Divide and Rule: how to reconcile and unite? History of state formation

Continued from previous post.

Democratic principles were alien to him because he came from a tribe, Pangmi, closely associated to Konyaks, which leaders ruled supremely. He was above critique and so with the Eastern Command under his wing, he did what he felt like doing. When called for an NSCN meeting in Eastern Nagaland for which the other leaders had travelled wide and, under the guise of darkness he attacked their camp and killed many NSCN men instantly, many more survivors of this treacherous attack were on the run for safety, his men in persecution. Th. Muivah among then narrowly escaped the onslaught. That Khaplang could do this was made possible by S.C. Jamir who had command over the Assam Rifles and access to funding all kinds of operations. S.C. Jamir in the hands of the Indians masterminded Khaplang’s moves and so it was the Indians once more who were able to disunite the Nagas.

Though they thought, 1988, the Nagas were beaten for good; they had to learn the hard way that united Nagas do not easily give up. Consequently, after 1988 the war went on and while Khaplang frustrated the initiatives of the NSCN, those who frustrated by the hardships and sacrifices the NSCN required of them became renegades and defected to Khaplang, Yet the NSCN grew stronger nevertheless and the Government of India realized that this was the force to deal with for a solution and when the generals stated the war could not be won, they decided to seek a ceasefire.

Looking back on this background while reviewing the Peace Talks one cannot but conclude that the Government of India talks with a split tongue: officially, so on the table, it speaks of an honorable solution through peaceful means, while under it, it works hard to frustrate that goal. The last round of talks in Amsterdam from 7 to 9 December is a shining example of this. With the NSCN-Khaplang nexus on the table the talks the Indians avoided talking of a future relationship again. This was remarkable if not symptomatic and significant and  because during the former talks in Delhi, the same representatives of the Prime Minister of India announced that, during the next talks in Amsterdam, they would come up with an interim proposal. Though they did not elaborate on what this ‘interim proposal’ would be, the Nagas knew that any proposal to solve the conflict has to begin with the first step.

That first step had to undo what has been done to the Nagas, in other words the first step to reunify Naga areas which were so harshly separated by states and countries. “Yet”, said Th. Muivah in an interview preceding theAmsterdamtalks, “we understand the predicament of the Indians. They have their opposition to deal with and these are like hawks. On the other hand elections are near so the Congress Government likes to live up to its promises and by settling the Naga conflict once and for all, so they score. But then, this government is weak, it does not dare to take decisions with far reaching implications. This Government is afraid; it has no backbone, so I would not be surprised if their first step regarding this interim proposal is to allow the Nagas in other states than Nagaland to have more autonomy. They are right too in that case, because if they do that, it is a good sign. It means they are serious with us. They will have to go against the interests of the states who incidentally have no rights to our land, like we have no right to the land of other peoples living in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh andAssam. So, when they see that as an interim proposal we will say yes, but as a first step to an honorable solution.”

Stalling for time to wear out the Nagas, or a genuine discomfort on how to solve this conflict without angering anyone: opposition, the states concerned especially Manipur which rose violently over a minor snag in the ceasefire? “The Government of India cannot be but insincere. We understand that but we cannot tolerate indefinite stalling. So, I have told them again about Naga History and what this could mean should there be no resort but to resume the war. I said to them: the Nagas will never give up, no matter how much money you pour in getting at those who will ‘temporarily’ support you. Ask your Naga supporters whom you pay what they will choose in the end: will they choose forIndiaor will they choose to be independent?”, I asked them. “They were silent but said that they needed more time to work out the interim proposal they had promised and they apologized.”

That the Indians find it hard to come up with anything at all is obvious when one considers it just wants any people to abide by their rule. That nature was blatantly exposed when an extension of the ceasefire with the Boros of Assam was at stake. First of all the Indians wanted the Boros to sign an agreement containing the precondition that the talks were to be held ‘within the Indian constitution’. Secondly they accused the National Democratic Front of Boroland, NDFB of being the instigator of the Bangla-Boro clashes in Udailguri which left close to a hundred people dead and thirdly they held the same organization accounted for the serial bomb blasts in places inAssam. Mounting pressure bestowed on the Boros, who are similar in heritage and aspiration as the Nagas, resulted in the Government of India dictating rather than seeking an honorable solution for the Indo-Boro conflict. It wanted a solution of its own making. And, effectively this just meant: stop talking, lay down arms and sign to be part ofIndia. Because some of the Boro leaders succumbed under this pressure, they indeed signed and a split, similar to the one in the Naga ranks, became fact. But the Nagas, though also to an extent divided, still stand strong and consequently, unless in the foreseeable future the Government of India comes up with a genuine ‘Interim Proposal’, the future of India and Nagaland will be one of bloodshed. The Indians will attack and the Nagas will defend their stand. In the fall out the Northeast will be burning again, but with a difference.

This time around India cannot conceal what it does; it cannot to keep the then full blown conflict secret anymore. With many means of communication means available today, not this time it can keepIndiaas well as the world oblivious of what it unleashes. The International Community, the world will come know of the suppression which already in the past resulted in land grabbing, torture, rape extra judicial killings and blatant extermination, in short genocide. The Nagas will spread the news on atrocities being committed while fighting for their cultural and personal survival. Many stories of these atrocities of the past committed in the fifties and sixties have been documented by the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, stories only old Nagas can still tell.

In conclusion, the Indo-Naga Peace Process has been one of the Mouse taking to the Giant, or in Naga Christian terms, the story of David and Goliath talking peace. And though the Goliath now knows what David is going through it cannot and will not grant it the freedom David so dearly desires. Almost sixty years of war of which, since the last ceasefire, 13 years of talking led to the Government of India doing nothing to solve the conflict. Instead it still uses sheer force. If nothing changes eventually more and more Nagas, like former Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Manipur respectively S.C. Jamir and Reishing Keishing will feel that there is nothing to gain when the conflict is prolonged indefinitely but destruction and death and are pressed to accept anything the Government of India is willing to hand to them. Is this whatIndiais banking on? IsIndiabanking on the time the seemingly eternal life of the Naga Leaders will come to an end? Is the hidden agenda ofIndiato wear out the Nagas out so they will come to accept the inevitable?

Though getting old, Khadao Yantam vice president, recently died, the Naga leaders are still vibrant. Is India reasoning and taking its chances that next generation of leaders may be less competent, less convinced, have less charisma, are more corruptible, are susceptible to the reasoning of Indian leaders?  Indians may think that these Naga men and women don’t have the integrity and credibility of the old leaders and patiently wait while they scheme. They keep on pouring money to destabilize and confuse. They supply weapons to renegades who committed crimes they cannot conceal. They oppress their own so that the Indian Government can blame it all on the Naga infighting.

Interesting observations and questions perhaps, but they are of no significance if the Nagas do not bow but make stronger impact. When the Nagas apply more substantive clout, militarily, politically home and abroad the talks will become more equal and David will use his wits, not to fell Goliath but to open substantive talks for a future and mutual relationship. How they can do that? How can a mouse put pressure on an elephant? How can David rise to the level of Goliath? One mouse cannot, but when David had thousands of mice on his side the situation changes dramatically; when thousands become millions, the international public, no elephant will be able to sustain. Goliath has to come to the level of David to talk and decide on the future of the Nagas, a future which has the right to self determination secured. How it all began and how it arrived at this juncture, for a good understanding of the conflict let’s review the History. To be concluded.

Extracted from the book:  Between David and Goliath -the Conflict and Peace Talks between Nagaland and India: The Indo-Naga experience by Frans Welman, Amsterdam

EU Ambassadors interact with Naga civil society

NTIMES 15MAY: EU Ambassadors interact with Naga civil society
Chizokho Vero | Kohima | May 14 Morung Express

The visiting European Ambassadors today interacted with the NGOs here at Razhu Pru where they were briefed about Naga political issue and aspirations of the Nagas among others by the representatives of Naga civil society. The purpose of their three day maiden visit to Nagaland according to them was to improve the relationship between India and European countries including North East India.

