Khekiye K. SemA IAS (Rtd), Forest Colony, Kohima
It is hard to believe that the Hon’ble Chief Minister is actually serious about requesting the GOI for “a policy of sustenance for the undergrounds”. Since he has repeated himself over and over again on this issue one has no further choice but to believe and conclude that he is dead serious about this proposition. Surely there are people in his cabinet capable of guiding him to think straight or does it consist of a crowd devoid of gray matter that only knows how to parrot ‘YES SIR’ to anything and everything that is proposed by the Hon’ble CM? While it no doubt affords him the comfort of completing his term without an opposition to his leadership, the danger of such complacent comfort could lead to arrogant decisions that may result in detrimental consequence at the cost of the Nagas.
The case of Rongmai Tribe as a recognized tribe within Nagaland and the pending subject of recognition of Mao and the Tangkhul Tribes in a similar manner is a case in reference. The true level of understanding or appreciation of the sentiment of the Nagas of Nagaland is no longer a factor. The well and truly expressed feelings of the Nagas of Nagaland against such a move be damned.
Deflecting his intended decision to a bureaucratic committee’s recommendation, who have limited choice but to toe his inclination, may serve his personal expansionist agenda and purpose but the consequent burden of such an arbitrary decision will finally rest on the shoulders of the people of Nagaland. Nagas should not be fated to this. The powers that be should realizeS that a boomerang impact will eventually be felt somewhere down the line. Wiser mind should therefore tread more cautiously in such matters.
It ought to occur to the Chief Minister that the moment the Factions accept such a sustenance package from the GOI, they might just as well pack up the ‘Sovereignty’ baggage and go home. As is the way of the politicians, they may twist and turn and explain that this ‘sustenance package’ is not a ‘surrender package’ which to me looks like one. This rehabilitation proposition simply boils down to asking your enemy to cease the fight for a while, beg them for food because you are hungry, and then continue the fight after eating the food you get from them.
I leave it to the people to judge the rationality of this proposition because this is exactly what the CM of Nagaland seems to be suggesting. Naga issue will become a non issue. On hindsight is this in fact a short cut game plan to resolve the Naga political problem for good? Taking the path of least resistance is the cowardly way of dodging the problem, but the problem remains unresolved nevertheless. We do not have to travel afar to some foreign land to learn a lesson when we can learn from the experiences we have had in our own backyard.
The status of the Shillong Accordist in the Mission Compound, Kohima and the Transit Campers at Chedema ought to provide us with ample examples of what will transpire even if such sustenance package were to be received from the GOI for the factions. Among other benefits, did the Shillong Accordist not receive Rs.20,000/- each for all their peace camps across the State as a sustenance support from the GOI to run their surrendered establishments back then? Did it stop them from taxing the people thereafter? Remember the Chakabama bridge incident? Similarly, if the GOI were to actually respond to the Chief Minister’s request positively, and the underground factions accept such a package, what makes the CM so sure that the Factions will immediately stop their taxation spree? Greed has no breaks. If the Factions continue raising taxes, which rest assured they will, even after accepting the package, can he stop them?
We will back to square one. So is this a solution or a practicable proposition at all? Yes, I would concede that making the Factions hoist their white flags would ease his nightmare. There is no doubt about that. However, this takes a semblance of a very potent poisoned carrot being dangled before the Factions. Will they take the bite?
What surprises me is the complete silence, the complete lack of reactions from all the Factions concerning this matter. Are the Factions actually hoping that the GOI will follow up action on the request made by the Hon’ble CM so that the 9 Factions of Nagaland can share the loot without assessing the consequence? Knowing the level of greed that permeates within the lot of them, sharing this loot, even if given, will not be an easy task. It may very well spark off another round of fratricidal elimination game on the question of equity disbursement or the lack of it. Instead of addressing a more sinister proposition that will shake the very foundation of the whole National Movement, the factions or at least a faction has been wasting its time threatening and making vain attempts to silence the voice of the people. The Factions seem to have lost their bearings somewhere along the line.
It is my convicted belief that public opinion is a serious weapon that needs to be fully awakened and let loose in Nagaland. This is our last and only bastion. This is a task well within the ambit of the Government of Nagaland to do so. Despite the animated stance of the Government, a ripple has just about begun to emerge where a channelized public opinion has induced a modicum of positive results.
Is this not visible enough already? Is it not enough for us to encourage and strengthen it? Instead of politicking with everything, the politicians should leave the Tribal Hohos alone to restore Naga Hoho to its legitimate place of honour and allow them to independently generate that kind of public opinion that could take us forward. This is an imperative need of the hour. The Government of Nagaland must take a very hard look at the ground reality. Granted, it is impotent against the Factions and their taxation. No one can blame them. This is not a simple matter for anyone, high or low, having to face a death threat tagged to a demand, but thoughts should be spared to reduce its overall impact …generate the force of public opinion.
What is however well within the power of the Government is to control the rampage of the overground organizations that are rampantly replicating the taxation regime of the Factions. There is a whole lot of truth when the Factions point their fingers at the Government and say that they alone are not the reason for price escalation. Not that the Government is not aware, but start with the eye sore sector of all the Police check gates raising transit tax from all the commercial vehicles flagrantly and openly without a care. Clamp down on all the fraudulent Unions, Associations and unnecessary syndicates operating in the commercial centers for every conceivable goods and services, not only in Dimapur but in all the Districts. The District Administration is not blind to it but just won’t raise a finger unless ordered to act. So order it with an accountability tag for a change and mean it. I think it is about time we stop passing the buck.