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Op-Ed

The relentless ticking time (Part II)

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By EMN Updated: Nov 27, 2014 10:58 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first part of the article in the header was carried by the local dallies on 24th October 2014. It surprisingly provoked no response from the NSCN (IM) though the subject was directly related to them. Their silence has thus kept the issue alive, prompting further speculations. Now let us add the following speculations as well.
Especially when the serious business of Winter Session of Parliament is in progress, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, deciding to make his maiden visit to Nagaland at this pressing time to inaugurate a lesser priority Hornbill Festival and to perhaps announce a financial relief package for the saturated State of Nagaland still appear to be an acceptable camouflage up front. What may lie underneath is a matter of speculation. That his travel itinerary is inclusive of Manipur is significant for the fact that the Naga solution is inextricably linked with this State in view of our Southern Tangkhul brothers who would have no legitimate space within the present State of Nagaland sans integration…no matter what their sacrifices. Though Mr. Modi would probably be aware that an approximate amount of 24% of this ‘packaged’ fund would land up in the coffers of the NPGs in one form or the other, directly or indirectly, (considering the present mindboggling system of multiple taxation that is in place right under the very nose of a compliant ineffective State Government), it would amount to a small sacrifice that he would be prepared to make for the greater effort of understanding the lay of the land first hand, should he consider this economic package. One is also mindful of the fact that the Prime Minister has still not granted NSCN (IM) a time slot for them to even pay a curtsey call on him. It can only point towards a cold, calculated hard-line strategy being contemplated to address the Naga National Movement (NNM) towards a decisive conclusion. Of all the Countries in the world, his prioritised state visit to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar had nothing to do with Tourism for sure. His intelligence feedback would have confirmed these stations as the favourite haunts for all the insurgent groups of the North East. A friendly neighbour would eliminate this discomfort for India… thus the visits. Mr. Modi has been hard at work with a definitive focus. On the other hand the Hon’ble Governor of Nagaland striking the Konyak brass bell from his corner that the final solution would be at hand within six months period is not just another inconsequential speculation of a street boy.
Putting all these scenarios into perspective, there is a likely indication that the Hon’ble Prime Minister has a serious undercurrent intention of satisfying himself of the ground realities first hand before delivering his final coup de grace on the issue of NNM within a certain time frame…weather the Nagas like it or not. With a stable, strong and loyal Central Government behind him, everything else fits the frame snugly. The sad picture in it all is the fact that the GoI, from the very inception of Independence, has shown scant human respect for the Nagas as a people, which resulted in a catastrophic miscalculation and loss of precious human lives from both sides of the fence. It is inconceivable that the Prime Minister of India, however determined and well meaning he may be, would get to appreciate or understand the inner core aspiration of the Nagas ‘Christians’ in a fleeting moment of his visit. The Nagas may not necessarily sum up academically in comparison to the University graduates of the Mainland in their eyes, but they need to understand that the Nagas have been groomed and hardened by no less a teacher than nature itself concerning life and the honour of living with dignity. Yet undermining the Naga intellect comes naturally to them as has well and truly been exemplified by the former first Prime Minister of India, Pundit J. Nehru, by his bilaterally defining the International watershed boundary between India and Myanmar without a modicum of respect that human beings called the Nagas existed in this part of the wilderness whose views were inalienably necessary. This did not happen. The consequence was Lungwa, a Konyak Village in the border, becoming a living example of this cold-hearted dispensation… being dissected in half between India and Myanmar. One therefore has a premonition of hard times ahead for the Nagas, politically.
Having said this, the Governor of Nagaland has made it amply clear that the time has come for the State Government and the Civil Societies “to speak out on what kind of solution they wanted” (23rd November 2014 local paper publication) to supplement the ongoing peace talk. This makes good sense. Other than to continue having nightmare of AK 47, the State Government has not woken up to assess the realities around them and act assertively. The GoI has made it clear that the issues of “Sovereignty” and “Integration” shall not be placed on the negotiating table no matter how much they may proclaim the “uniqueness” of our Naga history. The NSCN (IM) too seems to have resigned itself into acknowledging this fact by publically expressing the same at the consultative public meeting at the Agri-Expo venue in February 2012. If “Sovereignty” and “Integration” is not negotiable, then what is the NSCN (IM) negotiating about? This is an elementary question doing the rounds. If this be the case, the total complexion of the NNM shifts to an entirely different plane in which, minus the issues of “Sovereignty”, the State Government derives every legitimacy to play an important role towards a final solution by taking the people into confidence as is being suggested by the Governor. The irrational stance being taken by the NSCN (IM) in keeping the stakeholders in the dark is against all norms of natural justice. Consider this very carefully…How can a handful of AK 47 wielding minority decide the destiny of the majority without a consultation with the people on the agenda of negotiation?!
