In terms of people’s participation and feedback, the recently concluded Morung Express Poll on the question “Are Nagas ready to reconcile” should go down as one of the most successful (in terms of participation) in the short period that the newspaper began conducting such polls. In terms of the outcome, it could well be described as negative as almost 60 % had voiced the opinion that the present factional conflict and narrow tribalism does not give any positive sign for reconciliation. And what should be heartening is that an overwhelming majority of people today desire that the warring factions reconcile with each other. Even the 60 % respondents who gave a negative vote seem to have done so not because they do not want to see reconciliation but because of the hopelessness of the situation.
The 60 % may represent the voice of the skeptics but it is nevertheless the voice of the people and their opinion must count. If anything, they represent the ‘bold side of the truth’ which may be like a bitter pill to swallow but necessary to address the issue as it points to the collective failure of the Naga people as a whole. Any attempt to go in for a mid term correction should necessarily take into consideration this section of opinion if past failures at reconciliation are to be corrected and redressed in a more purposeful and result oriented manner.
Rightly or wrongly there are opinions that there is hardly a platform or a bridge to move the reconciliation process. The other criticism is that factions hardly care about the churches these days and that the Church (meaning NBCC in this case) is moving too fast without feeling the pulse of the situation. The other growing opinion is that a wedge is being created by a third hand or in other words the application of the old and tested method of divide and rule, which is increasingly becoming a matter of serious concern. Put succinctly, Nagas are ready to reconcile but do not know how to go about it without getting their hands burned.
To be fair to the Church, it has to be noted that the NBCC has clearly stated that it has a limited role to play. At best, it can create the platform and act as a mediator. So to pass a judgment that the Church should remain outside the loop of reconciliation as mentioned by some respondents is not fair on the concerted efforts being put in by the NBCC and more so when no other civil society group is willing to step in to fill in the shoe of a would be mediator. Further, to answer the critics, it is not that the NBCC is merely ‘talking’ reconciliation but in fact has mooted a workable framework for the Naga underground groups to sit for a series of roundtable talks to be held at a place proposed by the Church. Similar efforts have been made in the past by civil society groups calling for cessation of hostilities but all in vain. The latest initiative of the NBCC should be given time. The onus now lies with the national groups to respond. This is not just the Church’s calling but the voice of the people speaking out clearly that it is time for Nagas to reconcile.