The final chapter
Khekiye K. Sema
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]uch of our Naga History has been written and shared in the print media for some time now…views that have either been accepted and acknowledged as the truth or being relegated to the dustbin as a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of facts…continuously subverting the Naga History into the realms of controversy. Finding clarity within this mired confusion is no mean task for sure and yet this is an imperative exercise that each concerned Naga citizen must now decipher in an effort to discover the truth with an open unbiased mind. 67 years has been a very trying time that has been spent in indifference and Nagas must now take a stand to end this confusion without fear or favour… for the sake of our posterity. Truth must be given an honourable space in all our discourse.1. Nagas began a publically visible journey of self-determination in 1929 with a “leave us alone” representation to the Simon Commission. The 1951 Plebiscite laid the all important foundation of legitimacy to this claim. Mr. Phizo was solely instrumental in awakening the dormant Naga minds to strive for our own separate identity and sovereignty, without which the Naga History could have been entirely different. For this one inspirational act of self discovery, Nagas owe Mr. Phizo an eternal gratitude. The Nagas took the first determined step towards this common goal in complete unabridged unity making super human sacrifices along the way, some more than the others perhaps, nevertheless full heartedly partaken by all the Tribes without exception. Chapter I of Naga History therefore recorded the honourable years of innocence and supreme sacrifices with NNC/FGN in the forefront as a single United Naga House for the ultimate cause.
2. Then came the deluge…the infamous Shillong Accord of 1975. It is about time that the Nagas deal with this issue pragmatically and honestly by accepting the reality that this accord did get enacted on the ground. The argument that it was signed by “Representatives of Underground organization” without the mention of NNC/FGN does not nullify the fact that this agreement was now a reality, seriously considered and reviewed by NNC/FGN in an emergency meeting on the 29th November to December 1st 1975 and Clause 2 of the Accord was officially implemented. Clause 1 and 3 were officially forwarded to Mr. Phizo for his considered view. All these are raw facts of recorded history. Just so that the Nagas put to rest this controversial issue of the existence or nonexistence of this Accord, let us take a peek at what the Mr.I. Temjen, the sole surviving signatory of Shilling Accord, had to say on August 2013.He issued a declaration of rejection of this accord in these words (Quote) “It is now my responsibility to reaffirm the rejection of the Accord before it is too late so that the tragic legacy may not be passed on to the coming generation.” (Unquote). Now ask yourselves this question: what was the need to reject an Accord that they, the Accordists faction, claim did not exist? The Transit Peace Camp (TPC) was born out of Clause 2 of this Accord. Mr. I. Temjen made mention of TPC in this rejection statement of August 2013 as follows:(Quote) “Having clarified the rejection of Shillong Accord, I, I. Temjen further clarify that the Transit Peace Camp, Kohima which belongs to us and its utility cannot be questioned, however, as the same has created a lot of confusion and animosity among the Nagas, we, of our own volition vacate the Transit Peace Camp today for the unity and harmony of the Nagas” (Unquote). Yet on 14th March 2014, Mr. I.Temjen issued a press statement on “Shillong Accord 1975” in the local dallies from this very Transit Peace Camp that they were supposed to have vacated. Such inconsistency only erodes credibility. The desperate effort to exonerate the role of Mr. Phizo in this imbroglio was most unnecessary. No one accuses Mr. Phizo of personal involvement in the signing of this Accord. However history holds him accountable for his inability to condemn it. Therefore, rather than vitiate the atmosphere by trying to find excuses to absolve him, Nagas should learn to accept this human error forthrightly and move on without demeaning the stature of Mr. Phizo that rightly deserves acknowledgement. Despite the negative ramification of the Shillong Accord, the one positive reality that has often escaped evaluation of the Nagas is that at this critical juncture of History, the Naga National Movement was on the verge of being wiped out. The final remnants of the movement was holed out in the nooks and corners of Kohima District, with fluent communicate capability among themselves totally disrupted. All other Districts had fallen. Naga Peace Council brokered this disadvantageous Shillong Accord, which in the end bought crucial breathing space and