The relentless ticking time (Part III)
Khekiye K. Sema
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t just seems like yesterday when the year 2014 was ushered in. A lot of sincere, well intended thoughts have been shared in the print media concerning the plight of the Naga Political Journey during the long course of the year. In it all, the one unmistakable voice of the masses that has emerged is the desperate cry for all the NPGs to UNITE and put an end to this miserable greed dictated, out of control ‘multiple taxation/extortion’ in the name of sovereignty and tackle the real issue at hand as one united force. The relentless time keeps ticking on and with it, this voice is steadily gaining momentum…albeit without much perceptible change of attitude amongst the NPGs in response. It is about time that our NPGs start listening and read the writings on the wall carefully. The responsible NGOs (that pointedly include the Churches) and the intellectual populace of Nagaland too have fearfully preferred to cautiously hedge around the podium of truth rather than dare stepping on to the platform of truth itself. Before the year 2014 passes us by therefore, let the final candid, founded speculative thoughts unfold for what it is worth.Late Scato Swu, former President of the Federal Government of Nagaland, has recounted his experience during the bloodiest chapter of the Naga History in his book titled “Hails and Blames”. It is presumed that for those Nagas who have been following the Naga Political Movement closely, would have read Chapter 8 of this book specifically dedicated to our Southern Brothers…”The Tangkhuls”. In the interest of those who have not read the account from the horses’ mouth, the uncensored chapter in question is being reproduced (Quote): “The Tangkhuls did not physically join the Naga Freedom movement in the early stages. As early as 1962 few people like Lt. Punutha, Company Commander of Saposhu area, Raju Peyu Ongso and other two Khapurs were appointed for the same area. Ngayan Tatar of Haimi village and Lungshi an elder of Hondung village were the first Tangkhuls who served the Federal Government of Nagaland. In 1962, from Sati camp, I (President, FGN) sent Captain Vighoto Swu along with one section of Naga Army personnel to enrol Tangkhul volunteers into Naga Army. Accordingly, Captain Vighoto Swu entered into 52 villages of East Tangkhul area in between Kuchangpong village and Senakathel village, who were awakened to Naga Independence movement. One Tangkhul gentlemen told Captain Vighoto that they had no political consciousness despite having 264 graduates at that moment and he wished the Federal Authorities to be informed of the fact. The 52 villages agreed to raise Re 1/- per house for Naga Army ration. At the time, like any other villages, Government of India employed CID workers in all Tangkhul villages, who reported on the movement of Naga Federal workers. Under the Tangkhul CID guide, the Indian Army killed two Naga Army Personnel, namely Tukukha and Vighoto, both from Alatomi village, and Sergeant Nikhaje of Shoipu village was arrested at Chingai forest. Tatar Ngayan was also arrested before his Tatar-ship was approved by the Federal Authorities. Captain Vighoto and his troops suffered starvation for 14 days from 5 May to May19, 1962, as they were surrounded by the enemies and the villagers dared not to meet them.
Th. Muivah, Z.Ramyo, S. Angam and Chongsen joined the FGN in 1965 only after the ceasefire of 1964. “Where were we when Nagas were fighting in fortitude for sovereignty?” said Muivah regretfully. Gradually the late comers joined our movement. I am happy that Th. Muivah leads NSCN (IM).” (Unquote).
This author would like to stress the reason for quoting the authentic rendition of Ino Scato Swu, a Naga National stalwart amongst the National Leaders in their historic times, not with a malicious Tribalistic intent, repeat: not with a malicious intent, but to instil a sense of HUMILITY in the perception of our Southern Brothers while dealing with the Naga Political Issues. History abundantly records with definitive clarity that our Southern Tangkhul brothers had absolutely no political comprehension or consciousness when the Naga Independence Movement had begun in Nagaland. Consequentially therefore, ‘their’ true respect and appreciation for the kind of excruciating pain and cruelty suffered by the Nagas of Nagaland during these brutal years can only be defined at best as a lip service acknowledgement. When thousands upon thousands of Naga families of Nagaland had had to make supreme sacrifices, shedding bitter tears at the loss of their dear martyred sons yet replacing the loss with another son if they had one more, for the cause that they wholeheartedly believed in; These are scenarios, the magnitude of which ‘they’ will have less comprehension about…the extremely heart wrenching pain of the Nagas of Nagaland having watched their wives, their sisters and their daughters being raped and shamed before their very eyes and our simple men folks being brutalised and murdered as a matter of routine in the hands of the ruthless aggressors to weaken the Nagas’ resolve for freedom. The Nagas of that generation courageously DARED all odds unlike today. When all these extreme inhuman suffering were being borne by the Nagas of Nagaland, our Southern Brothers were oblivious to it all. When the Nagas of Nagaland were not even able to complete counting all the fingers of a hand to assess Graduates in our land, it makes one wonder what prevailed in the ‘gray matters’ of our Southern Naga brothers with over 264 Tangkhul graduates floating around the countryside totally oblivious to what was going on in Nagaland. That a special task force was deployed in an effort to spread awareness and welcome Tangkhul volunteers to join the Naga National Movement explains the acceptance of the Tangkhuks as brothers by the Nagas of Nagaland. They must learn not to spit on this welcome that was and is sincerely being intended and extended. The monumental lack of consciousness and indifference within their fold at that time ought to have had a humbling impact in their very psyche at the present times. That the whole effort culminated in a cowardly betrayal, slaughter and starvation of the ‘Naga Independence awareness campaigners’ instead in the hands of the enemy, lead by Tangkhul CIDs as described by the Ino Scato Swu, should have helped reduce the cold ruthlessness within their cadre in the present times. Such a history ought to have necessarily tempered the level of arrogance and stubbornness in the present generation Tangkhuls at the helms of affairs on an extremely important issue such as the unification of the Factions… and not be the stumbling block. It is a common undeniable knowledge that the Tangkhul brothers have now taken over the entire Naga National Movement within the NSCN (IM) setup. The ‘presence’ of other Naga Tribes within this Faction no doubt is an acknowledged fact … even if they are but a mere window dressing. All critical policy decisions are being dictated by Mr. Th. Muivah the Ato Kilonser and the top heavy echelon of Tangkhuls within the hierarchy under the pretentious “Collective Leadership”. No amount of explanation can erase this factual reality.