The damning cowardly silence of the majority has escalated the roughshod contempt for the common man by the “Collective Leadership” thus far. The prophetic words of Edmund Burk that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” ring so true to our circumstance today. This must come to an end through a transparent civilised discourse minus AK 47. The Nagas are being marooned in an island that time has forgotten, leaving us far behind all our fellow beings elsewhere around the globe. It would therefore appear to be a ripe moment for all thinking Nagas to come together and open a new candid chapter of Naga’s appraisal for their future.
The very disappointing focal issue is the hardhearted stubbornness of the Leaders of the NSCN (IM) who would loudly profess “Nagaland for Christ” where forgiveness and reconciliation has no place. Their self-righteous ‘National Principle’ sounds equally hollow and compromised in the face of “sovereignty” and “integration” being generally accepted as an issue beyond negotiation, even by them. Then why point a figure at other Factions for similar commission and fail to consider forgiving one another and uniting? As long as they continue to believe that they are the sole custodian of the NNM with a public mandate behind them, which is certainly not the whole truth, the issue of unity of all NPGs will not occur to them as a viable option as speculated in the previous article. Their overwhelming egocentric desire to be seen as the sole subject standing on the Naga political podium is derailing all sensibility. Unless the Collective Leadership is totally blind they ought to be aware that most of the NPGs are raising almost the same amount of multiple taxes, buying arms and continuously recruiting and strengthening their cadres as a matter of routine. Undermining the rest as non-entities would be a costly mistake. If solution is brought by the NSCN (IM) minus “sovereignty” and “integration” Nagaland will plunge into another Civil War. Their “Red Book Communistic Socialism” theory of governance with “Collective Leadership and one party Hierarchy” system would add fuel to the fire. This is a foregone scenario that is apprehensively being envisaged. A whole generation has perished for a cause and Nagas can ill afford another generation being wiped out by a civil war within ourselves, all over again. We must find an imperative via media…which lies in unity of all the NPGs for better or for worse to achieve lasting peace in our land. The FNR and ACAUT movement has come to existence with this objective of unity in mind.
The days of arms confrontation is done. It is therefore, equally important for the GoI to mend its questionable ways. Stop playing games with the Naga people with their ‘divide and rule policy’ that they have spawned over the years. It is comprehensively outdated against the present crisis. Instead they must now forge a unity of all the NPGs so that a truly lasting honourable solution can be achieved. They must do their utmost to convince the NSCN (IM) towards this end, failing which the GoI should logically open an official or unofficial line of communication with the rest of the NPGs to assess the intensity of all the other NPGs and find a moderated road that all of them can travel together at the end of it. The erstwhile agreement of the GoI in not negotiating with the other Factions other than NSCN (IM) is now redundant. It is difficult to perceive the rational of a negotiated settlement that would stand the test of time with thorns still firmly imbedded in one’s flesh. The spineless State Government must also shed its indifference on this subject and mobilise public opinion and clearly determine the will of the masses. However powerful, no power will be able to withstand the final verdict of the people. It is within their purview to raise every village in Nagaland to address simply crafted agendas for their internal debate first, and then have a conference of all the Village Councils to affirm their decision as to whether Nagas should continue on the same road or look at an alternative path. The Naga Hoho too would have been ideally situated to assist the State Government to spearhead an issue such as this if not for the fact that the Naga Hoho is floating around in the pockets of one NPG group or the other… in the process becoming a deadwood organisation that commands no respect. One however believes that once the endorsement of all the Village Councils is obtained, solution will surely find a conclusive direction. Meanwhile India must also realise that it is not making this task any easier by all the racist indulgences being flagrantly displayed of late against the North Easterners. Not wanting to keep company with those who shows racist hatred towards another is a natural sentiment common to all mankind….Nagas are no exception.
Beyond this however, the Nagas ought to have surely realised by now… the years of unproductive lives we have led thus far. It is a sincere belief that the Nagas have reached a deserving point in time to lead a wholesome life without the fear of AK 47, provided we stand together and decide together once for all…with courage. The relentless ticking time waits for no man. Remember the saying “God helps those who help themselves”? Well, it is about time we learn to help ourselves in order for God to help us all.

Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Nov 27, 2014 10:58:20 pm