time allowing the NNM to recuperate and regenerate its lost ground. To that extent it would not be wrong to concur Mr. Temjen’s view of a Divine intervention. Imagine the realistic emergent circumstance if Shillong Accord had not stemmed the tide of Indian Army operation …the end of NNM was an eminent possibility. They say all is fair in love and war. Mr. Phizo had every right to condemn this Accord in the aftermath as a document signed under duress instead of ignoring it as a non-issue. He failed to take stock of the critical cracks that had begun to appear within the ranks at home on account of this accord. His misjudgement of the ground reality was a monumental failure on his part for which there can be no justifiable excuse. The one thing that Nagas must accept is that Mr. Phizo too was a mortal like anyone else, susceptible to mistakes…and that his failure to condemn the Shillong Accord was a mortal disaster for the NNM. No amount of excuses can exonerate him of this default. Inspite of this, the iconic stature of Mr. Phizo cannot be reduced or denied in the pages of Naga History for his invaluable contribution towards defining our birthright and identity that the Nagas did not even have a serious inkling at that time. As things stand therefore, it is incumbent upon the NNC/FGN to right this wrong by condemning the Shillong Accord 1957 and most importantly disband the NNC Acordist faction and everything that is linked to this accord… like the TPC, and regroup as NNC/FGN as it once used to be. This is the only option in hand to salvage and reclaim the legitimacy of 1951 Plebiscite. Once this exercise is completed and achieved, NPGs could perhaps give it a serious rethink of coming back to the original fold under the banner of NNC/FGN with acceptable leadership endorsed by all the Factions. Nagas have lived under a democratic norm all these years and would find it awfully uncomfortable under a Chinese Socialistic pattern of governance. The all worrying question in everyone’s mind is this: Are the Nagas fighting for independence so as to lose our individual freedom? This could very well be the case if collective leadership and one party hierarchy system is to be the norm of governance. Would individual ownership of property be curtailed to the limits fixed by the Government of the day? With one party hierarchy, will democracy be stifled? There are hundreds of worrisome questions such as these lodged in the minds of the people without a clarity in the form of answers. Perhaps the simplest solution therefore is to conform to the original structure of NNC/FGN where the democratic spirit finds space to thrive and not be restricted. If not, NSCN should clearly specify its intention of governance to the people, should we finally find this elusive solution, to avoid any misgivings.
3. Nagas have consistently displayed an inaptitude for compounding problems rather than solving them in very many critical circumstances. When Mr. Phizo failed to condemn the Shillong Accord, the legitimate Government had an open-ended option to demand for his official clarification on this, failing which other alternative options should have been considered within the legitimate framework of the existing Government, rather than form another parallel Government. Whatever be the circumventing circumstances, this, as a matter of historical analysis, was another unfortunate blot in the Naga history that destroyed the momentum…and effectively introduced a crippling division within the NNM. The fact that Mr. Muivah had a plenipotentiary authority invested in him at that time should have counted for something…call for a National Assembly and forthrightly deal with the matter commensurate with the National survival…impeach Mr. Phizo as President of the NNC. The NNM then began its floundering course downhill with one unfortunate fragmentation after another making the original National charted course redundant. With so many undesirable factions…we now own a damning history that we ourselves have begun to see it with absolute revulsion. The NPGs must read the pulse of the people correctly or be damned…now or later. The people are clearly fed up with the current Mafia oppression of unbearable taxation for a make believe sovereignty… negotiation for which we know absolutely nothing about. Finding a realistic solution through such chaotic environment is unimaginable, least of all attainable. If National interest is truly a focused interest of the NPGs, it is incumbent upon each Factions to take a conscious stock of the irreparable damage that they have already inflicted against the NNM by their prioritised self-interest and ego and consider the reconstruction of a United Naga House from whence we all began. It is only then that the Nagas can hope for a fruitful closure of the final chapter of our Naga history.
The writer is a retired IAS Officer,
Forest colony, Kohima