By: Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd), Forest colony, Kohima.: 21 Sep. 2012 1:38 AM IST
Kaka D. Iralu’s article of 18th Sept. “implication of NNC betraying the nation through Shillong Accord” attracted my attention. I have no intention of crossing sword with him but I do have questions that his views provoke. The effort is to try and come to terms with the truth and reality which require wisdom and a willing heart to change. It begins with an honest admission of a mistake when one is made and move on rather than to continue muddying the water. Through this discourse therefore, let us make an effort to help the readers to discern the truth.
Everything has a starting point. To begin with, no one will dispute that NNC was a political institution of the Naga Nation. That it submitted the all important political memorandums to the British and the Indian Govt., hoisted the Naga National flag on 14th August 1947 and conducted the national plebiscite on 16th May 1951 is not in dispute. It is a historical fact. It was the only political body that existed at that time to proclaim the rights of the Nagas. NNC rightly shouldered that obligation. Therefore, the Nagas owe its gratitude to NNC for this foresight of registering the rights of the Nagas in the eyes of the world. However, to claim that Naga sovereignty issue cannot be brought to a close without NNC is a matter of debate. The more relevant question that requires in-depth analysis and understanding is: did NNC lose its way? The answer to this question ought to establish its legitimacy.
The point of conflicting views begins with the Shillong Accord clause (i) which reads (quote) “The representatives of the underground organization conveyed their decision, of their own volition, to accept, without condition, the Constitution of India.”(unquote) There was no other underground organization other than the NNC and the FGN at the time when this accord was signed. If NNC/FGN did not sign this document as claimed by Kaka then which nonexistent underground did? Who then was Kevi Yallay, Z.Ramyo, I. Temjenba, S. Dshru and M. Assa? For heaven’s sake, how can anyone in his right senses continue talking of sovereignty after this?!! Would it be wrong to conclude that this Accord thoroughly destroyed the very spirit and foundry of the movement for which late Phizo sacrificed a lifetime? What baffles the lot of us is the perception that as a National leader he displayed no strength, courage or the responsibility to denounce it outright. Even if Phizo wrote to the Times (London) to express his personal view about not being a party to the Shillong Accord, it does not in any way alter the status of the Accord officially. The crucial aspect of the issue was not very much to do with whether he was a party to the signing of the Accord but the rejection of it. Moreover the London news paper was not fighting a Naga War; the NNC and FGN in Nagaland were.
Phizo’s statement (Quote) “If the Indian Government thinks it has achieved something through the Shillong Accord, then let them first raise the issue and I will give them a befitting reply”(unquote) sounds more like an effort to camouflage and redeem his inaction. What befitting reply can anyone give without first condemning and disclaiming the wrongful act itself? It was a National imperative, a National priority and a National responsibility that his own organization the NNC/FGN at home (not Times, London) which needed to officially know that the Shillong Accord was unacceptable and being rejected unequivocally by him, even if his own brother was a signatory of this compromising document. Would history not record this as a National priority being compromised for his family’s honour? All that was required of him was to condemn this Accord in no uncertain terms thereby decisively stemming speculation thereafter rather than exercise his misplaced ‘political wisdom to ignore’ the same at such a critical juncture of history. The confusion and division within the ranks in the aftermath eloquently confirms this fact of his ambiguity. It is more than obvious that the Govt. of India did achieve ‘something’ substantial called a change of tide by way of dividing the otherwise cohesive Naga movement, to its advantage.
The notion that the PM of India would not have met Phizo if this Accord was ratified by both the contending parties is rather farfetched. Let’s take a closer look at clause (iii) of the Accord which says (quote) “It was agreed that the representatives of the underground organizations should have reasonable time to formulate other issues for finalisation for final settlement” (unquote). As a presumptive argument one could very well put forth a view that in fact there was all the more reason for the PM of India to meet Phizo to ascertain what other issues were being formulated towards the final settlement within the Indian Constitution. The disadvantageous meeting of A.Z.Phizo with Prime Minister Moraji Desai was a meaningless exercise especially with the Democles’ spear in the form of the Shillong Accord hanging over his (Phizo’s) head. The contempt shown by Desai about the Naga issue clearly amplifies this fact. What befitting reply did he give? One can only conclude that for Desai, the game with the NNC/FGN was already played out.
