Another Betrayal on the Horizon

As the New Year 2017 dawned, the Nagas were greeted with very disturbing news that was enough to give any person with true Naga blood in him sleepless nights. With the New Year came the news of the Indian and Myanmar governments arbitrarily constructing border fencing cutting right through the lands of the Nagas. This was really like piercing a sharp sword deep into the heart of the Nagas all over again. And we all know that this is not the first such piercing of our hearts. Time and again, the Indian government has demonstrated that it has never been serious enough when it comes to dealing with the Nagas, their sentiments, their aspirations and their lands. Thus when most Nagas living elsewhere focused on issues like corruption, women reservation and ULB election, our Eastern Naga brothers and sisters living in the border areas are made to fight a much more serious battle threatening their very existence, their ancestral lands, their community lives and their will to survive and stay as one people.  

It is a well-known fact that the Nagas have never accepted the arbitrary international boundary pillars set up by the Indian and Burmese governments in the past. Despite these so-called international boundary pillars (some of which even runs right across some Naga houses), the Nagas living in these lands continue to remain one in heart and soul. The Nagas living in either sides of the so-called international border have remained as one family defying all the odds and they never consider their brothers living on the other side as foreigners or aliens. Many of these Nagas living in these lands cross the so-called international border everyday to meet their everyday needs and do their daily chores. This is a great testimony to one and all about Nagas refusing to bow down to the highhanded and arbitrary policy and action of the Indian and Burmese governments that was committed upon the Nagas in the past. I salute these Eastern Naga brothers and sisters for keeping alive the true Naga spirit all these years.  

History says that the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Burmese counterpart U Nu divided the Naga lands amongst themselves after doing an aerial survey of our lands in the early 1950s without ever consulting or informing the Nagas. This is a treachery of the highest order because this clearly demonstrated that these foreign leaders never had any true regard for the Nagas. Maybe they thought that the Nagas were only a tribal, savage and primitive people who would not come to know even if their lands are bifurcated. And maybe they also thought nobody and no nation would come to the rescue of the Nagas even if they divide the Naga lands amongst themselves in this manner. Or maybe Nehru and U Nu thought that, in their new found hour of glory and total independence, they should take advantage of the situation and usurp the Naga lands when no one was watching. But whatever maybe the reason, we the Nagas protest and refuse to acknowledge these arbitrary lines drawn by foreigners across our lands.  

What the Nagas need to learn from this is that the Indian government has never been found to be honest and serious when dealing with us. The Indian leaders say one thing and do exactly the opposite. Referring to the Naga lands, Nehru himself said in 1946 that the tribal areas are those lands that do not belong to India or Burma or any other foreign country. But Nehru became mischievous and tried to usurp the Naga lands which he knew was foreign to India. Again, this first Prime Minister also said that India shall be a union of free people willingly joining the Indian union and that no force would be used upon any people to join the union. But history is testimony to the fact that Nehru did use brutal force to make people join the Indian Union. As far as the Nagas were concerned, it was during Nehru’s time that the Indian army unleashed a reign of terror upon the Nagas as we refused to do anything with this new nation.  

Yes indeed, the treachery and betrayal committed by India upon the Nagas is a never ending episode. In the 16 Point Agreement which gave birth to the state of Nagaland in 1963, it was clearly mentioned that the Naga lands and forests outside the periphery of the present Nagaland state would be returned to Nagaland in due course of time. But this has not happened till date because of the insincerity and dishonesty of the Indian government coupled with the apathy and lackadaisical attitude of the Nagas towards these matters. Moreover, the 16 PA placed Nagaland under the Ministry of External Affairs. This was of paramount importance because this clearly demonstrated once and for all that even Indian government knew that the Naga case was foreign in nature to India. However, in 1972, India again did a treacherous act by unilaterally and arbitrarily transferring Nagaland from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Ministry of Home Affairs thereby apparently making the Naga case an internal affair of India. And the sad part in all these betrayals and treacheries is that the Nagas who should have started a revolution over these matters remained as mere spectators and never raised any worthy protest.  

Today because of all these betrayals and treacheries, our lands and our people remain divided under different administrations. Today we live in a comparatively much peaceful environment when compared to the 1950s and 1960s. But even today we literally live under the shadow of the gun because of tags like ‘Disturbed Area’ and ‘AFSPA’. India seems to be in no mood to relieve the Nagas from these draconian tags because the Indian government still considers our land to be potential battleground which can explode into a full-fledged war-zone anytime.  

We Nagas make a great deal about the Article 371A as if we are completely save and secure under this Article. But time and again, we have seen glimpses which show that this Article may not be able to save us after all. Because when the opportune time comes, the Indian government may easily interpret, turn, twist, wrench or even overrule this Article to suit its own sinister purposes. On and off, we have clearly seen this from the utterances and speeches of prominent Indian leaders. Yes, Article 371A may be just a catalog to appease the Nagas and keep us quiet for the time being.  

So in our long association with India spanning 7-8 decades, it has been one betrayal after the other. So I guess it is time for us to say “enough is enough”. Our Eastern Naga brothers through whose lands this imaginary international boundary runs are protesting against this highhanded and arbitrary action of the Indian and Myanmar governments. And this time around we should not allow our Eastern brothers to fight a lonely battle against two foreign governments arbitrarily trying to divide the Nagas and our lands. All Nagas with Naga blood in them living anywhere should render their support to our Eastern brothers in this very critical battle for survival, unity, identity and our future. The Indian home ministry may be saying that it did not sanction this border fencing or that it is unaware of this border fencing going on. Or official reports may be saying that the border fencing has been stopped. But given the record of betrayals in the past, can we be foolish enough to rest assure just yet? India and Myanmar may also be saying that the construction of this border fencing will not affect the unity and daily lives of the Nagas living in these lands. But given the fact that the Indian government has miserably failed to deliver on its promises and words given to the Nagas in the past…. Let us continue to keep vigil because ‘old habits die hard’…….