Patience is a virtue
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]aga society in general is now reportedly agog with speculations as to what the NSCN(IM) leadership, Isak Chishi Swu and Tuingaleng Muivah, hope to achieve in their yet another round of talks with the Government of India (GoI). They had left for New Delhi on Tuesday (November 19) in the face of mounting pressure from the Naga public to disclose an outcome of the series of peace talks between GoI and NSCN (IM).Around 80 rounds of talks between the two parties most of which had been in various cities in various countries have taken place since the Ceasefire with the Government of India in 1997. Every time the Naga leaders left for talks, the public were optimistic that some viable agreement or the other acceptable not only to them but the Naga people as well, would be arrived at. The catch phrase was an “honourable” solution acceptable to all. Sixteen years have passed and the public is none the wiser on the issue.
In early December last year, when the collective leadership had announced their departure to New Delhi, there was some inkling of hope that something positive was in the offing. However, they returned shortly before the end of the month on the grounds of celebrating Christmas and New Year at home. They have stayed put until their departure on Tuesday (almost a year later). If parleys have been continuing it has certainly not been in the public domain. Their contention was that they were ready but only awaiting GoI’s response because the ball “is in the court of GoI.” Like all Nagas, they have been wanting a solution “as soon as possible” for the past sixteen years.
In a sense, the NSCN(IM) collective leadership led by Isak and Muivah cannot be held entirely responsible. Looking at the long-pending issue from the GoI’s point of view, it boils down to this question: “How many solutions with how many factions?”.
Till we can find an answer to this question the delay in a final solution will continue to elude the Indo-Naga issue. So who is to be blamed for all this? In the process, other communities like the Kukis and Kacharis have also been alienated by one Naga faction or the other whether within Nagaland, Manipur or Karbi Anglong in Assam.
The NSCN(IM) claims that it is capable of effecting a solution for all the Nagas. However, it is viewed as being primarily concerned with the role of the Nagas of Manipur vis-a-vis Nagaland State. The NSCN(Khaplang) is viewed as also concerning the status, or equation, of our brethren in Myanmar. The NSCN (Kitovi-Khole) is viewed as being concerned primarily with the Nagas of Nagaland State only.
Be that as it may, one of the issues for the NSCN(IM) collective leadership will most likely be that of “self-administration” by Nagas in the areas they inhabit. The other is, by extension the twin issue of “federal system,” accordingly.
Then too, other factions that have sprouted in the process include those which have been described as NNC (Shillong Accordists), NNC (Non-Accordists), NNC (Unification) and so on and all of them differ with one another on some particular point or the other—even to the point of periodic violent clashes between their cadres. No wonder a senior Indian Army Officer once quipped: “Let them kill each other off!”
As such, the main problem of the Naga problem as of now is the killing of each other for whatever reason(s).
This apart, what can be discerned is that the NSCN(IM) leadership’s prime aim is integration of all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. But, then that is also the concern of all the Nagas. Regarding Nagas of Myanmar warrants a separate issue as it has international political ramifications.
Herein also arises the role of the ruling NPF-led DAN Government. Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, has time and again stated that his Government is basically a “facilitator” but has not clarified any “intermediary” role. He is of the view that full Independence may not be likely. However, in view of the long-pending Indo-Naga issue, perhaps a higher political status may be considered for Nagaland State.
As regards integration of all Naga areas, there continues to be stiff opposition from the neighbouring States, notably Manipur which will be adversely affected the most. Its Chief Minister, O. Ibobi Singh, is presumed to survive politically as long as he remains dead against the NSCN(IM). Hence the question of integration might again be evaded in the ensuing talks between GoI and NSCN(IM)—for the time being at least.
With RS Pandey who was former Chief Secretary, Nagaland, as the GOI’s interlocutor and someone who conceptualised “social capital and communitisation” the atmosphere for the talks are likely to be discussed amiably if not amicably.