The other compelling fact which prompts further question is that of Adino heading the NNC (Accordist) repeat Accordist faction. Read clause (i) of the Accord again. Does this not reinforce the impression that she is only following her father’s ideology? It defies logic to think otherwise. If we were to assume that Phizo actually denounced the Accord officially then what is she trying to prove by leading the Accordist crowd even now? Why should NNC be fragmented as it is today if not for this contentious stance on her part? Why is she, like her father, unable to distance herself from the Accord by officially denouncing it, instead of leading it, and unite the NNC? It is mind baffling to say the least.
This brings me to another sincerely felt event that I wish had happened differently. I am well aware of the sensitive parameter that I am about to tread into but let it be known that it is well intended. While there may be people who think otherwise, had the mortal remains of Phizo been entered in London and only be brought back after the conclusion of the Naga freedom struggle, however long it takes, it would have enshrined an eternal pride far more significantly for Phizo and the Nagas. After all Phizo did live as a free Naga all his life. At the heat of the moment Nagas further failed to comprehend that it was an insult to late Phizo that the GOI should condone all criminal charges against him and upgrade all efforts to ensure that his mortal remains was brought back to India. What crime did Phizo commit in the first place other than to stand up and fight for the rights of his people? Yet none among the Nagas officially questioned this. By not doing so it was more like an acknowledgement of the crimes committed by him which was otherwise being condoned on account of his death. The Nagas are sometime much too sentimental and shortsighted.
Phizo was the towering figure of NNC. Therefore, the minimum honour and tribute that he deserved was to allow his long suffering fellow comrades in arms, the NNC, to proudly take charge of his final journey home with all the back up support we could give them, not the other way round. It was their moment. Instead NNC was ignominiously relegated to the background. Nagas were much too busy only wanting to bring his body back without reading the significance of this act. In so doing, the Nagas helped to reduce the legendary stature of Phizo, who lived as a free Naga, but brought back with the tacit permission of GoI in death. The implication could have a far reaching negative ramification. Not deliberately so I’m sure, but on hindsight we the unassuming sentimental Nagas carried out an act of fulfilling clause (i)of Shillong Accord at his death for no fault of Late A.Z.Phizo.
On the issue that NNC is not Angami Public Organization or a Tenyimia Tribal Council, I would be inclined to think that all Nagas would endorse this statement full heartedly. What does however raise an eyebrow is in the manner in which Adino was elevated to the position of President of NNC with utter contempt of the requisite norms neither being observed nor followed. NNC Yezabo lays down basic regulations and formalities like filing of nomination, fixing date for the election, giving sufficient time for all the members of central executive council and regional president of NNC to be present. It also fixes the eligibility criteria for election to the Presidency.
It refers to Naga Patriot having put in more than ten years of active National Service with minimum age limits at 40 years. Granted, Adino is Phizo’s daughter but if NNC is a national institution, the dignity and respect that it deserves ought to have been honourably upheld. This did not happen. The only and all important eligibility factor that seemed to have dictated the questionable proceeding was that Madam was her father’s daughter. Dispassionately consider the fact that there were many capable leaders senior to Adino, people who had stood shoulder to shoulder with Phizo and made equal sacrifices from the start, who were totally ignored. Thus, the primacy of the Naga National Institution was denigrated to that of a family fiefdom by this very act of impropriety. It totally defiled the traditional Naga fairness and sensibility.
Nevertheless, the Nagas may still continue to accept NNC as a National Institution provided the dubious efforts of those at the helms of affair do not negate that definition. The only way to resurrect the past glory of NNC is for President Adino to take a hard look at the ground reality and adopt necessary steps to discard the Accordist uniform, legitimately regroup NNC under one roof, with or without her leadership, and then reclaim and redeem its place in history. Dealing with reality needs wisdom, courage and humility. It can change the course of history. However, nothing can be achieved without honest sacrifices being made. Think about it. Why let history pass one by while sailing an unchartered waters? Why should all those who believe in NNC in its present fragmented state be fated to ‘forever wonder on in the political wilderness’?
Well, the baton of national responsibility has been passed on to those who still believe in a better destiny for the Nagas beyond the Shillong Accord. This is the harsh world of reality! NPN