Sincerity without political will . . . is meaningless

He is a Leader, Friend, and Uncle to many of us, a well-known political figure and yet who remains a humble man. Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you Mr. Mani Charenamei, former Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the Outer Manipur Constituency. Here are his insights shared with NagalimTimes (NT) members.

NT: Good Evening! Sir  

Charenamei: Good evening everyone

NT: How often do you visit NT group and how do you like it?

Charenamei: I do visit NT regularly and I like it.

NT: What do you think of all those issues and topics we discuss in a social networking sites or groups like ours? Do they have any impact outside the virtual world?

Charenamei: The topics and Issues discussed in Nagalim Times are highly educative and enlightening. Topics pertaining to Naga Political issue are quite relevant to our present society and the divergent opinions expressed by various learned members has been very helpful in making many visitors to understand the Naga issue in perspective.

NT: You were a high ranked Forest Officer before coming into active politic, what prompted you to join politics?

Charenamei: I truly love my forester job, it has been my passion to work in the Forest department and I like to take up the challenges of protecting the rich biodiversity of our forest and I still consider myself as a forester till today.

In my life’s journey as a student activist and as a forester I came across different kinds of untold hardships and sufferings the Naga people in particular and tribal people in general were facing while trying to cope with the meagre needs of their daily lives. On top of innumerable sufferings and abject poverty the Naga people have been suffering from untold hardships and humiliation in the hands of the insensitive administrators and the unruly Security forces.  I also had a strong desire to help the government to solve insurgency in the North Eastern Region by highlighting the genuine grievances of various ethnic groups of the state in the Parliament and in other appropriate places to draw the attention of the concerned authorities for speedy redressal of their problems. I also strongly felt that Naga political leaders should not alienate the Naga Underground Workers just because they rebel against the Nation but should have a heart to understand them otherwise our leadership can be questioned by the people. My passion to help the poor and the weak had actually prompted me to join politics

NT: Do you think the Naga Youths needs to involve more into politics?

Charenamei: I think sincere and committed youths should join politics however they should be aware that there will be temptations, hardships, insult and humiliations galore as they take up political struggles. However there is no greater sacrifice than working for the people who are in need of justice and protection.

NT: We have discussed and deliberated much about the Naga political issues in this group (NT) yet we are without any substantial clue or information in most cases. Can you update us about the ongoing Indo-Naga talks?

Charenamei: Nagas are living in a sophisticated age and the number of intellectuals has increased many folds. Therefore, when we discuss, analyse and debate on issues pertaining to social, political or economic issues concerning Naga people vis-à-vis ever changing surrounding scenario, it is always better to substantiate and contextualise our issues with facts and figures.

As I am not a party to any of the Negotiating teams, I am not in a position to throw much light on the status and progress of the ongoing Indo- Naga Peace Talks. However, as per statements issued by both the Indian Leadership and the NSCN (IM) from time to time, I can safely say that Peace Talk is heading towards an honourable solution.

NT: What kind of solution do you foresee and when?

Charenamei: It is difficult to predict anything on the outcome of the Peace Talk and likely date of Signing Peace Accord now. But, I am hopeful that if settlement is brought to the decades old political problems, Nagas will be able live with dignity and honour as an individual and as a people.

NT: Do you think the GOI is sincerely working on bringing about a solution to the decades old Naga Political issue?

Charenamei: I believe that Govt. of India has been sincere and is sincere till today. But sincerity without political will to solve the Naga issue is meaningless.

NT: Don’t you think the frequent shuffle in the Ministry of Home Affairs for GOI is affecting the flow of talks?

Charenamei: Frequent change of Home Minister should not hamper the Peace Talk but what matter is, we need a Minister who can take political decision and who can take responsibility.

NT: We still vividly remember you spearheading and taking part in the rallies for Naga Integration. How much have we achieved on that?

Charenamei: The desire to live as a people by integrating our lands which is the common aspiration of the Naga people upheld by the Naga Hoho, UNC, Nagaland State Assembly and all the national and regional political parties functioning in the state.  I, on my part as a Naga, always felt that it is my bounden duty to support the Naga cause. My main mission as a member of parliament was to sensitise the Indian Parliament about the legitimate aspiration of our people to live under one administration and to highlight pertinent issues concerning the political, economic and social rights of the Naga people.

The demand for Naga Integration is not negotiable and the right to live together is the highest goal of the Naga people. The essence of our political struggle lies in the integration of our land and people. The fight for integration of our land and people has to continue with much vigour and must be pursued by the Naga public themselves till it is achieved. If our Land and People are integrated we will gain many political dividends.

The issue has been brought to the knowledge of the parliament in the form of parliamentary question and by raising the issue during discussions under various rules, by way of submitting memorandums to all the Ministers, MPs of both the houses both in English and Hindi version to sensitise the Naga Integration issue. The leader of the house of the ruling Congress party was forced to withdraw the infamous clause of the Common Minimum Program which said that the territorial boundary of the North Eastern state will not be changed. I think our issue is very genuine and legitimate in the context of the Indian Constitution and in the context of the criteria taken into account while creating several states under Indian union since Independence.

NT: Please tell us, what is Alternative Arrangement (AA) as demand by United Naga Council (UNC)?

Charenamei: The demand for Alternative Arrangement by the UNC, apex Naga body in Manipur, as I understand is a demand to the Central Government to make alternative arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur outside the control of Manipur govt. even as final solution is being hammered out, because the Chief Minister and his council of ministers has failed to recognise the existence and the sufferings of the Naga people. The Chief Minister of Manipur has acted in contravention to the Constitution of India by deliberately dishonouring the provision of the article no.3 and 4 of the Indian Constitution. The Govt. of Manipur deliberately undermined the Peace Settlement initiated by Govt. of India for bringing about lasting peace in the insurgency affected Naga areas of North East Region of India. In 1964 the then Chief Minister of Manipur, Mr. M. Koireng Singh welcomed the extension of Cease fire operation to 4 Naga dominated districts of Manipur though it was opposed by the then State Congress President. But Govt. of Manipur, under the influence of the Valley people blocked the peaceful visit of Mr Th. Muivah, Gen. Secretary, NSCN (IM) to his native village by using the state security forces resulting in the death of two innocent students. Having seen and experienced the undemocratic, immature, arrogant and high handed attitude of Manipur Government and the lack of political will on the part of Govt. of India to right the wrong, Nagas have been compelled to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and started the movement for Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur till final solution to the Naga political problem is found.

NT: What do you say about the demand for Frontier Nagaland by the Eastern Naga People Organization (ENPO)?

Charenamei: Underdevelopment of any region or area due to deliberate negligence of the state is wrong. All out effort should be given to bring the neglected region at par with the developed areas by providing additional funds. We Nagas should remember that the Nagas of Naga Hills district and Mon -Tuensang  area of erstwhile NEFA were integrated to form the present Nagaland state with the sole aim to empower the Naga people with political power so that they can take decision on their own for their betterment and development. As we are one people, our State Executives should be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of all the tribal communities of the state and they (Authorities) should not withhold or delay justice to the most genuine need of the people. And I think, our developmental issues should not be the main basis for demanding a separate state because it will weaken the process to form a stronger and consolidated federal political unit. Therefore my humble appeal to the leaders of ENPO is to have a second thought on their demand for a separate state because the Naga people under the aegis of Naga Hoho have decided to work for an integrated Naga homeland. The aspiration of the Naga people has been upheld by four successive historic resolutions of Nagaland State Assembly to bring the contiguous Naga Area under one administrative umbrella. And we should be also reminded that creation of Nagaland state in the sixties was a classic case of partial Naga Integration.

NT: Sir, your loss in the last election was unfortunate and it’s considered a major drawback in solving the Naga political issues by many. Any comment?

Charenamei: If every Naga is thinking on that line it is good. Here, I wanted to add that my main role as Member of Parliament was to sensitise the parliament about the seriousness of the Naga problems and to pressurise the Govt of India through the Parliament to find amicable solution to the vexed Naga issue so that hostilities against one another will be brought to an end and so that the Naga people may be able to live in peace, with dignity and honour like other people in rest of the country. I also considered myself as an ambassador of Peace to the Parliament of India. In fact, sending a Naga MP to the Indian parliament with people’s mandate itself is a clear message that the Nagas want to live in peace.

If we seriously think that we should have an MP to highlight our various problems in the Parliament we should not repeat the same mistake again because we cannot afford to put our people’s future at stake.

NT: Your advice or suggestion to the bloggers and also to the group.

Charenamei: My humble advice to the NT group and bloggers is not to use the social networking sites for venting personal feelings against friends and to criticise your opponents by using un-parliamentary words. But use the site for disseminating important information and for spreading awareness among the bloggers and other visitors. Always post only authentic information and avoid spreading unconfirmed news.

NT: Thank you very much for your time, Sir.  We look forward to hear more from you.

Charenamei: My sincere thanks to the Admins of NT and all the readers.

Courtesy: Nagalim Times. www.facebook.com/groups/nagalimtimes

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Muivah warns Delhi on Khaplang – It could be China or Myanmar using rival group

By: NISHIT DHOLABHAI, Telegraph India 

New Delhi, Oct. 30: The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has warned the Centre that helping its rival group would mean that it is playing with fire in a region which is closer to Southeast Asia than India.

In an interview to The Telegraph, NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said if the NSCN (Khaplang) can be used by Indian intelligence agencies, it could very well be used by China, the US or Myanmar. NSCN (K)’s elusive leader S.S. Khaplang resides in Myanmar.

Intelligence agencies have been helping NSCN (K) not only with arms and ammunition but also giving them money through the state government, Muivah said.

The NSCN, formed in 1980 after the failure of the Shillong Accord of 1975, split into the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah groups in 1988. Since then, the two factions have been fighting continuously. This infighting is going on only because Indian intelligence is helping one particular section, Muivah alleged. The septuagenarian rebel leader, who steered clear of the media ever since he arrived in India last December, harped on how geopolitics of the Northeast makes it closer to China and Southeast Asia and that is precisely why the government should be careful. Significantly, the utterances come when the Centre is hardselling its Look East policy in the region’s eight states.

Muivah said during his talks with the Centre last month, he reminded them of a conference in Colombo during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister where every nation was against India. “Everyone was with China.”

Following a public outburst against the NSCN (K) in August 2003 when its leaders had to escape Mokokchung town in Nagaland, the outfit had allegedly lost a lot of cash. The Centre even “compensated” Khaplang, Muivah claimed, saying he had evidence of this. “That money was compensated through Nagaland by the government of India. How many crores, we do not know, but the transaction was done in Calcutta.”

This is the first time that the outfit has directly indicted the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government for helping the rival group. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio usually sides with the NSCN (I-M). Asked about the forthcoming Assembly elections scheduled to be held sometime in February, Muivah said his group would help those who support him.

Interview by Frans Welman on Secretary Gen. Marino B.

UNPO Interview with Secretary General Marino Busdachin Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization by Frans Welman Naga International Support Center (on videotape) 7 September 2007

FW: Could you explain the objectives of UNPO in relations to what the United Nations covering regarding the Covenants article 1 concerning the right to self determination for all Peoples?

MB: Okay, UNPO has been founded 15 years ago in order to raise the voice of the oppressed Peoples and Nations and the Unrepresented. Mostly to subsidize on an international level issues that are not covered by the United Nations Instead of having one chapter in the United Nations regarding self determination the United Nations never put into force the right of Peoples to for their own best interests.

FW: Is this because of themselves, although they ratified that Covenant and that article because the countries have no interest in the……

MB: They not only have no interests, they are totally against the right to self determination.

FW: Is that not an anachronism then? They ratified it, yet they are against it!

MB It is not the first example in the history where a constitution….. I can say for example a constitution written by Bucharin and adopted by Stalin during the most dark times under Stalin it was just a piece of paper. Unfortunately for the UN they are part of the Magna Carta of the UN and they are still just words on paper. The beginning of the activity is to defend the right of the nation on their sovereignty and obviously there is no chance for anyone in any state in any part of the world to exercise the right to self determination. When a state or an association of states is counterposing the right of their sovereignty… I can mention an example, there is a committee of states, twenty members of the UN which are evaluating awaiting admission of non-governmental organizations. Many non-governmental organizations have not been admitted as NGO on the ECOSOC of the UN because of the reason of the accusation by the member state to try and disrupt the sovereignty of a state, which obviously has nothing to do on the activities on humanitarian, or human rights or educational activity of NGO’s. This is the practice. Differently it seems to me that it is correct for peoples, nations, minorities around the world calling on the UN with respect to the principle of the Magna Carta of the United Nations and the principles of the constitutions of many states, but the reality is pretty bitter and different and today never like today the possibility to exercise the right to self determination has been so largely denied. After 9/11 you can simply say it does not exist anymore this possibility UNPO is always acting in representation of instances of its own members but it is not always recommending to have strategy and tactics that will consent to acting of the old and just request but to enlarge to widen the perspective, because if not the risk is that simply calling for the right to self determination is something amazing, something unrealistic. It is something which does not leave you with any possibility to dialogue, to discuss this with a member. We recommend a member always to be patient and reach tools in order to promote their just rights. But I should say, the times are really not favorable.

FW: Considering the situation of patience the Naga Peoples are in, also a member of UNPO, in what way can the UNPO encourage them to have that patience and to enable them to come to some sort of settlement which is conducive to both parties?

MB: I would like to recall something that has been said by the Dalai Lama regarding the Tibetans who are kindly hosting

FW: The founders of UNPO

MB: One of the founders yes of the UNPO and the question is, in a world which is becoming quickly and aggressively more interdependent

FW: Aggressively? MB: Aggressively because, I don’t want to become now about the global economy and so on, but it means that there is aggression in front of local populations in front of local economies in front of local interest. On this situation the question of independence is fading away, it is turned down as an element of discussion by the international community

FW: Are you referring to the European Community where independent states give up some rights for the greater good of all?

MB: Yes the EU is a very slow process. In order to be patient and comparing it to the Naga negotiations, the first treaty signed by the first five, six states forming the European Union was in 1954 and even today in the year 2007 the European Union is sharing something but they are totally independent and many a time counterpose many important things like in policies of defense foreign affairs, economy and so on. This is a very slow process, but the same process is happening very slowly in Latin America, with America Sur. There is some leading going on in South East Asia with Asean. It seems the world is going to interdependency. That means that I think that in not a very long term it will go from a single state that will determine the situation of autonomy, federalism, independence to a regional question.

FW: Are you not too much talking about the economy then? Because in this region of Europe there are quite a few peoples expressing themselves differently from each other. You are an Italian, I am a Dutchman. We may think alike on certain issues, but we are form different cultures.

MB: Yeah but today I am feeling much more European than Italian. Perhaps 30 years ago I felt myself more Italian that European

FW: Is that not possible because there is peace rather than conflict, conflict is what is spurring this on? MB: No Europe has nothing to teach anything to anyone. There is nothing in that, Europe was the field of the most cruel war, the first and the second just one century and was the field of the most criminal dictatorship and so on. Europe was the field of Stalinism and Nazism. That means the last century was one of the most harsh and cruel time in humanity. But what is happening today would be seen as a middle path, a half way this association of states. Usually when we are talking at UNPO what is possible today in a very difficult situation then we are referring sometimes to Edgar Moran the father of Europe; it’s when you have no chance to solve one problem in a small context, the only chance you have is to enlarge the content. I think the question of the negations of the Nagas and India is not only a micro-regional question. It represents a point of interest in the international community obviously it is not simple to reach the requirements on the international level. I think 6 years or 10 years of negotiations could seem like a long time, but you see what is happening in some peaceful process, sometimes it takes 26 years. Obviously looking for a peaceful solutions requires more time than having an agreement of cease fire and so on, But, I am always referring to India as one of the growing and upcoming economies, a growing and powerful political role, not only in Asia, but on the world level. We should expect that in five six years that India is one of the protagonist effective four in power like USA, European Union, China, Russia and sitting at the table where major question are decided so that it will even requires more responsibility, a different kind of political  responsibility to India. I always say that that will help to improve the situation that the brackets are referring to as an internal situation question of India. I am confident that time is working for a more rich economical growth and for a more effective democracy in India as well as increasing the chance for the Nagas to following the path step by step that will lead to a peaceful settlement, an agreement in which the respect for the identity, autonomy and the self determination of Nagaland and the Naga people will be complemented as a constitutional element in India by law. It is difficult, but it could be a final objective a final target. It seems to me that proceeding step by step will help the partners to identify better themselves to become confident. I think the years passed were not years spent for nothing, but it will require more time, all the other possibilities are very well known and I don’t think that today, going back on a more harsh confrontation will help the peoples of Nagaland, for after so many years of difficult life, fighting and so on, the present war will even be more harsh without possible success. The world has changed a lot the lats 15 years and right or wrong and like any of our members have to face the new world and have to consider that what could be a problem of one of our members means that usually there are six or seven sharing the same problem but in totally different areas and in totally different situations. This is one of the points which makes the UNPO a tool, sometimes a powerful tool for our members in reaching an international dimension and giving them the chance to be the protagonists in the different parts of the world, not only in their own region. Today there are many problems oppressed peoples are facing, unrepresented peoples who have less rights than the others and are much closer to each other and are sharing a lot of these problems. This could become a powerful tool in order to reach their targets; usually it is democracy, it is the right to self determination. And, even the right to self determination should be considered in the most broad sense, Step by step I would like to refer to Kurds in Iraq; they are enjoying a more or less effective autonomy from 1991/92. They are part of a state but their level of autonomy is pretty close to independence. They never dropped their quest for independence but they are used to talking very plainly and simply, it is not for today. Perhaps it will be useful tomorrow, but today we are working on what we have, which means this kind of autonomy. It depends obviously on what the agreement will be, the point of the agreement that will be reached in the negotiations, but not necessarily it is a step back. 

FW: I have noticed that many ordinary Nagas feel encouraged by being part of the UNPO as it let’s say represents the international community so they see it as that they are not alo0ne in their quest. On the other hand considering that it takes long this cease fire without, for them, any tangible results and at the same time India, through its forces and other ways of dealing with the situation like the divide and rule continues, either by spreading money or by propping up adversaries so the ground situation for the Nagas is deteriorating. On the one hand their way of life is enhanced, because from too much pressure because they are still under occupation but on the other hand they feel many forces work against them, psychological warfare for instance, so asking them to have a long breath how can you prop their feelings up?

MB: First to open the borders so to have free circulation of people’s ideas, capitals. That could be an intermediate point in the negotiations. I don’t know if it has been raised, but Nagaland is not a land that you can go visiting, for reasons of security and so on. It seems to me that in a democratic country rules regarding security can be changed. It is a pretty non violent request that Nagaland can be reachable for anyone in the world. That is the first step in my opinion.

FW:  So take it out of Isolation

MB: And the second is that it could be a process with a third part mediator. I am referring to the example. It took so many years, regarding Northern Ireland. I am referring to the senator Mitchell Commission, in order to process and setting negotiations based on decommissioning

FW: So third party mediation?

MB:Yeah, but not necessarily it should be a state. Usually a third commission in the case of Senator Mitchell was a production of a major Ngo, a think tank foundation and then there was the support on the issue by president Clinton, but the idea started in a different circle. I am referring to George Soros I am referring to other foundations, I am referring to all other Non-Governmental Organizations. The entire process started in the eighties and then in order to get some result in the beginning of the year 2009? But, I think to open the world Nagaland, getting free circulation of people, ideas, capitals, having a process starting with decommissioning of weapons of armies and so on, having an international monitoring of

FW: Decommissioning of weapons?

MB: Decommissioning on the level of non-violence because the security is a concept that is including everything but decommissioning level on the confrontation of a situation, even in a state of cease fire of negotiations there are some accidents, mostly on the harsh confrontations of some micro situation. Having a long path on decommissioning, step by step, situation by situation, the level of the use of violence or any acts in the field could be another step. I am referring to those two issues because they are not part I think of the core negotiations, they are not part of the negotiations regarding the half independence status, full autonomy, the mutual federation of the asymmetric federation or any other possibility. It can be seen as good will, waiting for the time and sometimes that is necessary…

FW: This goes for both parties?

MB: Yeah waiting for the time for sometimes that time is needed for the situation to be ripe to get a mutually satisfactory result. This part can help the people, with the Nagas to be confident and can even give the Government of India something that can improve the situation. In my opinion those issues like many others that have nothing to do with the main issue of the negotiations between India and Nagaland could help to create the atmosphere, the mutual respect and an improved loyalty upon keeping the word given during the negotiations. That can set a better background…….

FW: But doesn’t that mean that for instance the Indian Government should abolish the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is a tremendous tool for them to …..

MB: This could be a decision that should be taken by the Indian Parliament and executed by the Indian Government, but a process, in my opinion, of negotiating some particular steps which are not part of the package regarding the self determination, or autonomy or independence could open the way. I am referring to the context which is too strict, it does not give you any way out, we are trying to get some partial results which can improve the situation. That in turn can lead to a general improvement of the background of the negotiations. In my opinion any facilitator who can improve the level of the negotiations between the Nagas and the Indian Government will be helpful. Time is required because we need to be confident of changes in India, international and internal as even the Naga People are changing. We are in a world where changes are happening very quickly, but in my opinion there will be be a good option of setting a larger a broader negotiation including that would be a negotiation per installment of different issues, because there is always the risk is that, if the negotiations come to a dead end, there is nothing more to say and that means we mean to …

FW: That point has been reached some times

MB: Evidently, and if they stopped it is a part of the negotiations. I think that there will be, in my opinion, more argument that could be discussed between the two parties and in my opinion there good be room for a facilitator but only who dedicates only on a particular issue, so that it will enlarge, broaden, the support that some facilitator could have by the international community, by some states, by an association of states without their involvement in a question that following the international law is seen by India as an internal question and by the Nagas as a fight for freedom and self determination. But everything of every, more facilitation, can be helped by the international community, by the non-governmental community, by single states. It will preserve direct involvement and it will lead to a general improvement, partial, minimal sometimes, but any steps going in the right direction of a peaceful setting we need to welcome.

FW: A critic would say it is all nice and well to talk from behind the desk and overseeing the situation you are quite right, on the other hand the dynamics in the country with the people concerned, let’s take for instanced the soldiers of the Naga Army. They do nothing all the time during cease fire, they have guns and they are not always that educated and see money floating around and they have no part in it. These are human beings that do things, so what I am trying to say is that even if you are full of goodwill it is not always possible for an organization to sit still and let things develop that go beyond your control.

MB: It would be a potentially dangerous question mostly for the Naga People, the Naga Civilians, the Naga leaders

FW:Naga civilians get in trouble with the Naga Army!

MB: What I suggest, hmmm what I suggest!, what is my idea is when an army spends a lot of time with nothing to do it……

FW: In peace time or relative peace time

MB:…should be converted into a civilian form or state. This process should be initiated in my opinion by the Nagas but must be facilitated by the Indian Government. When I told you that Nagaland needs to be open I meant that it will help for a military structure or  a military activity to a civil government activity. That, in my opinion, is happening in all the situations in the world and it is always most difficult, but an army which is not active will run the risk of becoming more attentive to their own interest instead of the interest of the people….

FW: So crimes are committed and will lead to uprisings and irritations…..

MB:…..I don’t want to go into details but anyone knows many examples like that in the world. I think that the process to start to converting military cadres and forces into civilian is absolutely necessary and responsibly the Indian Government should open the way and facilitate this process. I told you that open the borders to ideas, people, circulation of money and capital it will help the Nagas even to start. That would be another point. I am not aware of negotiations usually having different stages like they have public stuff or no stuff, but this is another form of decommissioning, but it is necessary for India. If the chance to Nagaland to be visited by citizens from all the world and could go there must be confidence in the process of which the Indian Government is part. I think that obviously there could be a security progress it could be progress of opening the Naga borders and so on…….

FW: The people again, though they enjoy relative peace, tension is still felt so what you from here, from the Hague, on the international level say to encourage them to maintain composure so there will be a time eventually?

MB: What I have to say is first the question of education, the Nagas could invest all their possibilities to the highest possible education to its young people. Secondly to dedicate more time to the creation of a society in which a little enterprise and other forms of economical improvement will be accessible and to be more known to the International NGO community, by the press and so on.

FW: So they have to invest in becoming known so they exist for the world outside?

MB: In information, in education so that it will trust, confidence to the young people, as always the young people are the future of a country and so they have less bitter memories of the past and more freshness and hope for the future. That will help in order to have a positive approach, even knowing the fact that time required for a peaceful settlement can be longer than expected.

FW: But the process will gradually improve the situation?

MB: In my opinion there are evident changes and chances for India for the Nagas to get more chances in the future, because India is becoming a protagonist and one of the leading countries of the world. The Nagas can be seen in a macro regional Asia not in a micro and then everything changes. If you enlarge your map, you can see that what can be very important in a small map, it is really less important and less dramatic in a larger map. There are many problems in the area, there is Burma, there are many others, but even there a little step now in which it seems it could be, is not a short time process, but we should be confident that situation can change in Burma, that the situation can improve in South East Asia. And, even China is changing, not in the direction of becoming a democratic country for sure, but into something of a strange hybrid, but the changes in the protagonists in the region, will reflect, find some reflection on the situation regarding Nagaland and even on the negotiations between Nagaland and India. The world is becoming smaller in some way and perhaps what is happening in Nagaland will be a point of major interest on the table much more than today for sure.

FW: So to internationalize the case would be helpful for them

MB: Yes but we require a total improvement of the information on the situation. You need to get access if not it is difficult. You cannot internationalize a situation which is, not now, in which you cannot get access.

FW: Yes that is why I said it is not known and so it is the chicken and the egg

MB: Yes, that is not helping, to keep that situation under partial control

FW: It is also a policy of India not to open it up so it will not be known?

MB: I don’t know if the Government discussed the issue in parliament. You know we are in a moment in which generally in the world the question of the war on terrorism is on the top, sometimes even having disrespect of its own rules of many states, not talking only in Asia. I am talking in Europe, I am talking in the USA, I am talking in the United Kingdom, I am talking in Italy, in other countries. The major democracies issue should be more attentive with respect to the rights of citizens, with respect to the constitutions. I think that some paranoid approach on the question of terrorism could be too much and the cost and the bill paid by the populations and by the individual rights are too high in order of the results to achieve. But this is not a question regarding India Nagaland, it is more or less an analogy which is regarding the entire world. I think that citizens need to pay more attention to their government and the governments need to be much more attentive in respect of their own rules. That is a general question. It is not an Asian or South East Asian question

FW: That is quite a good one to end the interview with that the government should respect its own rules

MB: That is the general question. I told you always security is involved, the question of security and army present the major risk that there are parts unknown even to the government of the country that it happened too much frequently in western countries recently and I think that major democracies should carefully pay much more attention to such stuff generally.

 FW: Any word for the Nagas to prop them up to wait out their time?

MB: I have already discussed but soon I hope to have a meeting, the usual one at the beginning of the season.

FW: I am talking now more on the ordinary people because the ordinary people will read this

MB: Always on the run and having meeting with governments and conferences the question of the Nagas is one of the top questions of UNPO. Sometimes it is difficult to explain who the Nagas are, there is very little knowledge and awareness of the task staff, that is not facilitating. I think that if there would be a chance that I would like to discuss in order to get a kind of European parliament presentation on the question of the Nagas, because that can involve many European political forces to suppose, considering something. UNPO did something similar with some question in the European parliament in the middle and at the end of the nineties, but considering some experiences that we had for other members that it is pretty positive to have this kind of conference and presentation. There is very little knowledge on such a situation and it is not facilitating to talk with such an argument. I think that can be done and we can improve the knowledge because information is always paving the way, better information means better chances for the people.

FW: So, may I take this as a suggestion to organize a conference on the Naga Peoples?

MB: I think that it is useful to have a kind of conference regarding the Nagas, the process of the negotiations, the situation of different aspects in some part of the world and that it will facilitate in the Nagas to realize even what is the general idea of being here, what are the suggestions. It will help them. It will help them to feel that they are part of a world that is larger than their region or is larger than India….

FW: ,,,,Larger than India..

MB: And it will consent even other people or members of parliament, others, to be more interested on the question of the Nagas. On the other side, India it will know obviously when there is more interest in the situation and there will be more interest in India in  which the situation could be improving instead of deteriorating

 FW: Mr. Busdachin thank you very much  

Make the Naga issue known to the world

Frans Welman is a photojournalist, writer and documentary filmmaker based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Presently, he is the secretary Nagas International Support Center (NISC). Starting out as a clinical psychologist with a preference for cross-cultural psychology, he used that focus to start a journey eventually carried him on the doorstep of Nagaland. Working in the prominent Dutch anthropological Royal Tropical Museum, education department, for quite a few years brought him the conviction to stand by indigenous peoples’ right to self determination, so the people can achieve self-rule. Ngathingkhui Jagoi had an opportunity to catch him online at Yahoo chat room and put across some questions related to the Naga issue recently. Excerpts:
Ngathingkhui Jagoi: Please tell me how you first came in contact with the Nagas?
Frans Welman: It was 1988 I meet General Mowu in London. He told me about the problem being faced by the Nagas. Later, I met the NSCN-IM collective leadership when they attended a meeting an UNPO meeting in 1992. They also told me about the Naga people’s movement for self determination and I found the Naga issue very interesting. So I decided to tour the Naga homeland and I did. I am a photographer and I shot quite a good number of photographs about the Burmese Nagas during my visit at Lahe village…..
NJ: But you became a great writer instead …. (lol)
FW: No, I am not… (lol)
NJ: Ok, judging by the reports generating from both print as well as electronic media, you or for that matter, NISC is often viewed as a mouth piece of NSCN-IM. How would you like to straighten this up if you are not?
FW: Mouthpiece of the NSCN-IM? Yes, I have heard that before but never saw any substantiation for it. Of course it is an easy way to sideline an unwanted critique. Yet, self respecting organizations would take the trouble to base their accusations with facts and arguments. The Naga International Support Center as described in the book the ‘Forbidden Land’ came into existence only because of the fact the right to self determination is denied to the Nagas. In the book ‘Out of Isolation’, soon to be published in Delhi the history in the conflict between the Government of India and the Nagas is described and that includes the rifts among them which began with the 16 point agreement and the emergence of Nagaland state, grew worse by the Shillong Accord, more so by its implementation of disarmament and the foundation of the NSCN, which in turn later split into the NSCN Khaplang after a bloodbath inflicted on what is now the NSCN Isak Swu and Th. Muivah based on disagreement and unwillingness to remain one front against the enemy India.
Because several factors in the assessment of the history play important roles and it is a fact that only the NSCN-IM is talking on the basis of achieving an honorable solution to the conflict, naturally the NISC supports the wish of the Naga Peoples so their right to self determination in this is honored.  However, NISC supports that wish for all Nagas, yet NISC knows not all Nagas want to be free of the dominance of India. They have their own interests at heart and as essentially Free people can vent them openly. It is different however when one imposes on the other and thus cease to be representative of the people at large. Though even those Nagas profiting from the divide and rule instigated and perfected by the Government of India when asked what they actually want their answer in majority is clear cut; we want to be free, left alone, independent, sovereign. The main problem is that because of this successful divide and rule, less and less Nagas think that is feasible and leave it up to the prime NSCN-IM to do them the honors. So, concretely NISC cannot be a mouthpiece of the NSCN-IM for the simple reason it is critical on all Naga organizations where human rights are concerned which includes the right to self determination.
NJ: GOI always claims that she inherited land of the Naga from British. What is British’s reception to this? Is Britain responsible to this long tracked up conflict between Union of India and the Nagas if they do accept this charge?
FW: After the decolonization process The British are not involved much and do not show much accountability to what was predicted by their own people in the field and what came out afterwards, the protracted war between the invaders as the Nagas feel it and the Nagas who insist on their right to self determination. Just before the handover the Nagas declared independence and sent the declaration to the United Nations, UN. Though the UN acknowledged reception of that declaration it did not act on it. The British who could have had a hand in the United Nations along with India, in  reality had no jurisdiction to hand over, if they disputably did so, the Naga Hills to India and Burma. In fact only a relatively small portion of the Naga lands were ever administered and the other lands were called by them the Un-administered areas of the Free Nagas.
After so many years of being kept in isolation hardly a Briton knows about the Naga Peoples and it would be very difficult to get the Naga issue on the agenda’s of the Government of Great Britain or parliament, the House of Commons. Yet, through the Parliamentarians for Self Determination, and NGO, there is a possibility to pursue this so that in the end Britain comes out with what it actually did which makes India so certain it handed over Nagaland to the Union of India.
NJ: You are informed on what is happening in ‘Nagalim’. What is your impression on the visit of the Collective leadership? Would you please commend on home front situation pick up during their stay, from off shore view, I mean?
FW: At first with their first visit to their homeland Nagalim, it looked like many Nagas were delighted. Their homecoming after some 30 years of exiled life was felt as inspiration and encouragement. But, positive developments for the Nagas are often followed by negative ones. The divide and rule policy has been stepped up and in a relatively short period of time that was successful in deepening the rifts between tribes, organizations, people. When they came, many hoped the ceasefire would turn into real peace talks, talks that would lead to a long awaited solution, the solution to be free of India. That did not happen during their stay and this time it has been as long as nine months already. Without peace in sight trouble in Nagaland is overwhelming, recent killings are incomprehensible and the credibilities of many are under pressure.
