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Op-Ed

When will we ever learn?

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By EMN Updated: Feb 22, 2016 12:26 am
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Khekiye K. Sema

The Good Lord gave every living creature on planet earth a unique gift called brains. Above all His creation He further gave mankind the supreme ability and liberty to think positively or negatively; constructively or destructively. In order to help and guide mankind to maintain a decent equilibrium between good and bad He also blessed us with the Good Book called the Bible. As professed Christians, the burden of God’s curse on Naga generations has comparatively multiplied because the leaders knowingly choose to act with greed, ego and self-perpetuation as their guiding principle clearly aware that this negative nature will lead the people down the bottomless abyss but do it anyway. The common man must share equal responsibility of this downfall along with our so-called leaders because we too irresponsibly elected/selected or allowed them to become our leaders by carelessly compromising our franchise for money. If we care to dispassionately review our journey for self-determination it would dawn on us that God has invariably been withdrawing His wisdom from our leaders at every critical juncture of history causing confusion and self-destruction instead. The classical inability to condemn Shillong Accord of 1975 for instance, is one such glaring example that broke the political backbone of the Naga National Movement (NNM) with a disastrous result of a divided weakened house that fought against each other rather than their common enemy. While God cursed the Israelites for their iniquities by making them roam the wilderness for forty years before reaching their promised land, the Nagas have already done our wilderness for more than sixty years with no real end in sight still. Do we honestly recognise our curse? Today we are at a threshold of yet another epic historical moment that will decide the fate of Naga destiny. Our leaders have a choice to exercise God given wisdom with humility sans personal self-perpetuating ego or do so with complete arrogance. It is our collective prayer that God will help them to choose the former and release us from His curse.Now getting back to our ground reality… all our local dailies carried a news item of what Madam Sonia Gandhi, Congress President said to the Joint Legislative Forum (JLF) on February 20. 2016 at New Delhi: (quote) “We are not privy to the contents of the Naga peace accord and we cannot give a blank cheque of support as of now” but that her party was prepared to support the Naga peace accord only “if the contents of agreement were in the interest of the Nagas, Northeast and the Nation” (unquote). Read that again very carefully…under the given circumstance this is a well disguised hollow assurance without assurance because she does not know the contents of the agreement. That insignificant looking little word “if” is a two edged sword. Yes we can believe that NSCN (IM) will surely have the interest of the Nagas at heart but what if the agreement contained issues that would negatively impact on the other North Eastern States and the Nation from their point of view? If so, it also necessarily means her party’s support for the Naga accord would not be forthcoming.
On the surface, the effort of JLF to create political awareness about the Naga peace accord in the mainland is not necessarily a misplaced mission. However, the bottom-line question here is: “what awareness are they trying to create when they do not know anything about the contents of this agreement”? Simply asking the GoI to speed up the peace process is stupidity personified without knowing a thing about the ongoing process. The whole exercise in real terms can only ends up being a Shakespearean comedy of ‘much ado about nothing’. Our present priority is to decidedly make an effort to know the contents of what is in that agreement so that we can exercise our wisdom either ways. No one in their right senses would blindly support something that one has no knowledge about. Madam Sonia Gandhi has made this amply clear. Is it still so difficult for the Nagas to comprehend these simple basics?
Let us now honestly assess other realities without bias. We are talking about a ‘negotiated settlement’ which would necessarily involve an element of give and take. It would normally imply that Nagas will not get everything we want. This is quite apparent. Given the non-transparent nature of the framework agreement the Nagas should be prepared to anticipate anything short of our original expectations to transpire from this. It is precisely because of this uncertain factor that all NPGs need to be brought on board so that whatever settlement is arrived at has a collective endorsement of all the stakeholders. This will effectively eliminate the excuse for any NPG faction to want to continue the struggle and carry on exacting their backbreaking ‘sovereignty tax’ from the already overburdened masses. It is in the interest of the Nagas to have all NPG factions legitimately and officially brought on board at the negotiating table to avoid another bloodbath in the aftermath. Therefore JLF should instead be placing its prioritised focus to achieve this end first and only then carry out their mainland awareness campaign thereafter. Why do Nagas always choose to place the cart before the horse?
On the other hand, it is hardly the opportune moment in history for NSCN (IM) to be going on an arrogant ego picnic. It is a common knowledge that all NPGs including the NSCN (IM) have committed political, social and economic atrocities in equal measure against the people in course of this long journey for emancipation. Self-righteously pointing fingers and damning others is downright hypocritical and server no one’s interest. It is equally distasteful to be flying “Nagaland for Christ” flag when we deliberately harbour unforgiving and persecuting attitudes in our actions far removed from true Christian principles. The stubborn glory-hunting urge of NSCN (IM) wanting to go it alone can only usher in another disastrous consequence of a civil war amongst the Nagas. God is withdrawing His wisdom from our leaders once more. When will we ever learn?
Somewhere at the back of NSCN (IM)’s mind there seems to be a dangerous lingering calculation that if they succeed in taking the reins of Government after the negotiated settlement with GoI, they can officially declare all the other NPGs as anti-national elements and hunt them down one by one with the newly recruited NSCN (IM) cadre Army under a facade of legitimacy. Similarly the indifference of GoI towards other factions seems to stem from the comfort of their probable deduction that most of the other NPGs are their own creation in the first place and therefore has the leverage to compromise them with money even without officially acknowledging them at the negotiating table. All may not necessarily fall within that category. Should some of them stand their ground and want to continue the struggle it can only lead to a compulsive ‘wipe out’ option. Nagas will be turning the hands of the clock back to head-hunting our own kind and this time it will not be the Indian Army doing the dirty job. We the civilians will helplessly be caught in the middle of this crossfire all over again. Such is the damning scenario awaiting the Nagas in the aftermath of NSCN (IM)’s solo negotiated settlement if it is short of full sovereignty.
In the backdrop of a rather dark overcast horizon of uncompromising arrogance of NSCN (IM) the only silver lining is the news of the formation of a Working Committee of NNC/FGN attempting to get their house in order and to try a reconciliation effort with the other factions. Once the cancer of Shillong Accord is formally operated and removed by a United National Parliament other awkward jigsaw puzzles ought to conveniently fall in place. On a personal note one has absolutely nothing but respect for Madam Adino representing the elder generation who have sacrificed so much for the Nagas. However, on the issue of the present political logjam within the NNM, the unbiased view being held is that Madam Adino has two possible action options: (a) Clear the Naga National Movement (NNM) roadblock by gracefully retiring herself and the NNC (Accordist) tsunami from the Naga National scene; or (b) officially and unambiguously condemn the Shillong Accord and reconstruct the NNC/FGN House back to its former glory if she believes she is a true Nationalist. Even a child can see that an undivided NNC/FGN cannot happen as long as she remains President NNC (Accordist) faction. She unfortunately is the destabilising roadblock that must give way if the Nagas are to forge ahead together. This is the supreme sacrifice she is expected to undertake for the greater good of the Nagas. We must try to perceive and believe in ourselves that if all NPGs of Nagas of Nagaland are united under one banner…the GoI and NSCN (IM) will have less choice but to sit up and acknowledge the original historical base that began the NNM in the first place. Then Nagas of Nagaland can have their rightful say in the final settlement that is otherwise being denied to them as of now. The important thing to understand is the urgency of time factor which is in short supply against the fast developing tide. May The Good Lord grant our leaders the wisdom and the courage to do the right thing this time … Amen.

The writer is IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima;
(E-mail ID: kksema@gmail.com)

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By EMN Updated: Feb 22, 2016 12:26:43 am