Naga Hoho President Keviletuo Kiewhuo told the media persons after an interaction that the NGOs had highlighted to the visiting diplomats about the political development and aspirations of Nagas. The Naga Hoho chief said the visiting Ambassadors were patient enough to hear the voices of NGOs and want to keep in touch with them. The diplomats informed the NGOs about the impact of conflict and how to resolve it. Kiewhuo said that he found them exhibiting “genuine concern” for Nagas.

Angami Public Organization (APO) President Keneingunyu Sekhose also told the media persons that the visiting Ambassadors expressed their desire to explore about investment potential in Nagaland. During the interaction, the civil society groups also conveyed its desire to have cultural exchange programme with European countries, Sekhose said.
The visiting diplomats expressed their desire to know more about the youth activities in Nagaland and the challenges they will be facing for better tomorrow.

The interaction hosted by Angami Public Organization witnessed the presence of representatives from Naga Hoho, Nagaland Baptist Church Council, Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization, Nagaland Catholic Association, Naga Students’ Federation and Angamimiapfu Mechu Krotho representing Naga Mothers’ Association. Later, the visiting diplomats made a courtesy call to Nagaland’s Governor Nikhil Kumar at Raj Bhavan. They also met with Nagaland’s Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his cabinet ministers which, was followed by a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister.

Earlier, the visiting Ambassadors visited Nagaland University, Kohima campus, Meriema this morning and interacted with faculty, scholars and students. They also held a meeting with leaders of political parties at the committee hall of Nagaland Legislative Assembly. Last night, they met with the senior officers of the Nagaland government at the Heritage and had a brief interaction on the state’s avenues for investment in various sectors.

The eight-member delegation is led by Joao Cravinho from the European Union as Head of delegation and includes Brisian Kirilove Kostova from Bulgaria, Milosav Stasek from Czech Republic, Terhi Hakala from Finland, Janos Terenyi from Hungary, Piotr Klodkowski from Poland, Marian Romasik from Slovak Republic and Card Meier Klodt from Germany.
On Tuesday (May 15), the diplomats will visit 2nd World War Cemetery, Khonoma Green Village, State Museum and Naga Heritage Village, Kisama.

They will depart Kohima for Dimapur on Tuesday where they will interact with Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries at Niathu Garden. They will also attend the Ist Police Day celebration at Nagaland Armed Police Training Centre, Chumukedima which will be followed by dinner hosted by Home Minister Imkong L. Imchen. They will depart Dimapur for Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
Visit to Nagaland University

The visiting Ambassadors during the day also visited the Nagaland University, Kohima campus, Meriema. Interacting with the Vice Chancellor, academic staff and students of Nagaland University, the visiting dignitaries said that as Ambassadors, part of the mission is to discover the country and to work more closely with India including Nagaland. They said that they decided to visit the University because it is a central place for everyone. Skill development is the biggest challenge that India faces, they said adding that the world is facing skill shortage.

The visiting Ambassadors also stressed on cooperation between European and Indian Universities and to create opportunities for exchange of students and faculties between Nagaland University and European Universities. Vice-Chancellor, Nagaland University, Prof. B.K. Konwar gave a speech on ‘Nagaland University in Perspective’. The visiting Ambassadors also had discussion with the faculty members, research scholars and students.
Meeting with political parties

The European Ambassadors held a meeting with leaders of political parties in Nagaland at Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Committee Hall. The meeting was presided over by Speaker Nagaland Legislative Assembly Kiyanilie Peseyie. The visitors said that the objective of their visit is to understand the Indian diversity and to understand Nagaland better and its challenges for economic development in Nagaland in particular.

Briefing the gathering, Minister for Urban Development and Higher Education and NPF President, Dr. Shurhozelie highlighted the challenges of economic advancement and added that the visit is unique and will be a milestone in the history of the Nagas. He said that the formation of Nagaland Legislative Forum of the 11th Nagaland Legislative Assembly comprising of all elected members of NLA is a big boost to finding a solution to the long struggle of the Naga Political Problem. He called upon the visiting Ambassadors for their supports and suggestion to the Indian Government for finding a solution of the Naga Political issue.

