Interview by Oken Jeet Sandham with Adino Phizo

NNC warns India from entering into any pact with NSCN (IM) on Naga problem
By: Oken Jeet Sandham

(Adino Phizo, President of the NNC and daughter of legendary Naga freedom fighter AZ Phizo, from her London Office answered questions asked by Oken Jeet Sandham, Journalist from North East India)

Although two-day Delhi peace talks between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) concluded with positive note by touching some of the substantive issues to pave the way for solving the protracted Naga political problem, the Naga National Council (NNC), the oldest Naga political organization that spearheaded for Naga political movement in mid 40s has strongly cautioned Indian authorities from entering into any agreement or treaty with the so-called National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM).

Any move by the Center (Government of India) to impose on Nagaland a stage-managed political settlement will be a retrogressive step unlikely to enhance the international image of the BJP Government, Adino Phizo, President of the NNC and daughter of legendary Naga freedom fighter AZ Phizo, from her London Office answered to questions asked by Oken Jeet Sandham, Journalist from North East India.

The 71 years old NNC supreme explained that by negotiating the peace process with the outfit (NSCN-IM) that carry no mandate of representing Nagaland, has exposed their (Indian leaders) disdain to address the fundamental cause of the five decades of conflict between Nagaland and India.

Adino also said India had never been shy of undermining the NNC authority and the FGN and further expressed surprise on India’s failure to learn about the Nagas especially that President of the NNC is entrusted with exclusive executive independence.

Therefore, without NNC endorsement, no agreement or treaty can become valid, she said.

The followings are the excerpts from the interview:

Oken Jeet Sandham: What is your comment on the ongoing talks between the Indian Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah of the NSCN (IM) in New Delhi?

Adino Phizo: The ongoing stage-managed talks between the Indian Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah of the so-called NSCN (IM) in New Delhi, is utterly bizarre and an insult to the intelligence of the Naga people. The Government of India has no excuse to pretend it is negotiating a peace process when the outfit (NSCN-IM)invited for talks in New Delhi as it (NSCN-IM) carries no mandate of representing Nagaland. It once again exposes Indian leaders disdain to address the fundamental cause of the five decades conflict between Nagaland and India.

Oken Jeet Sandham: The Government of India seems to be giving more emphasis on the NSCN (IM) for settlement of Naga political problem. What do you say on that?

Adino Phizo: Following an abortive attempted coup d’etat to overthrow the democratically elected Federal Government of Nagaland, Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah gained notoriety for the massacre of national leaders and patriots in 1979/80. From the beginning their sole objective was to seize power and impose a neo-Marxist style dictatorial rule over Nagaland. The two self-proclaimed leaders with their mainly Tangkhul henchmen from Ukhrul district in Manipur, India, have since killed over 2000 Naga civilians and many people in neighboring territories in the name of “Nagaland for Christ”. Every Naga know that without logistic support given by the Indian army, for instance, safe haven in “designated areas” under Indian army protection, rations, communication facilities, and transport, the so-called NSCN (IM) terrorist outfit cannot operate in Nagaland.

Nagaland national establishment, the Naga National Council (NNC) and the Federal Government of Nagaland, have thwarted Indian government attempt to annex the country in the past. So in spite of the current blatant provocation by India, Naga democracy will overcome Indian bluff and come out even stronger.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Does Isak and Muivahs coming to Delhi on Indian Passport indicate that they are indirectly accepting solution within the framework of Indian Constitution?

Adino Phizo: In the affairs of Nagaland, Isak and Muivah have no political standing whatsoever and are irrelevant. Neither is privy to Naga democratic decision process. They tried to seize power by criminal means but failed. Any move by the Government of India to enter into an unholy alliance with their terrorist outfit to provoke a civil war will be unfortunate for India itself.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Do you think Government of India can settle more-than-fifty-year old Naga political imbroglio with the NSCN (IM) without involving other groups fighting for the same cause?

