Prospect for Negotiation
By: U A Shimray
In 1964 Ceasefire, three members Peace Mission was formed, consisting of Missionary Michael Scott, Gandhian BP Chaliha and Jayaprakash Narayan to facilitate the peace process. Unfortunately, the Peace Mission collapse within one year. The Naga peace also talk stuck with “anything less than complete independence.” JP Narayan went on to say Nagas to abandon the dream of independence and settle for autonomy within the Union [Also, to give up control over the army, foreign affairs and currency]. In all other respects, Nagas would be free to mould their destinies as they pleased. Mr. YD Gundevia, the Indian negotiator at the political talks concluded with a remark; “a truce without a political settlement.” As said, ceasefire ended with Naga unwilling to accept anything short of complete independence, which Delhi refused to concede. At that time, Indian government charge Nagas for the “delaying tactic” and the situation designed to give the Nagas time to improve their military capability.
The 1975 peace initiation under Mrs. Indira Gandhi marked the division of Naga politics for creating so-called “Shillong Accord.” In fact, the failure of talks politically divides the Naga society viz., pro-Accord versus anti-Accord. Discontentment to the Accord spread the germ of sectional rivalry and political split, leading to the formation of another movement called National Socialist Council of Nagaland(lim) (NSCN). Further, the NSCN experienced a major setback in early 1980s with the split of two factional groups. The 1960s and 1970s peace talks failed to produce any productive political paradigm but humiliation and socio-political divides among the Naga population. The sad episode of 1960s peace talks still remains as bad memory to many Nagas. The experience includes human rights violations and extra-judicial killings in the Naga hills. Most of the atrocities committed to the poor villagers. It was the time, the Government soldiers came in packs in the village demanding to know where the Naga insurgents were hiding…And use tactics like “village grouping,” “concentration camp” and “curfew.”
Prospect for Negotiation…!!
Present Ceasefire is rather disappointing in many counts. Since 1997, a journey of Naga political talks has tracked down all the way from Amsterdam, Bangkok to New Delhi and now Hebron [where all the “Collective Leaders” are conclave at the moment]. The two parties still hitch on peripheral issues like “ground-rules” and other technical aspects of the Ceasefire framework whereas; the Core issue is not heading forward. The crucial question here is the prospect for negotiation. Indeed, 10 years of searching for durable settlement remains out of sight. One can ponder why the talks is prolonging this far. Another query that struck is- in this prolong tactics who is gaining and who is loosing [of the two talking parties]. Hitherto, prolong ceasefire tends to generate countervailing tendencies.
The business of truce is serious engagement. Nagas have already missed one [1964 Ceasefire] this time the opportunity should capitalise to the best option. No doubt, Naga leaders have already perceived certain “proposal” however; the Indian government is only taking reactionary stand rather than endorsing the view. In fact, such reaction could be seen as one possible reason how the government of India play a tactics of delaying game. On the other hand, the tactics could also translate as “death trap.” Nagas should no underestimate the Indian political shrewdness. Nevertheless, New Delhi already gained immense experience while Nagas is just experimenting.
In this interim period of Ceasefire, certain discontent commotion and confrontation happened within the Naga society. Such social commotion is not a good sight to see. One of the root causes could be occasional indulgence “unpleasant-activities” by so-called “national-workers.” For instance, direct involvement in Indian Electoral process, civil work, governmental contract and developmental scheme distribution. As said, this has become more prominent in this intervening period of ceasefire. Discontentment or rather put as instance spark of the people is evident in the recent Dimapur incident the “Black Sunday.” It is also worth mentioning the issue of sensational killing of two school boys by kidnappers in Senapati district [Who involved and who is to be blame is another mystery cloudy story…]. Indeed, searching for amicable solution to the Naga problem is not non-sense dealing but very serious matter. However, the engagement in “unhealthy” activities as full time job is politically unacceptable. The trends of unhealthy interference [that is happening now] are NOT the prospect for negotiation.
One can remember Mao Tse-tung famous assertion- rebel group depend on civilian population for their survival. Because guerilla warfare basically derives from the masses and is supported by them, it can neither exist nor flourish if it separates itself from their sympathies and cooperation. “Guerillas must be like fish and swim in the sea of the people,” Maoist dictum. Ng. Muivah [Retd. Lecturer] writes: “The voice of the people is the voice of God. The Naga public also enjoys the same power. Prolonging the movement decades after decades may bring ‘Political Fatigue’ which is nothing but self-defeat. In short, let us unite and achieve our goal [“Wungram Colony Burns,” The Morung Express].
Nagas should create greater platform for public debate, reasoning, and construct fundamental nature of healthy discussion, criticism, opinion sharing and intellectual inputs. I have no hesitation to state that Naga politics has become complex and messy. It is also true that the Naga political struggle started to repel many young persons. Today, Nagas are in the whirlpool of rampant corruption [including both “Over-Under-ground”]. The phrase “national interest” is no longer a catchy word but it often tag pseudonym connotation. Indeed, this so-called money culture has done colossal damaged in the social system.
My final summation, the Naga movement is not for “economic gain” of some people…but it is inherent political rights of the Nagas. Unhealthy indulgence must stop! If the trends continue then the real core issue of the Nagas may just vanish in this prolonging ceasefire. So lesson need to be drawn from the failure of the talks and learn from the past mistakes.