Khekiye K. Sema, IAS (Rtd)
3rd Mile Thilixu Village, Dimapur
The Interlocutor Governor of Nagaland called for a consultative meeting of all the 14 Apex Tribal Hohos of Nagaland along with other Civil Societies on the October 18 at 2.30 pm at the Conference Hall of Japfü Hotel, Kohima. In the eyes of the International Community, this day, 18-10-2019, could be logged as a ''Historic Day" or a '' Day of Infamy,' for the confused Nagas being tantalized in fluent English language to swim in blood all over again by India. What could happen next...IF India chooses to take its future action based on the so-called 'mandate' of this un-mandated meeting...is going to determine the fate of the common man of Nagaland for no fault of HIS at all...because...the insignificant 'common man' who is actually 'the stakeholder'...has not been consulted by their respective Tribal Hoho Presidents...who vehemently believe that they have the right and full authority to decide the future of their respective Tribes, by virtue of their position as an elected President...in the very identical manner that NCSN (IM) and other NNPGs think that they can decide the fate and the destiny of the real stakeholders without consulting them! The wonder of wonders is that this 'common man' has made it explicitly clear that since the subject concerns their very own immediate and intimate destiny including their posterity...being reviewed..."the powers that be" have an inalienable obligation to directly consult the stakeholders before the final verdict is sounded by their leaders on their behalf!
With a cheerful countenance the Governor of Nagaland and Interlocutor, RN Ravi first made it known that other likely dissenting civil organizations like UNC of Manipur NSF, NMA etc. were also invited but had declined their attendance giving their excuses...just so as to first paint a picture of open-minded fairness and fair-play on the part of the GoI. He conducted this meeting as the Interlocutor...with the Governor of Nagaland visibly lurking within a legitimate background. Citing his past interaction and experience with various Civil Societies as an Interlocutor... The Interlocutor came to this meeting with a predetermined conclusion that Nagas are incapable of a united voice! That indeed is a true perception of an Indian to the letter!
The "Framework Agreement" of 3rd August 2015 that has been under wraps for so long, along with the other equally secretive 'preamble' of a similar nature signed with the 6 NNPG Working group on 17th Nov. 2017, was repeatedly read out verbatim in this meeting. For the very first time the GoI, the NSCN (IM) and the 7 NNPG Working Group has been making their respective effort to openly reveal the content of these "Framework agreement"/"preamble" and "competencies" to the stakeholders. Why? Each sector: GoI/NSCN (IM)/& NNPG Working Group(WG), wants to establish some level of legitimacy of their respective points of view and action to the international community in order to avoid accountability when the shit hits the fan. As for the average common Naga, (the stakeholders) who perhaps has less educated comprehension or understanding of the complexities and intricacies of Indo-Naga political jigsaw puzzle, other than react against the vexatious payment of unbridled tax to 9 NNPG Factions because AK 47 is stuck at his face has neither the clue nor the clarity of vision to realise that their representatives have sat at the vortex of a tsunami that is about to be unleashed by GoI, with the collusion of a stubborn tectonic plates in the form of NSCN (IM) on the one hand and the historically insensitive tectonic plate called the GoI on the other, craftily represented by the Interlocutor Governor of Nagaland. Interlocutor has made it absolutely clear that the GoI will sign the agreement with agreeable NNPGs and take necessary course of action against those in disagreement. From a safe protected sanctuary, the Interlocutor Governor of Nagaland indifferently regrets that the civilian population will unavoidably be in harm's way in the cross-fire, as a collateral damage that can't be helped. Thank you Sir for your crocodile tears!