Adino Phizo: The longest ongoing international conflict of over fifty years between Nagaland and India is unequivocally about Indian aggression. It is an international conflict involving two nations, albeit unequal. No self-respecting nation will allow its international standing trivialized by another. The so-called NSCN (IM) terrorist outfit has no status to represent Nagaland. Whatever is India’s intention in the extraordinary farce taking place in New Delhi, it certainly has nothing to do with resolving the international conflict between the two nations.

Oken Jeet Sandham: As leader (President) of the Naga National Council (NNC), the oldest and only organization spearheaded for the Naga freedom movement, what do you observe sometimes all these political talks, peace processes, etc. going on with the Government of India without actually involving your organization (NNC)?

Adino Phizo: History always appears to favor the strong and can be seen as unforgiving for people without a leader with clear political vision. The Nagas see around their nation, former independent kingdoms, and independent people, all lost their separate identities. To be a nation state, Nagaland has complied with every international recognized steps. It is Indian international bully and militarized tyranny in Nagaland, preventing the Nagas its rightful place among the international community.

The Nagas led by A.Z.Phizo declared to the world their intention to stay independent on 14 August 1947, one day ahead of Great Britain granting independence to British India. It was followed by the historic voluntary national plebiscite conducted by NNC and held on 16 May 1951 to determine the wishes of the people on Naga nation and national independence. Unlike a political party, NNC is the embodiment of all Naga communities. Against all the odds, the Naga people delivered an overwhelming 99.98% verdict in favor of both Naga nation and staying independent. The Naga democratic mandate has been immutably entrusted with the Naga National Council. Further understanding reached with the “unadministered” Nagas in the East by the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo led to the establishment of the Federal Government of Nagaland on 22 March 1956.

Over the years the Government of India has never been shy to undermine the authority of NNC and the Federal Government, but it did not lead them anywhere. If in the past fifty years, India has not learned something about the Nagas, on foreign relations, the President of NNC is entrusted with exclusive executive independence, and therefore, without NNC endorsement no agreement or treaty can become valid.

Oken Jeet Sandham: What would be your reaction and move if Government of India is prepared to enter into a final political settlement with the NSCN (IM)?

Adino Phizo: Any move by the Government of India to impose on Nagaland a stage-managed political “settlement” would be a retrogressive step unlikely to enhance the international image of BJP government. The Naga people will not be responsible for the consequences if India attempt to marginalize the democratic Naga establishment. It will be a gross violation of Naga sovereignty.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Do you think that the Reconciliation initiated by Naga Hoho on December 20, 2001 has yielded any positive result so far?

Adino Phizo: Naga Hoho and a number of similar NGOs have been seeking to politicize their activities and prescribe their politically naive ideas as a panacea for peace and reconciliation. In the real world, national policies are decided by appropriate authorities and not by parties, groups and NGOs. As a nation, the democratically elected Federal Government of Nagaland as far as will decide what is in the best interest of Nagaland practicable.

Oken Jeet Sandham: As far as the Indian Prime Minister’s assertion is concerned, the integrity of the country is non-negotiable. How do you see sometimes on what way you can settle Naga political problem?

Adino Phizo: The Prime Minister of India will no doubt be able to evidence his assertion on the integrity of the country at sometime. So also, will the Naga experts based on historical facts. Unlike the ongoing stage-managed inconsequential talks, the government of India need no introduction to the genuine Naga government, namely, the Federal Government of Nagaland, and on international relations, NNC has the final authority. If India believes in democracy, why deny Nagas democracy?

Oken Jeet Sandham: Has the NNC changed its way of approach and thinking as compared to the ones pursued by late Naga Legendary freedom fighter, AZ Phizo?

Adino Phizo: There is no change in NNC philosophy, organization and policy, charted and pursued by the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo. On his acceptance of NNC Office in December 1950, the Naga leader waste no time to structure the organization. He formulated the ideology of NNC based on Naga democratic tradition of equality, freedom of expression, private ownership, justice and compassion. The organizational structure was kept simple with only the national President, Vice President, and no permanent secretary. Henceforth, Naga nation take precedence over different Naga communities and only named Regions identifies former communities. Each Region is headed by a Regional President, who is responsible for the sub-Regions, and every village within the Region. All Naga communities are represented in NNC at the Central Executive Committee, it is the body which co-ordinate national policy. Naga national policy is based on consensus that laid down: upholding Naga sovereignty, maintenance of traditional democracy, integrity of every Region, non-violence and friendly relations with all nations.