The question now is; is it because their presence their Naga adversaries stepped up their attacks to undermine their authority, or is it because the Government of India feels the heat and wants to do its utmost to discredit them through using their divide and rule tactics? It is difficult to assess properly but speaking on my own behalf, I should say that the GoI on the basis of the ‘Look East Policy’ and geopolitical issues is trying to do good and bad. The GoI wants the conflict solved without losing face, so the hawks in the GoI want to smash the Nagas and now use divide and rule tactics while the doves like to open up the Northeast to South East Asia and need a peaceful springboard for that. In this turmoil, this power wielding the peace talks take place and the NSCN leaders as in Nagaland. Both the good and bad forces are at work and the Naga leaders have no weapons but the people themselves to fight the psychological warfare which has been stepped up since they set foot in India and more so when they came to Nagaland.
NJ: The progress of the talks seems lethargic, why, according to your observation? Please suggest how both parties can behave in order to make the talks progressive.
FW: The question is simple, the answer is not, for in the absence of policies it is difficult to fathom the Indian Government. We can try to find their objectives though by studying what they have done and reason about that. I have noticed before that at the onset of the conflict the first Prime Minister unleashed the war on the Nagas primarily because he felt insulted at Kohima when there to meet U Nu of Burma. Overseeing things three things make it thus difficult for the Government of India to concede anything to the Nagas: one is the matter of prestige the dwarf standing up to the mighty giant, the dwarf capable of resisting nevertheless. Two is the geopolitical situation with China and so India feels it has to have its borders secured and three I feel that India in expanding mode now economically feels overly confident and cannot think of conceding anything much to what it sees as an insignificant people which has extra ordinary demands.
Yet the right to self determination in view of the GoI’s stand if it is at all to be acknowledged and worked on during the talks when it is not left to just the GoI and the Nagas. The right to self determination is part of the covenant of the United Nations, article one, and so the international community should be involved in the talks for peace. Nagas are part of the international community and the legacy of the British should be examined, appraised and juxtaposed against the right to self determination. When things have come that far an amicable solution can be worked out, so that the Indians will leave Nagaland but will have forged a strong bond between them and have become friends on several mutual point of interest and cooperation. If that is not done playing for time would only destabilize the Naga Society more which in the end leads to disintegration and so it will be easy for the Government of India to annex Nagaland for good.
NJ: Now, cease fire extension is subject to progress of the talks; improvement of ground realities at home front (in Nagalim, to be on Naga side) can be symbol of progress, do you see any sign of improvement? What might possibly lead to dead log in regard to ‘indefinite’ duration?
FW: No, I do not see any sign of improvement; in the recent past there has been one significant one which I thought could lead to a solution, but it did not materialize. This was the recognition of the history and the situation of the Nagas by the Government of India, a prerequisite for the NSCN-IM to conduct the talks as they have stated in their proposal a few years ago. And, as I have pointed out further progress is not made for while at the same time talking about peace during a cease fire destabilization if perfected. I think however that the word ‘indefinite’ was chosen well for it refers to the idea that the ritualistic talks on the extension alone consumed much time. Now both parties engaged in the peace talks can only talk peace and hammer out a path to achieve that, if they fail to do so, the peace talks will be abrogated.
NJ: Enlighten outside supports to Naga rights to self determination, please. Is UN official recognition of world indigenous peoples’ declaration under serious consideration? What are the changes with the term ‘self determination’ recently reviewed? Please enlighten.
FW: It must be a coincidence that while writing answers to your questions the United Nations on September 13, 2007 adopted the Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a breakthrough after some 20 years of discussing in the Human Rights Council by the Indigenous Peoples. And, I show you the article in which the right to self determination is enshrined:
Article 1. Human Rights
Indigenous peoples have the full right to all human rights recognized under international law;
Article 2. Equality with Other peoples
Indigenous peoples have equal rights and dignity with all other peoples including freedom from any kind of negative discrimination;
Article 3. Self Determination
Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination. This means they can freely determine their political status and identity and pursue their own economic, social and cultural development;
Article 4. Strengthen Cultures
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their cultures and systems while at the same time having the right to participate in the Canadian society if they so choose;
Article 5. Belong to a Nation
Every Indigenous person has the right to belong to a Nation
The NSCN-IM is a member of the UNPO and recently I interviewed the secretary general on your question and so I refer you to that publication
NJ: World powers especially US & Britain are not prepared to sever their bilateral ties with India in spite of Naga’s political reality. What fate is in store for the Naga when Naga’s faith in them is ignored or, what is the other option for the Naga? Please suggest.
FW: To recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples those World Powers you mentioned do not have to sever ties with India. They can talk to India diplomatically and encourage that country to come to an honorable solution. Those powers only ignore the faith of the Nagas because of these two things:
Firstly, the Naga issue is internationally judged as a domestic conflict, it is regarded as something India should deal with. Of course when the situation goes out of hand and it is obvious that that country has violated international laws, committed state terrorism, or even genocide, the international community could intervene. But, because India has been capable keeping Nagaland isolated, like no journalist can freely enter the region, and because India is a big power, a big player, itself now, that international community knows very little about the fate of the Nagas.
Two – It is in the interest of the Naga Peoples to be known to the world and this irrespective if the Nagas think they are ignored on purpose or just by way of not informed well enough actively. So, it is my suggestion to the Nagas to become known to the world, for I think that in that case the Nagas become more equal partners to the Government of India in the Peace Talks. In the Netherlands we have this saying: to be unknown is to be unloved.
Although it is admirable and laudable he Nagas have been able to stand up for their rights for so long, in the end, the big power – the elephant will trample the small one, the mouse, to death if no other interventions on how to prevent that are taken. So, I call on all Nagas, their organizations, civil and military ones, to do their utmost to be known in the world so the Nagas can take their rightful place among the peoples of this earth and can avail of their rights. In doing that they will create the situation by which they will no longer stand alone, but will know others are there to aid them in protecting their rights.
NJ: Lastly, many Nagas feel that with the presence NSCN-IM, there is ‘botched up’ instead of ‘step ups.’ How would you like them to behave at home front?
FW: Though I realize it is simple to say this, I would like the NSCN to behave true to its nature, in accordance with its principles.

