Views & Reviews
Free Movement Regime in Free Nagaland – A Living Testament of Aggression and Occupation.
On January 20, 2024, Amit Shah the Union Home Minister of India said in Guwahati that the 1,643 km India-Myanmar border would soon be fenced and also scrap Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement with Myanmar. Nagas declared independence on August 14,1947. The British granted independence to India on August 15,1947 and to Burma (now Myanmar) on January 4, 1948. The so-called FMR came into force at the dawn of 1950s. Its area of operation was within Naga territories called free Naga areas where, neither the erstwhile British India nor the British Burma had administrative control. When Nagas refused to yield to even pressure tactics to join the union of either India or Burma, India invaded Nagaland in 1954 (already declared independent). The aggression led to Indian occupation in western side of Nagaland post-a decade long Indo-Naga war. In free Nagaland, Burma imposed military rule in free Nagaland after the Panglong agreement in 1947. (Panglong agreement was a political instrument aimed at to bring the Nagas and other ethnic people into the Union of Burma. The free Nagas rejected the agreement and declined to sign). Since then, Nagas had been living in occupation situation.
The Naga independence declaration was the historical proof that India and Burma had no direct international boundaries as Naga territories are sandwiched between the two countries. In other words, both the countries have international boundaries with Nagaland only; India in her northeast and Burma in her southwest. These historical facts speak for themselves that FMR has no locus standi in/for the sovereignty of Nagaland.
The Indo-Myanmar FMR agreement was nothing but the law of occupational powers imposed on Nagas living in the region. From operational aspect, FMR is not a civil law. It is a military law to control and monitor the movement of the local people. In such a situation, the conditions of the people are no less than being holed up in a concentration camp. As a matter of fact, the plan to erect fence over artificial boundaries in the heart of Naga territories has only exposed the reality of occupation situation. For occupational powers, FMR has proved to be a failed experiment. FMR also proved that the occupational force has no firm foothold on the territories they claim and occupy. They must have realised then, that so long as FMR is in force, they have no right to claim legitimacy over the occupied territories. Probably, this is the reason the government of India now plans to erect fence over the artificial boundaries. It is a calculated plan that, with permanent fencing, FMR will automatically cease.
Conversely, had there been substantial development at ground, the story might even be different. After all, development changes the landscape as well as people’s attitude by uplifting their living conditions. Regrettably, that was not the reality at ground. Even in this millennium, people’s living condition, particularly connectivity, in Free Naga areas are almost the same as in British period because of the occupation situation. Occupation situation had subjected the Nagas in the region to unimaginable ordeals of suffering. It is not surprising because in general, the concept and design of occupation by force is such that, the occupational power will neither invest in development activities nor allow the local people to develop by themselves.
To the occupational powers, their so-called borders are for their militaries only. It is not for development under civil administration. Thus, it is plain from the realities at ground that the two occupational powers want the Naga territories but not the people.
FMR and the plan to fence the border had been aggression policies since long. To demand for continuation of FMR from occupational power is nothing less than admission of subjugation. No Naga should not make such colossal blunder. All in all, our struggle is to end foreign occupation of our country and become a nation among nations as declared on August 14,1947. Historical right is on our side to demand complete withdrawal of occupational forces from Nagaland. Nagas should only work in that line. Nagas should reject all foreign laws imposed on us in our own land and live free according to our own established customary laws. Nagas had been always free to determine our own movement in our own land since the time of our ancestors. No other authority had dictated our ways of life. This had been our birth right. Our fathers took the right political decision at the right time to determine our future as independent people as was always.
So long as the Nagas are united, no power on earth will separate the blood brothers against their will, not even temporarily, let alone permanently. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 because that was the will of the people. It should serve as good history lesson to policy makers of the governments on both sides. The will of the people is supreme. Any policy against the will of the people so affected will collapse sooner or later.
Dr. K. Hoshi