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Op-Ed

Transition

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By EMN Updated: Feb 26, 2014 10:25 pm
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Khekiye K. Sema

NAGAS are going through a rough transitional period. The issue of unabated taxation has stirred up a lot of awkward but relevant subjects that have been bottled up for so long by the masses, unable to express themselves in fear. There has been a slow but steady increase in the voices of the people beginning to appear in the print media for a change and a trickle of responses from the NPGs however confused or negative. It is for the NNM leaders to understand and appreciate that 67 long years has gone by since the Nagas declared their independence, creating a generation gap between the old and the new in its wake. The older generation who had seen and suffered the worst of inhuman treatment meted out by the Indian Army are slowly but surely passing away. The new generation analyzes their circumstance by what they see as routine roadblocks being raised against their future wellbeing due to unreasonable taxation by the NPGs. It is more likely for those of us who have had the unpleasant experience of the 50s to understand the complexities of our situation and interact with frank thoughts and well intended suggestions but the same cannot be expected of the younger generations brought up under an entirely different environment. Given the provocation beyond their tolerance they could react without further restraints and create a situation that could alter the foundry of our existence. Such a time is bound to come eventually when patience and tolerance peters out. In a confused situation such as this, the need for clarity is of the essence. In order to revive a cohesively united community backing that it once enjoyed, it has become a paramount necessity for all the NPGs to explicitly explain their ‘National principle’ as has often been referred to. What is this National principle that each of the NPGs harp about? The only pathetic picture that the public sees day in day out is the unrestrained butchering of one another in the name of sovereignty and the tax turf that goes with it… the frequent defections of individual(s)/group(s) from one faction to the other for one flimsy ‘national’ reason or the another with a condemnation of the faction they had otherwise abandoned. This continuous defections and aftermath condemnations has left the public thoroughly confused as to who are the real group(s) and who is/are not. Is this all there is to national principle or is there something else? The masses deserves to unequivocally know the fundamental working principles which drive the NPGs in their separate ways! The time for blind following must come to an end…and the true national working group…identified.
The simplistic response that the NPGs are fighting for the Naga sovereignty no longer command the respect that it once had. The fear induced indifference, rampant amongst the Nagas, has thus far lulled the total populace to silence but the irrational irrelevance of being led with a suffocating blindfold must end and the stark naked questions, however uncomfortable, must be openly asked and openly be answered. For the past 67 years Nagas have been passively following the NNM without question but the circumstance are undergoing a drastic transformation. The time to define the ground realities is gradually and positively building up steam as it should. Our future is on the line and it is as much our right as is our responsibility to demand and to know what is being negotiated on our behalf. This is an imperative necessity. Unfortunately the Plebiscite of 1951,which lent potency and legitimacy to the Nagas, now lies locked away in the cold storage within the ruins of disunity. The oft repeated claim of public mandate being claimed by all the NPGs has begun to ring hollow. The only way to make the people truly believe that they have the public mandate is to explain how such a mandate was acquired. A mass gathering or consultation being conducted at one place or the other does not necessarily amount to a mandate of the Nagas as a whole in the magnitude of the 1951 Plebiscite. It still remains limited to a sectoral kitchen exercise. The very fact that NSCN(IM) is unable to disclose the terms of negotiation with the GoI, explains the critical lack of trust within the family of NPGs with their divergent perspectives and a complete loss of faith in the Naga populace who they claim to represent. What earth shaking justification can there be to warrant the fate of the majority being decided at the whims of a minority? It defiles every fibre of rationality…and yet the majority sleeps over it complacently. This unknown quantity has generated innumerable wild speculations which naturally are more negative in nature than positive. It is high time for the NPGs to clear the air. The only option that we perceive for transparency to effectively take roots is to have all the NPGs standing together as one body and discussing the pros and cons of the ongoing negotiation objectively and pragmatically…duly endorsed by the Naga populace as a whole. Once this strength is fostered and harnessed, the God given birthright of the Nagas’ claim for self-determination cannot be treated with such contempt and disdain by the GoI. If not for greed and ego factor the simple logic of gaining strength through unity should not be too hard to understand…but for the NPGs the simplest things seem to be the hardest to adopt. The personal inability to forgive and forget the past by the NPG leaders is crippling the future of the majority. Verbally invoking the name of Christ in everything does not necessarily mean a thing when our actions defile the name of Christ every step of the way. The unforgiving, unrepentant NPGs have not only managed to fragment their existence to insignificance with a complete focus on taxation but have effectively alienated and silenced the voice of the people without whose genuine blessings the movement will never gain the momentum required to create an impact. The imperative time to recreate this legitimate potential must be acknowledged. People are no longer prepared to take a ride into an unknown destination. Therefore the people of Nagaland expects each of the NPGs to clearly define their ‘National principle’ for a better understanding and appreciation of their ideology …and restore the willingness of the masses to bear the burden of taxation as a warranted act on their part. Without this enlightenment, the right to tax the people loses all relevance. The people cannot be expected to perpetually put their money into a bottomless pit called NNM without an end in sight. The nuisance of tax collection day in day out is the only visible activity of all the NPGs except for NSCN(IM) who are equally involved with taxation but have at least registered a semblance of negotiation going on with the GoI, but that too in total secrecy. God seems to have blessed the Nagas with an overdose of negative patience and indifference…imagine…67 years down the drain and still so silently oblivious to our suffocating, unjust surroundings.
