Sparks of Naga Freedom Movement

ZK Pahrü Pou
Mission Colony, Pfutsero

To presume that Naga Freedom Movement is going to be collapsed by itself or crushed by mighty India is completely wrong.  It has gone through several difficult situations but survived for decades. It is far from over. From the early 1950s, India have been trying to abolish Naga freedom movement by employing different tactics. Believing in the ideology of “Might is Right,” India sent thousands of armed forces to Naga inhabited areas to physically terminate all our leaders and those who took up arms to defend their rights. Then Armed Forces Special Powers Act- (AFSPA)-the cruellest and inhuman law- was introduced targeting not only the Naga freedom fighters but also the innocent civilians.  Divide-and-rule policy was applied by keeping the Nagas in different states and countries. in the process, several accords and agreements were made to trap the Nagas and many surrendered cadres were also absorbed into Indian armed forces. Confusion and suspicion were created among the Nagas resulting to the killing of many Nagas by the Nagas. Apex Civil Society Organisations of the Nagas were targeted, attacked and weakened to a great extent. Perhaps, India’s RAW and Intelligent Departments might have secretly played the role of creating many Naga political groups (factions). Tribalism and tribal-based organisations were introduced to further the division among the Nagas. Without addressing the whole Nagas, India tries to destroy the movement through piece-meal deal by promising economic package or regional/territorial based autonomy within the framework of India. Another ploy is the introduction of Forest Bill-2023 that allows 100 km of international borders for constructing defence-related projects such as camps for paramilitary forces. The GOI, perhaps, as a last resort to crush the freedom movement of the Nagas scraped Free Movement Regime (FMR). And now an attempt has been made to fence the whole border areas and paralyse the Naga freedom movement. 

India’s attempt to crush Naga freedom movement through military might have failed. Even her divide-and-rule policy was not fully successful. In the name of tackling the issue of drug smuggling and illegal immigrants, FMR was scrapped and an attempt to fence the border is made. Fencing the border area will never ever solve drug smuggling problem because there are many incidents where India’s army personnel and state’s influential politicians are involved in drug smuggling. Also, to deal with the immigrants there are democratic ways. Hence, the hidden agenda of the GOI to scrap FMR and to fence the border is, once again, to further divide the Nagas and their national movement by stationing hundreds of India’s armed forces at the border. Now this policy is bouncing back to India as it makes the Nagas to be more cautious, united and stronger than ever before. From top Naga politicians, to leaders of various CSOs and NPGs, to common people, everyone is against India’s policy of scraping FMR and border fencing. The ever-hardening stance adopted by the Hindu fundamentalists to suppress the rights of the minorities and the ethnic conflict between the Kukis and Meiteis in Manipur makes the Nagas realise that they need to be united for their future and survival as a nation.

Today, one can see the sparkling sparks of Naga freedom Movement burning in every nook and corner of Naga’s homeland. The spirit of nationalism roams across the breadth and length of the Naga country. Elders in the village continue to narrate their stories of involving in it. Villagers sit around the fireplace and discuss about freedom. Farmers continue to talk about freedom in their homes and working places. Small tea stalls and hotels continue to carry the sparks of freedom talk. The hearts of people living at the remote areas and borders are pumping with liberation dream. It resides lively at the heart of thousands of freedom fighters(NPGs). The dream of freedom is spiritualised. In Churches and prayer centres, this talk continues to be an important part of worship. Preachers continue to preach about freedom and the believers continue to pray with tears. Fasting programs were frequently held asking God to liberate the Nagas. People continue to prophesy and dream dreams about freedom. Such sparks continue to burn in the study room and writings of patriotic Naga writers, and scholars. Freedom is not only a spiritual necessity but also the means for the Nagas for achieving security and the fullness of life: politically, economically, and socially. 
Today, Nagas started to look the other Naga from the eye of Naga nation. They look at each other not as an individual but as Naga; not as someone belonging to other tribe or region but as Naga; not judging on the basis of one’s membership to an organisation (ENPO, UNC, NTC, etc.) but as Naga. They are realising that Naga freedom movement is not a one family issue or a particular tribe or a particular group/organisation issue but it belongs to the whole Nagas even for the generations to come.

They have realised that it is of no use criticising and judging the other Naga as everyone has weaknesses in one way or the other. They have understood that their differences are not a problem anymore. “If Tamilians and Punjabis can live together as Indians although they totally different, why can’t the Konyaks and Marings live together as Nagas” they asked? If Malayalams and Gujaratis, who do not share any thing in common but are bounded together by the notion ‘India nation’, why can’t the Poumais and Aos do the same under Naga nation? They continue to say, ‘if Narendra Modi (a mere graduate) can lead India as Prime Minister, then Neiphiu Rio can be the Prime Minister of the Nagas. Today, India have exhausted all her strategies to destroy Naga freedom movement. The tactic of prolonging the Indo-Naga talk did not douse off the spark of Naga nationalism. It is rising up once again. Deep at the heart of every Naga individual (although their approaches differ) bears the spark of freedom. India may be able to kill the Nagas bodily with guns but can never kill the spirit of freedom as it is engrained in their heart, mind and faith.

Nagas are moving together as one people and one nation towards achieving their birthright. The GOI should not make another attempt to divide the Nagas and try to settle the Indo-Naga political issue from the weakest point as in the past. Such technique will never bring a long-lasting solution. Genuine solution will come only when the Indo-Naga issue is resolved from the strongest point which include the acceptance of the right to self-determination of the whole Nagas.