between India and the Nagas. That the final settlement or solution for both the entities must start from accepting this reality. Whereas, India is finding hard to accept the fact and keep imposing their political will and force. Therefore, there is no other real solution available except restoration of each other’s rightful place and status before the world. The Nagas have been reclaiming their land and resisting the Indian occupational politics for decades resiliently. The solution could only be drawn on the basis of realization of each other’s wrongs and respecting each others’ rights.

The Simon Commission of 1929’, “the Naga Plebiscite of 1951” and the recent Naga Frame-work Agreement of 2015 are three historical pillars in view to distinctively determine and draw the road-map of the Naga future. Analyzed, that, the Naga struggle is Liberation from Indian rule and reign. The contention in view is between Nagas’ aspiration and Indian intentional occupation. The Nagas and Indians have been negotiating and bargaining on the Nagas’ Land as Indian’s. Yet, Finality is not the language of politics as Benjamin Disraeli has rightly said. The non-conformity principle of the Nagas and the deep-seated Indian political approach stands face to face to resolve the conflict now on stage for final count-down. What matter in the talk is the moral principle of both the entities to respect each other rights. 

Reviewing Ceasefire and Frame-work Agreement: 

After the deadlocked ceasefire of 1964, the new version of Indo-Naga Ceasefire term of 25th July 1997 finalized on 12 December 1997 revised text of agreed ground rule of 13th January 2001 of NSCN with the GOI for bilateral talk turned poor fruition and unsatisfactory. Discontented because repeated meetings at the highest level; between representatives of GOI and NSCN held at different places in the third countries and at last at Delhi have turned wasted and talks twisted only to gain the Indo-Naga Frame work Agreement on 3rd August 2015. Narendra Modi PM of India commented on the day, “Unfortunately, the Naga problem has taken so long to resolve because we did not understand each other. It is a legacy of the British Rule. The colonial rulers had, by design, kept the Nagas isolated and insulated. They propagated terrible myths about Nagas in the rest of the country.” The top leaders at the centre and leaders of the state of Nagaland positively viewed the Framework Agreement to have a lasting and genuine solution. Eight years running now with no concrete conclusion or fruition appear from both the ends. The recent working committee to work out a possible solution on the frame work agreement that has been established with selected members from Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and bureaucrats to sort out a possible settlement of the Indo-Naga issue remains a dead lion.  

Now the Naga people are seemingly realizing that “Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians”, as spoken by Charles De. Gaulie (1961). The Naga people must be involved in the politic of Naga liberation.  The splitting of Naga political groups into many, and many are now trying regrouping into a major group to represent the Naga people for talk with the GOI. The current Indo-Naga talk looks like a parallel dialogues with India. The NSCN (IM) on one hand and the NNPGs on the other hand on balancing with sweet words in between. It is pertinent that both NSCN and NNPGs resolves the differences and come together on Board for a single talk team or leave the talk matter back to the people at home for further conclusive consultation..It is now high time that the Naga people rally and voice out their decisive stand-point clear to India and the neighboring states. The Indo-Naga Frame-Work-Agreement (FA) on progress is expected to settle soon acceptable to both the parties on moral principle. However, no turn of hope for a solution by FA could be visible or possible. Both sides stands face to face on uncompromising National principle. 

A reckoning moment has come for the Nagas to seriously relook the past path and review the possible Naga future. Appealed and suggested that both the entities; India and Nagas morally respect each other’s rights and position so as lasting and mutual acceptance could be arrived at for final countdown. That both the parties may find a place for peaceful co-existence as good neighborly relation on the basis of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNO1948) and  understanding each other on the term of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UNO 16 December 1966) and Optional Protocol to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (16 December 1966). India as per Art 51 of the Constitution is bound to oblige and comply to foster respect for International laws in dealings with organized peoples.