Now, let us try and put everything on the table fairly in its right perspective without fear or favour. It is definitively beginning to dawn on the people of Nagaland that the NSCN (IM) has thus far not been completely honest with the stakeholders and has been playing with the sentiments of the Nagas with "their half truths along with their self-righteous shallow conjectures of shared sovereignty theory" right up to this point. They have repeatedly told the people of Nagaland everything that they have been telling the GoI but not what GoI has been telling them in their Indo-Naga discourse. On the other hand, the GoI also seem to have confidently concluded that the Nagas neither know their history nor have any command over the English language to understand the terms of the "Framework Agreement" that they were a party to. The Interlocutor Governor categorically made it clear that Nagaland was and is a part of India during this 'consultative' meeting ...maybe if he too is in command of his English and revise his Indian History truthfully, he could find it awfully difficult to back up his statement with historical facts to prove that the Nagas were ever a part of the Indian race at any given point of time in history. The fundamental truth is that India did not even know that a race called the 'Nagas' existed before the British colonial regime just as much as the Nagas did not know of India's existence. The Nagas have the right to therefore humbly ask him to explain his historical reality to say that Nagas were and are a part of India and also explain the "Unique History" as acknowledged by the GoI.
Yes Sir, we do agree that 'the Nagas cannot tell India to leave Nagaland'...which perhaps Nagas would want to say but for the lack of muscle power. The essential reality is to do with the question of whether Indian has a conscience that dictates what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and what is unfair? It's an ethical issue. By virtue of India's population and military might it can dictate term as it damn well pleases; this the Nagas know. It was absolutely unnecessary to rub it in into our faces. But India too must realise that the spirit of freedom in a people cannot be crushed by sheer brute force. Did India not try this course of action in the past? But did better senses not prevail leading us to this point of resolving the conflict through peaceful dialogue/discourse instead?
As has been expressed before, the "Framework Agreement" is a cleverly crafted document that is opened to definition depending on which side of the fence one belongs. Therefore, just as much as NSCN (IM) has been playing around with words like the "Unique history of the Nagas,” and "Shared Sovereignty," so is the GoI. The simple truth understood by the common man is that India is a far too superior a force for the Nagas to confront and contend with when it comes to brute force but this does not necessarily devalue the inherent God given rights of the Nagas. Be that as it may, this is the very first instance in the long torturous journey where both the GoI and the Factions have begun to show some semblance of transparency by reverting to the real stakeholders for a change by revealing the true picture of the two faces of the same coin, not because they want to but because they have run out of viable options to go forward... each trying to establish their respective credibility for their questionable actions that is about to explode on the face of the helpless stakeholders who will be smack in the middle of a cross-fire that their respective intended action is about to perpetuate.
It was because of the foreseeable scenario such as this that the Senior Citizens present in this meeting had pleaded for restraint and a reasonable time extension so that: (1) Each Tribal Hoho could go back to their respective Tribes and garner their respective Tribal voice of the majority on the issue of speeding up the solution at all cost or take it steadily and rationally forward for a lasting peace by allowing time to the Factions to honestly speak to the Naga people. After all, the Nagas have spent 73 year in a limbo and 22 years of negotiation, what will it cost GoI to spend the next few more months beyond their present dateline and establish an unquestionable platform of final legitimate endorsement for a follow up action? (2) That the Nagas will also get the much needed time to confront the NSCN (IM) to come up with honest explanation on the issue of 'Naga Constitution' and 'Flag' with all the other issues of "Competency Clauses" that they have shared for the very first time without affording any debate on it. Such an exercise will bring about some clarity for the stakeholders to take the final call.
History has clearly shown that India has never consulted or taken the Nagas seriously by unilaterally throwing all the past agreements into the dustbin...like the 9 point Agreement; the shifting of Nagaland from the Foreign Ministry (as envisaged in the 16 point agreement) to Home Ministry; the agreed funding through the Consolidated fund of India; the issue of integration; the International boundary between India and Myanmar etc. It is about to repeat the dishonourable past by taking a unilateral aggression against the stakeholders all over again. The consultative meeting of 18-10-2019 by no stretch of imagination can be considered as a mandate of the stakeholders...who have not been given an opportunity to be heard by their respective 'big-headed Presidents' of the Tribe who have rooted for a quick solution come what may. The Interlocutor knows this to be a fact but it serves his dateline ultimatum well. The bottom-line is this: There is no doubt that the common man is dead tired of the sustained taxation by the National Workers for over half a century and do want an early solution. It however should be done with the honest endorsement of the stakeholders on board. Period!