This brings us to the core issues that the people of Nagaland find it difficult to understand or swallow: 1. The Nagas rejoiced with great expectation when all Factions had shown their willingness to unite [including NSCN (IM)] by signing: (a) The Naga Concordant Agreement and (b) The Landen Agreement through the tireless efforts of FNR. The people were crestfallen when the NSCN (IM) backtracked on these agreements by citing “National Principle” as a reason. Since then the people of Nagaland have been raising questions as to what this “National Principle” is all about… without their response to clear the minds of the people. Taking into consideration that the GoI has made it amply clear that the subject of “sovereignty” and “integration” are not negotiable and the fact that the NSCN (IM) has resigned itself to acceptance of it should then necessarily nullify the tall claims to “National Principle”. Once the issue of “Sovereignty” is compromised, there is no distinction between NSCN (IM) and the other Factions who have agreed to “the rule of law of the land” in their ceasefire agreement. Pointing a figure at them on that score would amount to a meaningless hypocrisy.
2. The unpalatable absurdity of the fate of the majority being decided by the AK 47 totting minority is in total violation of natural justice and human rights. The people as stakeholders have an inherent right to be consulted and be taken into confidence on issues that would impact their future: BEFORE and not AFTER the settlement is arrived at. This total lack of transparency on the part of NSCN (IM) in the on-going negotiation with the GoI is unacceptable by any yardsticks.
3. According to the street talks, the present negotiation with the GoI is being conducted by a full entourage of Tangkhuls only with Mr. Isac Swu being the sole non-Tangkhul spectator. Be that as it may, the Tangkhul brothers must believe in the bigness of heart of the Nagas of Nagaland. They would surely acknowledge that such a negotiation would greatly be reliant on brainwork and would thank the Tangkhuls for shouldering this difficult task. Nevertheless, the fact that they were “late comers”, joining the Political Movement only after the 1964 ceasefire when the clouds of critical danger had passed; where they did not have to make sacrifices equal to the average Naga household of Nagaland, but is now in the driving seat is a reality that cannot be taken for granted casually. Even at this juncture however, being in the driving seat is not being brought to question but deciding the fate of the Nagas of Nagaland in SECRET is not an easy pill to be swallowed even amongst the open-minded best of the Nagas. What needs to be registered here is the fact that the Nagas are a highly sensitive Tribal race seriously conscious of representation in any worthy forum. This is one such critical forum concerning our future. A balanced representation is a must, essential and necessary. The NSCN (IM) would do well to clarify the factual status on this. Maintaining a stoic silence, against all the speculations thrown up as they have been doing so far, would not be in their interest. In fact having an open debate with the Civil Societies and responsible Senior citizens of Nagaland for all the speculation thrown up against them thus far, is what NSCN (IM) should be proposing if they have the truth behind them and the guts to do so without AK 47. Can they accept such a challange?!!!!
4. Further, there is a growing speculative perception that the Tangkhul’s claim for a separate “Alternative Autonomous Administrative Status” in Manipur becoming the stumbling block in the final solution for the Nagas of Nagaland is gaining ground; That the inability on the part of NSCN (IM) to transparently declare the agenda of negotiation with the GoI is being linked to this subject for which everything is being kept under a tight wraps; This is the general belief doing the round. The NSCN (IM) would do well to clarify the factual status on this as well and arrest speculation from growing.
The ticking time is now drawing us closer to bid adieu to 2014 even as we open our doors to welcome 2015. The bottom-line message to NSCN (IM) for the year 2015 is this: Take the Nagas of Nagaland into respectful confidence in the truest sense no matter what the circumstances. Take the honourable initiative to unite the Factions and believe that the Nagas of Nagaland will understand the “intricate” problems sympathetically. This could be the New Year’s gift that all Nagas of Nagaland would pray for and looking forward to.
May The Good Lord bestow a very blessed and rewarding Happy New Year for all!
The writer is, IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima