A time bomb?
Khekiye K. Sema
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]f late the seeming loss of direction and resolve of the State Government is beginning to appear rather stark nakedly as it fumbles over the events that has been transpiring in the home ground. One couldn’t help feel the depth of depression glossing over the news paper on the morning of 10th January 2014. All the headlines featured ‘Karbi-Rengma tension’ with the handsome bald headed Hon’ble Chief Minister of Nagaland presenting a bouquet to Mr. Shinde, the Union Home Minister. In the same breath of a loud appreciation and affirmation that the Karbi-Rengma tension deserves the attention of the State Government, the absolute absence of a situational review arising out of the Sumi-NSCN(IM) standoff is amazingly mysterious to say the least. So far, leave aside reviewing the situation with the GoI, the Hon’ble Chief Minister has maintained a sublime silence and has yet to make one single official statement explaining the stand of his Government about the ‘flush out of NSCN (IM) from Mukalimi’ and the volatile resolution adopted by the Sumis disallowing NSCN (IM) from having any designated camps in the Sumi inhabited area and their refusal to pay further tax to this organization. This is a problem of a volcanic proportion that will have an adverse ramification on the future of the Nagas as a whole. Other than show signs of groping in the dark, the Government of Nagaland seems to have lost its clarity of thought, vision, priority and initiative. Would the Government of Nagaland please explain where they are leading us to?Take a careful analysis of the events that has now evolved into a Pandora’s box. The unacceptable beating of Kiho GB, Shena and the indecent molestation case of 21st December 2013 were clearly a law and order issue. Cease Fire had no bearing on these acts of lawlessness against the public. Therefore, notwithstanding the Cease Fire Agreement between the GoI and the Factions, it was the bounden duty of the State Government to have acted promptly when barbaric acts of lawlessness were perpetuated by the Factions in violation of human rights and law of the land. Waiting for public pressure to initiate their reluctant action is most unbecoming of a responsible Govt. in power. The simple equation that needs a clear perception by the State Government is that the Factions exists only because of the trust reposed on them by the people for a cause that is intended to serve the greater interest of the masses. When they violate this basic principle and instead turn their guns against their own people with their barbaric subhuman behaviours, the State Govt. is expected to sternly step in and take necessary action against the defaulters…no matter which Factions they belong. The State Government has so far rendered itself impotent by washing its hands off in each and every case of lawlessness and irreprehensible behaviours of the Factions by conveniently sweeping it under the Cease Fire carpet which is a poor substitute of an excuse. The persistent failure of the State Government to define its responsibility and to promptly act when deemed necessary has now unleashed a tidal wave of public wrath which can only escalate into a tsunami in the coming days if this “equi-closeness” policy is not properly redefined. It is a public knowledge that all political parties across the board survive with the support of one Faction or the other during the elections. The Factions can cry hoarse denying their involvement or non- involvement at a price, in the electoral process… but this elementary fact is a common knowledge which can’t be wished away. The NPF led DAN Government succeeded in purchasing their mandate, reinforced by the backing of whichever Faction to win their election and seems to have been neutralised beyond redemption. The Government seems to have sold its soul to the Devil, abandoning its role as the protector of its people, and instead spend all their waking hours in the exercise of recuperating their election investments by hook or by crook. They seem utterly incapable of carrying out their honourable responsibility as a Government without the clearance of the shadow establishment they are linked to. Their lack of propriety and inaction is more than transparent and apparent. While applauding the prompt grant of relief for the families of the Karbi victims of the recent carnage, the present Government’s total apathy and disregard for the Sumis who had died or were injured during the flush out operation at Mukalimi smacks of a sever lopsided partisan attitude. The Government’s show of disrespect to the Sumi Tribe has been total. What I fail to understand is what are the Sumis Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and the MLAs in the DAN Government thinking when not even a word of sympathy has been expressed by their Chief Minister for the Sumis in this whole sordid affair? The course of event that transpired is clear. The Sumis were cornered into an optionless choice. The Government did not uphold its responsibility to act against the blatant lawlessness, no matter which Faction they belonged. It was unfortunate that it happened to be NSCN(IM) in this case. The Sumi people refused to continuously be bullied by the Factions and therefore reacted to this because of the spineless inaction of the Government. The Sumis have been subjected to repeated persecution without restraints being shown by the Factions due to compromises being enacted over and over again by the Sumi frontal organization. Instead of taking a firm stand as a Government should, the Home Minister got involved in a shameful compromising effort to let the Faction off the hook. The Sumis public finally woke up to exercise their right to protect themselves because the Government was unprepared to do so. In the process some of our sons have lost their lives. Not to talk of ex-gratia financial considerations for the victim’s families, the Chief Minister of Nagaland has no official sympathy to express to the Sumi fathers and mothers shedding tears over the loss of their loved ones…all because of the failure of his spineless Government that refused to act. Has the policy of “equi-closeness” blinded, silenced and confused the NPF led DAN Government to such an extent as not to see a balanced picture? There are aggressive Sumis who have not hesitated to voiced their anger, questioning whether the Chief Minister of Nagaland values the lives of the Karbi to be more important than that of the Sumi lives. If the situation is not handled in an honourable manner it could well be seen through a Tribalistic prism and escalate the already volatile situation into a more ugly picture which must be averted at all cost. The Chief Minister must know that the people of Nagaland are more than aware what is causing his tongue-tied ailment but compromising the Government to this extremity of irrationality can only generate further chaos and therefore honourable measures should be considered consciously and promptly upheld to redress the simmering discontent slowly fomenting within the Sumi community. Understand that the ire of the Sumis have still not been directed at the State Government as yet but with its apathetic display of indifference, the focus could change in due time. Admitting a shortfall of the Government and acknowledging the unfortunate loss of lives in an unfortunate incident would be a positive starter to sooth the festering wounds of insult that has thus far been unloaded against the Sumis. While the families of the lost children have made no move to seek Government’s financial relief, it is incumbent upon the Government to consider their cases sympathetically, including those who were injured. It is the humane and honourable thing to do for a just Government without seeking permission from the NSCN(IM) if that is what is bothering them. The fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the Government of Nagaland for their inaction and not on the Sumis. Therefore the needful must be done. Testing the collective wrath of the Sumi Tribe or for that matter any other Tribes, would be a foolhardy exercise which can only result in a counter-productive conclusion.
Further, the present situation of a standoff between the Sumis and the NSCN (IM) forebodes disaster in the making if not tackled wisely. Does the Government propose that this situation be allowed to follow its own perilous course or consider finding an alternative course of reconciliation between the warring parties. To my mind, the Sumis are a part of a Tribal brotherhood and would be prepared to show due respect and listen to their counterpart Tribal brothers provided a reconciliation package is honourably presented, no matter how angry they may be at the moment. The Naga Hoho should have been the right forum to step in but it is unfortunately more concerned with the Pan Naga Issues and does not seem to recognize that this kitchen problem has everything to do with them as well. With a dismal scenario such as this, it is incumbent upon the State Government to initiate a dialogue with all the Tribal Hohos to gather their collective wisdom on this sensitive development and begin an interaction both with the Sumis and the NSCN(IM) to find that middle path. Doing nothing is not an option. We are sitting on a time bomb. When it blows it will disastrously impact not only on the Sumis and the NSCN(IM) but the Naga population as a whole with the ultimate irreparable damage caused to the Naga National Movement.
I speak as a concerned senior citizen, unaffiliated of any political party. I am ringing the bell to wake the Government up from its indifferent slumber. What lies ahead is an unpleasant picture that the Nagas should best avoid.