Voices from Nagaland
At the 12th National Convention of National Alliances of Peoples Movement held at Doodwawala Dharamsala, Grand Road, Puri, Odisha, from the 23rd to 25th of November, 2019.
Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights.
“Whether heaven falls and the rivers run red with blood, I will not allow Nagas to be independent” said the First Prime Minister of India, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Indian Parliament, and went on to say; “I will station one Indian soldier for every tree in Nagaland and I will crush the Nagas within one week”.
After 15 years of trying to crush the Naga political movement without much success, India entered into the first Ceasefire Agreement with the Federal Government of Nagaland in September 1964. However, this first Ceasefire was unilaterally abrogated by the Government of India in 1972 after 8 years of failed negotiations. And Nagaland State was brought under the ministry of Home Affairs from the Ministry of External Affairs.
Again after another more than 30 years of military occupation and its inability to crush the Naga political movement, another Prime Minister of India, Mr. Morarji Desai, went to London and met the President of the Naga National Council, Mr. A.Z. Phizo and said; “I will exterminate all the Nagas without any compunction”. He then came to Kohima after that and told the same thing to a delegation of the Naga Students’ Federation at Kohima; ”I will exterminate all the Nagas without any compunction”.
After 20 years of this statement, some of India’s top Generals who led the military operations against the Nagas for decades admitted; “Military solution is not possible”.
This led to the signing of the second Ceasefire in 1997 between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (IM), with Political talks that have continued for the last more than 22 years without “any logical conclusion” yet.
With or without Peace or Ceasefires, It is now more than 72 years that the Naga political movement has continued as one of the longest surviving political conflict in Asia, leave alone, India’s declaration to crush the Nagas within 7 days or to exterminate all Nagas without any compunction.
During the first period of ceasefire and political negotiation, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, offered the Nagas; “to take anything under the sun except “Sovereignty”. Nagas responded that they will not take anything from India except to retain their Sovereignty.
During the last 22 years of political negotiations, the Government of India appointed “Interlocutors” to negotiate with the Nagas for a final political settlement with the Nagas. However;
– The first Interlocutor who was appointed in 1997, Mr. Swaraj Kaushal, who succeeded in the signing and implementation of the Mizoram Accord, was removed after he openly admitted that “Nagas have every right to be independent”.
– The Second Interlocutor, Mr. Padmanabiah, after more than 10 years of negotiation also admitted that; “Nagas are right” and he was again removed.
– The Third Interlocutor, Mr. R.S. Pandey, who served in Nagaland as a bureaucrat for more than 30 years, resigned in 2014, perhaps pre-empting an unceremonious removal, but imbedded the idea of a “shared sovereignty”.
– The Fourth interlocutor, Mr. R.N. Ravi has managed to sign the “3rd August 2015, Framework Agreement” but which have not been implemented so far much to the discredit of the Government of India’s insincerity with the Interlocutor going back on his words time and time again, and the most recent re-interpretation on the words and contents on some of the vital points of the Framework Agreement.
Nevertheless, after the signing of the “Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015”, the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, who is again the present Prime Minister, went on to say ; “I have the deepest admiration for the great Naga people for their extraordinary support to peace effort”. He even went international and said to the Indian Diaspora in Dubai that he has signed Peace Accord with the Nagas.
Ironically, Mr. R. N. Ravi, the Interlocutor was again appointed as Governor of Nagaland on the 20th of July 2019, with dual responsibilities as a Governor as well as the Interlocutor. On assuming his Governorship, he came to Nagaland and said; “I have come to make Nagaland a normal state”. He then announced, “Before my appointment as Nagaland Governor, the PM had expressed the need to conclude the peace process within three months time…that is a long enough time because we have been talking and negotiating for the last 22 years” and said that October 31st 2019 will be the deadline for settlement of the Naga Peace talks. This statement came just in the backdrop of scrapping Article 370 of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
What happened after that is anybody’s guess. But the fact is, a very panicky situation was created not only for the Nagas but also for all people of North East India, who were closely following the Naga Peace Talks. And after witnessing what happened to Jammu and Kashmir, the suspicions and apprehensions were naturally not good at all. Many Nagas were also caught on the wrong foot and there were all kinds of mixed reactions. Mr. R.N. Ravi, the Interlocutor and the Governor designate also started behaving very arrogantly and became malicious towards the end part of the deadline in October and suggested “take it or leave it” kind of offer without a separate Naga National Flag and Constitution. But leaders of the Naga Peace Talks were neither intimidated nor deterred. They just stood their ground in a manner they know best for all of their lives and never to surrender to an imposed solution at the cost of our people’s history and future generations. Ultimately, on the 31st of October 2019, a major breakthrough was made with the imposition of the deadline relegated to the past.
Over the last few weeks, negotiations over some of the unsettled competencies have resumed. Time will only tell what kind of conclusions will be arrived at. But whatever the case may be, Nagas are clear that until and unless due recognition and acknowledgement of our identity based on the “unique history and situation” is honored, to which the Government of India has also admitted and acknowledged in writing and signed on 11th July 2002, and re-iterated on the 3rd August 2015 – Framework Agreement, it will be futile to imagine a workable solution. Nevertheless, we are also envisioning that since we all have learnt lessons from past mistakes we should not repeat those failed experiences and embark on new and meaningful engagements through mutual respects and understandings.
Thank You and Kuknalim!