Views & Reviews
From Amsterdam to Hebron, Dimapur
In 1972, the GoI of india arbitrarily transferred the affairs of Nagaland state from Foreign Affairs to Home ministry citing Law and Order problem. Interestingly, the then Legislative Assembly of Nagaland immediately reacted and vehemently opposed the same by unanimously adopting a resolution which reads “……Nagaland should continue to be under the Ministry of External Affairs and the decision of the Govt. of India so taken be withdrawn forthwith” (29-6-1972). However, no serious opposition came from the public side. The GoI must have considered the Naga public’s silence as “acceptance” of fate. The process of de-internationalisation of Naga political movement thus, began. During 1966-67 peace talks, the Naga delegates (NNC/FGN) were accorded reception in a manner befitting foreign dignitaries. The Naga delegates were accommodated at the Hydrabad House- a building in New Delhi, used by the Government of India for banquets and meetings for visiting foreign dignitaries. Talks were also conducted at the highest level-between the prime ministers of two nations, India and Nagaland/Nagalim. Archival record shows that the two leaders, SmtiIndra Gandhi Prime minister of India and AtoKilonser of NagalimKughatoSukhai maintained cordial relationship and even shared lighter moments across the table besides, political negotiations. As early as 1985, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India appointed N. F. Suntook to contact the NSCN leaders for ceasefire and political dialogue, but for some reasons the attempt could not materialise. However the policy implanted by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was not a total failure as the effort of bringing Naga political leaders across the table was continued by successive prime ministers. The high watermark of Naga aspiration for self-determination came in 1993 when the “IM” of NSCN gained entry into the UNPO (Unrepresented Nations People’s Organisation), by far, a milestone achievement unparalleled by any Naga political organisation in internationalising the Naga issue. “This” development rang a bell of alarm in the ears of Indian policy makers- not long after admission into UNPO the Indian agencies began contacting the IM top brass, and here and there meetings took place before a formal ceasefire agreement was signed on 1st Aug. 1997. By the declaration of the ceasefire, the political talks between the two entities started, based on the following three conditions: (i) Without any condition; (ii) At the Prime Minister’s level; and (iii) In a third country. Judging by the aforementioned conditions any sane person would conclude that the GoI had reserved highest respect to the IM, hitherto, the honour accorded on any other insurgency. All was well until the IM “agreed” to come to India to hold talks with GoI citing, “convenience sake”. To me, the IM coming to India was a fall into pit due to short sightedness and lack of vision. This paradigm shift in IM policy was a diplomatic blunder-By coming to India the IM had handed their rival a crucial point. India could now show to the world Indo-Naga issue as a mere domestic problem. India silently began to destabilise Naga political movement without attracting condemnation from international community. The group that once used to give sleepless night to Indian agencies and also used to make India’s face red in international forums is now trapped inside a cage. All exit doors had been shut and its leaders being molested at will. The once “mother of insurgency” is now reduced to ‘just another insurgency’ capable of disposing anytime. The Indian agencies were alarmed by the IM gaining ground in international arena, hence, they set out to neutralise this threat before it is grew out of their control. The result was “Cease-the-fire” or “Cease-the-Movement” in the Naga context. From the very beginning the motive of ceasefire was to destabilise the Naga movement under the guise of peace talks. They played their game and we naively fell into their trap. History reckons that India is careful to avert internationalising Naga issues. For instance, when A.Z Phizo established diplomatic ties with western countries, India felt the jolt and graciously presented statehood as a means to cornerPhizo. When NNC/FGN leaders reached China, India felt nervous and reached out to the breakaway group. Again when the IM group entered UNPO India felt pain in old wounds and offered ceasefire. All in all, the conduct of Indo-Naga political talks from Amsterdam to New Delhi to Dimapur was a diplomatic blunder, exposing themselves and laying bare naked in the sight of enemies had worked dis-advantageously against them. The once Prime minister level talk is now reduced to a bureaucratic level talk. Perhaps, whether IM could reclaim their lost glory or not can only be known by the fate of “the lost man”, Phunting Shimray.
(NGUKATO K. TSUIPU)