Views & Reviews
Sovereignty Is Non-Negotiable
Sovereignty as the goal for Nagas, envisaged by our pioneer leaders was for distinct Naga nationality in her own God-given motherland with absolute power to govern by practicing her own time-tested laws, free from all dominions by external power(s). Before the British advent in Naga territories, Nagas were sovereign in every aspect of their live within their village territories. When the British departure from Indian subcontinent was imminent, the Nagas refused to join Indian Union and decided to restore their independent status by declaring Naga independence on August 14, 1947, a day ahead of India’s independence. The August 14, 1947 declaration was ratified by a Plebiscite conducted by Naga National Council, NNC (the only mandated public institution) on May 16, 1951 wherein, 99% gave their mandate for independent Nagaland. Thus, the sovereignty of Nagaland was not just a birthright but also a declared right. Those historic events were and are constants and not variables because history cannot be rewind. Suggestions and opinions expressed in favor of fresh referendum are unfortunate.
The Government of India, consciously or subconsciously acknowledged the legitimacy of Nagaland’s independence when it entered into a bilateral ceasefire treaty with the Federal Government of Nagaland officially, on September 6, 1964. That was after the inauguration of Nagaland State on December 1, 1963, which in legal context stood annulled. Another peace accord, infamously called Shillong Accord came about in 1975 that brought split in NNC/FGN and NSCN/GPRN sprouted in 1980. The GoI signed ceasefire agreements with all NSCN groups since 1997. The GoI-NSCN (IM) finally signed the Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 at New Delhi. Ceasefire agreements were signed with the GoI to end the undeclared war in Nagaland that started since 1955. All those ceasefire agreements proved that Nagas had negotiated with India for peace only.
No country in the world negotiates her sovereignty with another sovereign country. Nagas must be very clear that Nagas can negotiate with India for peace but not on sovereignty. The sovereignty of Nagaland is non-negotiable as much as it is so with the sovereignty of India. In recent years, many Nagas have started expressing opinions about permanent settlement/solution with the GoI. Many had expressed their fears that Nagas may miss the bus again. Nagas mandated for sovereignty as the ultimate goal. Therefore, as per the stated national goal, sovereignty alone will bring permanent peace between India and Nagaland. There is nothing to settle on sovereignty because Nagas had declared Nagaland as independent state 69 years ago. Nagas’ only demand from India had been to acknowledge and recognize the sovereignty of Nagaland and withdraw her occupational forces out of Nagaland. This may sound utopian in present context but those were historical and political facts. Had Nagas stuck to this ‘one stand in one voice’ all through, history might have been different. It is a national tragedy that the educated Nagas are confused of the national stand and objective, and developed doubt on the stated goal. There seems to be complete confusion between peace and sovereignty. All these things have developed while trying to define sovereignty to suit one’s own philosophy. Yet, the universal definition of sovereignty is plainly clear that ‘sovereignty’ is absolute. The sovereignty of Nagaland is not relative to India and it is wrong to view from that angle.
It is a national shame that people think Nagas can negotiate with India for financial largesse, development package and administrative autonomy. For the sake of regional peace, Nagas may negotiate with the GoI on these issues but only on condition, that India respects the sovereignty of Nagaland as declared on August 14, 1947 and ratified by plebiscite on May 16, 1951. Nagas may accept peace deal but not at the cost of sovereignty.
Dr. K. Hoshi