By: Xavier P. Mao, Professor, Department of Philosophy, NEHU, Shillong
I would like to raise a few questions for fellow Nagas to examine and reflect upon them together as to what is happening to the Naga society today. Why Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation is rapidly growing in large numbers? Apart from increase in membership, it is drawing very big support and sympathy from all sections of the Naga society. Are the different Naga political factions still legitimately represent the Naga people like in the past? What substantial changes have taken place in the Naga society in the last three to four decades?
What substantial changes have taken place in the policy of the Government of India towards the Nagas in the last 3 to 4 decades? What other important changes have taken in the world politics which have some impacts on the Naga political movement? Have the intention and motive of the different Naga political factions changed over the last few decades? Who is or are responsible for the breakup of the original one Naga political movement, that is, the Naga National Council (NNC)? Why there are 10(ten) Naga political factions today?
Will there be more multiplications of more factions in the near future? Today unlike in the past the Naga public is fed up or bored or discontented or tired of nay strongly disapprove of multiple unabated taxation? There is a wide talk of disgust, anger and curse about the so called taxes among the Naga public. Why taxes have been imposed even upon the poorest of the poor Nagas? Such taxes are never imposed upon the poor in any civilized state or society. In the initial stage of the Naga people’s political movement such taxes were never taken from the poor. It is a fact that the multiple taxes and the absolutely irrational and greedy ‘taxes’ started only when the different factions emerged.
Under the euphemistic names of fighting for the ‘Naga Nation’, ‘Naga Liberation,’ ‘Naga Political Sovereignty,’ ‘defending the Naga society’ and the ‘protection of Naga identity’ the majority of the fighters are busy extorting easy money for their own livelihood, comfort and luxurious living. Occasionally they have to terrorize and intimidate the public by virtue of possessing guns to display and enforce their will upon the public. Are all the so called Naga National Workers got rotten with few exceptions? Is the Naga aspiration for political sovereignty in the 21st century outdated?
Are the badly divided Naga factions too insignificant to fight against the mighty machinery of the Government of India? What is the significance of the ceasefire between the GOI and the different Naga political factions? Will there be any fruitful result in the ongoing protracted negotiations between the GOI and the NSCN(I-M)? Despite several rounds approximately 70(seventy) negotiations, till date it is meaningless because the talks have not moved forward at all as per the information provided by the Indian political leaders. Do the NSCN(I-M) leaders know that they are being deceived and cheated by the GOI?
If they know, then why are they continuing with the talks? If they do not know, then it is high time for them to wake up and demand negotiation with a group of political leaders if the Prime Minister cannot be present in every negotiation as agreed upon in the beginning of the talks. Why do they make a mockery of themselves in negotiating with retired bureaucrats? From the public mood and reaction it is abundantly clear that the present so called National Workers are hated, despised and even cursed unlike in the past.
Such attitude is visible when Indian Army particularly Assam Rifles make arrest of any of the cadres of political factions while collecting ‘tax’ or threatening someone. The public does not show any protest or sympathy against such arrest unlike in the past. On the contrary, the public seems to be happy with such arrest. This is not a surprise today since the major chunk of the factions is constituted of the scum or the worst sections of the society.
Such situation is quite natural since unlike in the past, there is no proper scrutiny at the time of recruitment. It is perhaps very lucrative and highly profitable to join any faction as there is plenty of money through the unabated taxation without the sacrifice and service to the people. Their primary activities seem only to collect as much money as possible from the public through terror, threat, violence and killing. To illustrate this point, the Arunachal Nagas are so frustrated and terribly angry that they wrote memorandum to the Prime Minister and President of India to delete the label Naga.
They do not want to be called Nagas anymore as too much violence has destroyed their lives. It is no doubt too much violence has been perpetrated upon the Naga society by the different factions. In the past violence and destruction were perpetrated by the Indian Army but unfortunately that has been substituted by the immoral Naga factions with exceptions to a tiny fractions of the old veterans.
To summarize and put it in nutshell; Human beings have been fighting with each other to retain their cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious and political identity of their own since time immemorial. If history is any proof to this effect the fight between Aryans and Dravidians, white and black, English and Irish, Red Indians and Europeans is a pointer in this regard. Seen in this light, the struggle of the Nagas for a sovereign, independent and separate Nagalim is no exception.
The development of science and technology has not helped to that extent to find out to the centuries old problems. Till date, no permanent solution has been found out to the question of identity in different parts of the world. Today the exploitation and the oppression of the Nagas by so called Indians particularly the Army are not palpable. But the exploitation and violent threats of the Nagas by fellow Naga political factions are clearly felt. Such manifestations are the emergence of ACAUT, the occasional confrontations between the Naga public and the Naga political factions and the mutual acrimonious accusation of each other as criminals and terrorists.
I wish to humbly suggest in this connection, Naga brethren of all hues should forget the past for whatever blunders and mistakes have been committed and try to open a new chapter and live a new life. The Naga political factions have to abandon violent policy, extortion and earn real respect from the public through the life of service and goodness. This may be bitter pills for some Naga leaders to swallow but this has to be done.
The Naga public should not push the NSCN(I-M) in its negotiation with the GOI to stick to the old stand of sovereign independent Nagalim which is impossible at this point of time. What are reasonable and realistic solution should be negotiated with the GOI within a particular timeframe and negotiation only with Prime Minister along with other political leaders from major political parties of India. Absolute uniformity in human world is not only impossible but is nonexistent.
It is unity through plurality that is the best policy for the good of any people. The Naga society is still in fluid condition and it takes long years to get stabilized. Unless the Naga society is ridden of the epidemic of violence and extortion, it cannot hope to prosper and flourish.