Under Naga Constitution, NNC retains responsibility for national policy and the exclusive executive independence on foreign affairs is vested with NNC President. There is some truth in the saying that a Naga who denies NNC is not a Naga.

Oken Jeet Sandham: In what way, Nagas can be brought under one umbrella?

Adino Phizo: The Nagas viscerally agree they belong together as one people and one nation. No Naga is ever forced to join Naga nation. In other words, the cohesion of Naga society transcends ideological and political differences.

In addition to Indian militarized tyranny in Nagaland, the Government of India use psychological weapons to drive a wedge between Naga society but the vast majority of Naga people refused to be swayed. In the propaganda war, the arrays of options at its disposals were; the media – both print and audio/visual, disinformation, and planting false evidence. It is bound to leave some scars for many years.

Inevitably, a few vulnerable Nagas fell victim of Indian bait and began to believe that the Naga society is ridden with “tribalism”, “factionalism”, “fractious” and worse, “fratricide”. A critical analysis of most of such allegations will find the evidence cited bears no resemblance to the specific claimed incident.

Admittedly, the so-called NSCN (IM), led by the perfidious Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah began to sow the seed of factionalism and fratricide in Nagaland in 1979/80. Until then such insidious influence were almost unknown. Without constant support given by the Indian army, their odious outfit would find they are unwelcome in Nagaland.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Are you prepared to talk to the Government of India if invited?

Adino Phizo: The NNC Office has always been ready for a sincere bilateral talk with India. The conflict between the two countries will not go away until NNC and Indian government could reach a definitive understanding based on mutual respects. India cannot indefinitely evade taking the hard decision.

From the very beginning, the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo repeatedly offered diplomatic solution. Regrettably, Indian aggression in 1954 forced the Nagas to defend their freedom. Over the years more than 100,000 Nagas, including children, women, and elderly persons, perished as a result of Indian army brutalities. Any reasonable person cannot help but ask with who India has been at war in the past fifty years?

Oken Jeet Sandham: Has the ‘Bedrock of Naga Society’ published by the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (I) damaged to the Naga political movement?

Adino Phizo: The publication mentioned above typically reflects identity crises found among members in the puppet government. It is symptomatic of split personality, someone while a Naga and yet seeks to please India, at the same time yearn to be accepted by both as normal. Over the years, India and its few loyal followers have tried everything to annex Nagaland and failed. An Indian party propaganda has no relevance to Naga stand.

Oken Jeet Sandham: How can you make friendly relationship with neighboring communities like Assamese, Meeteis, Arunachalese, Myanmarese who are sometimes afraid of Naga political settlement thinking that final settlement would affect their territorial integrities?

Adino Phizo: Ancient Naga history is based on oral tradition. Some noble families could trace back family lineage and tradition to 52 generations. By all accounts the independent Naga communities most of the times maintained friendly and peaceful relations with neighboring kingdoms and chiefs, for instance, Ahoms, Meeteis, Kacharis, Kachins and Burmese. Chronicles kept by the rulers of neighboring people concurred with Nagas accounts.

Before Great Britain granted independence to British India in 1947, the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo separately met and invited the leaders of Assamese, Garos, Khasis, Lushais, Mikirs, Abors, Mishmis, Tangkhuls, to join the Nagas and declare their independence. All declined to join explaining their difficulties.

In Nagaland’s conflict with India, the Naga army rarely strayed into neighboring territories for a fight. Nagaland is defending its freedom and not at war with neighboring people. The impeccable discipline of Naga army of never targeting civilians anywhere received praise even from the Indians.

Any future bilateral talk between India and Nagaland concerns violation of Nagaland sovereignty and illegal occupation of Naga territory. On the question of Naga territories arbitrarily removed in the name of “administrative convenience” by the British in the 19th Century, NNC is optimistic that with full consultations between interested parties, based on historical facts, a fair and amicable solution can be found at a later time.

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