Define the present reality carefully…how do you read into a situation where the total populace lives in fear of our own freedom fighters? Just think…we fear our own more than our adversary! It is obvious that something somewhere has terribly gone wrong. No matter what the constraints, the people ought to be standing solidly behind our national workers if their efforts were transparent and honourable. That, I would have assumed, should have been the normal acceptable reaction of the masses as was the case in the fifties when we were united as one people and the goal being fought for had an honourable appeal. It made the Government of India sit up and take cognizance of our existence, even as they fought us. That national honour has been obliterated to ignonymity replaced by extremely self-indulgent priorities. How can a people feel proud of our so-called freedom fighters when they have literally reduced themselves to a Mafia institutions, killing one another for control of their revenue turf in the guise of sovereignty and in the name of ‘Nagaland for Christ’… blasphemously? No amount of playacting can recreate a truth but truth itself and the Nagas must insist that the truth be shared with us if we are to seriously take issues forward in unison. With this many Factions, which one are we being expected to follow in terms of a genuine value based following? The NPGs should not deceive themselves by thinking that they have the public support based on tax being received because at this point in time the people have indifferently been reduced to a blind following of all the factions without a question bring raised…on the dictates of fear without reasoning. The Nagas must wake up to follow and support an issue that is upright and honestly in our interest and bravely reject those not in our interest. We ought to consciously be asking ourselves: what are we paying the tax to the NPGs for, year after rear…and they still have nothing concrete to write home about? What substantial achievement have they got to show us towards the final settlement of the vexed issue? Is Cease Fire and the repeated extension of it, being accounted for as an accomplishment? Beyond that…what? Sitting on the fence and do nothing else except extract tax from the public through threats? To the general public, Cease Fire is beginning to look more like a curse. We have divorced our reasoning faculty and have married fear…fear to the left of us, fear to the right of us, fear before us and fear behind us. We come home to curse each and every Faction from within the confines of our kitchen in a whisper. This is not helping the dreadful situation to improve other than worsen it. Therefore it is about time for the people to start asking each of the NPGs to clarify their stand and to give us the reason(s) as to why they want us follow them and pay tax to them. They should clarify why they are averse to a united front effort for the greater interest of the Nagas. The clarion call for “one tax, one Government” aptly explains the will of the people who NPGs claim to serve.
The exception has been the NNC Accordist group who have unequivocally made their stand against unity on grounds that they are the ultimate “Institution and Government” based on the mandate of 1951 Plebiscite. Dealing with a fool is less arduous than dealing with an intellectual fool. An honourable patriotic fool learns to accept the historical truth when facts are presented…but not the blind intellectual fool who stubbornly refuses to see the facts. All Nagas accept that the 1951 Plebiscite was a monumental achievement of NNC under the leadership of Mr. Phizo as its President, that laid the foundry of Naga legitimacy for self-determination. That Shillong Accord 1975 threatened this legitimacy is beyond dispute. The existence of a Faction under the nomenclature of NNC “ACCORDIST” in the NNM says it all without the need for further explanation even to a fool. It is the hypocritically patriotic, blind intellectual fools who need to perceive that this faction is responsible for still upholding the attempted act of sticking up the 1951Plebiscite on a pole along with a white flag with Shillong Accord written all over it…otherwise why call themselves NNC “ACCORDISTS” in the first place? ACCORDISTS in simple English terminology are those who condone the accord. Clause No.2 of the Shillong Accord gave birth to Transit Peace Camps that once was funded by the GoI for sure…and perhaps still is, who knows. The inmates of these camps shamelessly threaten those who wave these historical facts at their faces, backed by the intellectual fools who profess patriotism without really knowing the meaning of it. It would be a tremendous help to the people of Nagaland if the NNC Accordists respond to all the dubbed “wild allegation” questions that were raised when this writer had responded to the caution notice served to him, without taking assistance from the intellectual blind loyalists. This would serve their interest, if they desire to legitimatise their status as they claim… without misinterpreting and distorting history which will not help their cause in any which way.
As the saying goes “you can fool some people sometime but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. The people now want honest answers first, if NPGs want the support of the people, (NNC Accordist included). Why lead the Nagas down the road of damnation and self destruction?… Instead usher in a positive transition.

The writer is retired IAS officer, Forest Colony, Kohima; Nagaland.

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By EMN Updated: Feb 26, 2014 10:25:25 pm