Naga Peace Process: ‘Wary’ yet committed & hopeful

Pfokrelo Kapesa
Dimapur | October 28  

The general feeling among the public on the political talk between the NSCN (IM) and Government of India is one of disillusionment but an unusual commitment to the national (sic) cause seem to pervade all doubts and apprehensions.

These feelings were reflected at the recently concluded prayer summit themed ‘Submission to the Will of God’ called by the Council of Nagalim Churches (CNC) at Agri Expo Site, Dimapur on October 25.  

The summit, held against the backdrop of an ‘impending solution’ to the Indo-Naga political issue following the August 3, 2015 ‘Framework Agreement,’ saw the attendance of hundreds of ordained ministers and clergies from Naga inhabited areas, cutting across various Christian denominations, as well as general public.  

It was also a call for ‘collective’ repentance as well as “God’s intervention in the Indo-Naga political dialogue” for a ‘peaceful honorable solution.”  

Different churches and religious bodies were consulted to make sure that everyone was a part of the program and that no one was left out before finalizing the program of the summit, informed Ph Daniel, Head Chaplain and member of the organizing committee.  

‘Tedious journey’

For Reverend Lengtherüh of Naga Baptist Church (NBC) Myanmar who traversed both international and national boundaries to take part in the summit, the ‘journey,’ literally and figuratively, has been “very long and tedious”.  

He had to take a bus from his village to Yangon, and proceed from Yangon in a Bolero to the border village Somra (India-Myanmar border) and into Ukhrul and finally to Dimapur.  

The political process has been going on for too long implying that people in Myanmar “do not have hope in sovereignty.”

Despite this, Lengtherüh said that his motivation for the Summit is an earnest plea for a ‘Divine’s will for a solution’ as well as praying for the Naga cause. As an old man, he may not be lucky enough to get another such opportunity, he explained, adding, “What is impossible to men is possible with God.”  

“My tiredness were nothing compared to the joy I feel when I see the big hall filled with so many people, all there to pray for the Naga cause,” the Reverend noted.  

Evangelist Kena of Tutsa Baptist Church Council (Arunachal Pradesh) said that the invitation for the prayer summit was not very clear but the idea of all Nagas coming together to pray motivated him to come along with his friend and Missionary Panrap Wangno.  

He said that Nagas in Arunachal are growing impatient with internal conflicts. “Divisions are our weak point,” he said, adding that “prayer is the key to bring unity.”  

‘Divine intervention’

For LK Peter of Holy Cross Church, Dimapur, it was rather an unsettling feeling that made him come to the summit. “I had a feeling the political talks have failed” he said and that the leaders called the meeting as a result of that.  

According to him, the speeches and messages at the program confirmed this apprehension and added that “a gathering like this is only symbolic”. When asked why he came then, he responded “I don’t want to be a disappointment to others and I want to show my support to the cause”.  

Chaplain Daniel argued that “the church has a big responsibility in uniting people and can be a bridge.”  

Asked if the prayer summit was called as a last resort, he said “I am not the right person to answer that.” He however added that “our leaders both the NSCN (IM) and civil societies have done their best and it is just right that the church steps in.”  

Rev Aping Khamrah, Pastor of Somdal Baptist Church, Ukhrul meanwhile felt that “it is the appointed time of God” and the prayers would go a long way to strengthen leaders when they negotiate with the Government of India.  

He expressed hope that the “prayers would move the hearts of the Indian leaders and our neighbors too.” Asked on the ongoing political talk, he said “I am just a pastor in the village, I don’t know details about the negotiation” but added that the solution that comes should be nothing short of integration.  

A peaceful and inclusive ‘peace’

Vizoli and Tiainla are two Naga women who work with the Meitei community (Chumukedima Manipuri Baptist Church). Tiainla says that in this way, both Nagaland and Manipur are their homes. Despite not knowing details of the negotiations, she hoped that solution should bring peace both within the Naga community and with neighbours.  

Vizoli added that “instead of pointing out each other’s mistake we should be more accommodating and have mutual respect when it comes to dealing with our neighbors and at the same time, we should pray that our neighbors do the same.”  

Pastor Z K Zeme of Haflong Baptist Church who also came for the prayer summit said that he had full confidence on the leaders negotiating.  

When asked on the possibility of not including the Naga areas of Assam, Arunachal and Myanmar in the present Framework Agreement (FA), he said that “any solution that will come will and must include all the Nagas or else there is no solution at all.”