Speaking on the occasion, MLA and senior Congress Member, K.V. Pusa briefed the delegates about the Naga people living in neighboring states of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and one-third of the Naga population living in Myanmar. Replying to questions put forward by the Ambassador of Finland on the participation of Women in Naga society, he said that women are treated equal with men.

Participating in the discussion initiated by the visitors, Tokheho Yepthomi from Congress party and leader of the opposition of Nagaland Legislative Assembly said that Nagas are still economically backward but the visit of Europeans Ambassadors and its outcome would lighten the problem.
Meeting with government officials
The European Ambassadors met with the State senior officers at the Heritage on 13th May 2012 to have a brief interaction on the State’s avenues for investment in various sectors. The meeting was hosted by Nagaland State Chief Secretary, Lalthara, IAS.

Welcoming the dignitaries to the State, Lalthara said that European countries have set the best example to the world in setting up a global village where boundaries are respected but freedom to movement within the European countries is free and everyone should learn from them. The Chief Secretary was of the view that Nagaland is growing with the rest of the Country and is advisable for investment.

Commissioner & Secretary Planning, Mhombemo Patton gave a brief report on the State. He said that the story of Nagaland is of a small State with a high growth. He explained that although the growth has been consistent in the State, sectors like Agriculture, Tourism, Bee Keeping, Bamboo, Infrastructure and Banking & Insurance have seen a higher growth.


Home Ministry upset with MEA over EU envoys visit to Nagaland

New Delhi, May 14 (PTI): The Ministries of Home and the External Affairs were today at loggerheads over the visit of eight envoys of the European Union to Nagaland. Following a protest lodged by MHA over the visit without any intimation and security clearance and the ministry raising its concern on the delegation meeting political leaders and civil society, Foreign Secretary Rajan Mathai spoke to Home Secretary R K Singh on the issue.

“In all such visits necessary process is ensured and coordination is ensured amongst all concerned organisations and ministries,” sources in the MEA said. Asserting that the decision to allow the diplomats to visit the sensitive northeastern state was “unilateral”, the MHA asked the MEA to tell it the purpose of the visit and wanted to know why security clearance has not been sought before giving permission for the visit as is the normal practice.

Official sources said the delegation, which includes ambassadors of Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia, met Nagaland Chief Secretary, Speaker of the Assembly, leaders of political parties, representatives of several NGOs and businessmen yesterday. The envoys also visited Nagaland University and met Governor Nikhil Kumar today. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio is hosting a dinner for them tonight.

Sources said the MHA was particularly upset over the delegation’s meeting with leaders of political parties and civil society members. It was of the view that Nagaland being an insurgency-prone state such representations could lead to sharing of information which are inimical to country’s interests.

Naga Hoho for Naga settlement within 2012

DIMAPUR, May 13 – The Naga Hoho after deliberating over the 15 year-long Indo-Naga cease fire vis-à-vis political dialogue between the NSCN-IM and Government of India has called for Indo-Naga political settlement within 2012.

The Naga Hoho said various consensus decisions were taken on matters pertaining to the common interest of Naga people. The decisions were arrived at following ‘threadbare discussion’ at a consultative meeting with Tribal Hohos on May 8 in Kohima, said a communiqué issued by Naga Hoho president and general secretary Keviletuo Kiewhuo and P Chuba Ozukum.

It also said the meeting decided to send a Naga Hoho delegation to New Delhi to apprise the Indian leaders for an early political settlement. The Naga Hoho further said it will appeal to all Naga political groups to join the ongoing political dialogue based on the principles of ‘one people one nation’.

The meeting took into cognisance the alleged serious violation of ceasefire ground rules by Assam Rifles and their ‘unwarranted’ activities in Naga areas. However, it also said the violation of ceasefire ground rules by various Naga political groups too cannot be denied which, it maintained, has become imperative to be corrected.

The Naga Hoho opined that no IAS cadre belonging to North East States should be in- charge of NE in the Union Home Ministry in order to promote better coordination and avoid bias.

The land/border dispute within the imaginary boundary of Nagaland and Manipur was also discussed with special reference to Dzükou valley and the recent standoff between Matikru and Jessami villagers. EMN