source:Imphal Free Press

19/09/07

Interview by Oken Jeet Sandham with RV Kulkarni

My main job is to ensure that ground work is mainatined for smooth dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM)
By: Oken Jeet Sandham
 

The Chairman of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) and Cease Fire Supervisory Board (CFSB), Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni said his main job is to ensure that the ground work is maintained so that the dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) proceeds without any ?hiccups.? Without any waste of time, if there is any complaint of violence created by any of the factions either in civilian populated areas or amongst them (factions), Gen Kulkarni would rush to the areas interacting various sections of society besides cautioning leaders of both factions not to repeat such act of violence. Talking to Oken Jeet Sandham at his Official residence at Kohima, the General made it one point very clear is that he would render his service as Chairman of the CFMG and CFSB with absolute ?impartiality.?

Excerpts from the interview:

Oken Jeet Sandham: Gen Kulkarni, can you tell me the major achievements you made towards cease fire functioning in Nagaland especially after you have taken over the crucial Chairmanship of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) dealing with the NSCN (IM) and the other Cease Fire Supervisory Board (CFSB) dealing with the NSCN (K)?

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: I have assumed the Chairmanship of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) about two and half years back and I am the first Chairman to be located at Kohima. I think everybody desires that the Chairman should be able to continuously monitor the progress and ensure implementation of the mutually agreed upon Ground Rules of the Cease Fire pact. It was left to me to evolve a process which was something no precedent as such. So I create a procedure of mechanism. Initially, I had handled only the NSCN (IM) for few months but subsequently when the NSCN (K) also signed the Cease Fire Agreement with the Government of India, I am dealing with them also. Initially, there was lot of doubts as to how I could handle both the groups. But I had to ensure that both the groups feel confident in the process. And I have to ensure that I am absolutely impartial and unbiased while dealing with them. I have been also attending to issues they are raising independently sometimes. And I do see a perceptible change in the environment and my contribution is to ensure that the ground work was maintained, so that the dialogue with the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) which is well on the way could proceed without any hiccups.

Oken Jeet Sandham: But the recent public uprising against the NSCN (K) in Mokokchung town and also the incident in Tuensang district where angry mob lynched NSCN (IM) cadre have taken the general public by surprise.

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: I think Mokokchung incident had perhaps taken place because of the very presence of the NSCN (K) leaders and its cadres within the heart of Mokokchung town. I think it was causing enormous amount of trauma to the local people. It was not something which erupted only in the recent past because the people had reacted so aggressively and violently. I think their presence definitely not something which ought to have taken place initially, because it has been going on for 10 to 12 years. It is not something which happens overnight. The reasons I don?t need to go why and how it came about. I am also aware that there are agencies and organizations that ought to have reacted and perhaps they didn?t do it appropriately, adequately and timely. And I think, ultimately, there has to be something or somewhere the whole reaction would have to come out into open. And it was such a spontaneous reaction from the people. But it was not something that somebody had ignited fuse. The fuse was there already. And it was hastening on that particular day and in that particular area. I think it was good enough by itself where people really felt enough is enough. But the Tuensang incident was different than that of Mokokchung one. I don?t think it has any correlation to the Mokokchung incident. Yes there was certain amount of misbehavior by some of the cadres, not in the matter of dictate or direction, but they are adamant. But the people?s reaction to that was not violent to that nature. I think what happened to NSCN (IM) cadres, something happened on the spot. But it is not something to be equated to what happened in Mokokchung.

Oken Jeet Sandham: As Chairman of the CFSB, have you ever discussed with the NSCN (K) leaderships that such type of incidents might take place if their presence continued to be there in civilian areas?

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: Please look the way it was in Mokokchung. So close to the police point, General Secretary of the NSCN ((K), Kitovi (Zhimomi), has been staying there. I have been visiting him and cautioning him of the type of their presence. It is something which is going to cause problems for everybody including them (NSCN-K). In fact, in my last meeting in the formal meeting of the CFSB with them on August 6, I had categorically conveyed that presence of armed cadres in Mokokchung, Chuchuyimpang and in that area which were reported to me must be removed forthwith. It is not acceptable either as per the agreement or the rules or otherwise. I can say that it is not acceptable to me but I can say you must get out. But physically to ensure that they get out is not within my power. I don?t have any separate tools or agencies to ensure that. And this I have made it very clear in that formal CFSB meeting also. But it was not only after the incident, earlier every time also, I had interacted with them. I said that this type of presence in Mokokchung is something going to create disaster sometimes. Therefore, it is not that I have not taken note of it but since it (presence of armed cadres of the NSCN-K) was there for years and years, problems have to be looked very differently.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Do you think there are loopholes on the part of the civil administration towards such issues?

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: I don?t know whether we could point finger to any agency because there are various agencies. But I think, the very presence of the armed cadres not being attended to. Therefore such an enormous impact of the people of Mokokchung was there and I know the people of Mokokchung very well as I was there 20 years back. I know many of them personally and individually. And they had been telling me what exactly how they are going through that. When I was telling to NSCN (K) leaders, there was no postitive response. I think there were not one or two agencies or a group or organization to which we could finger at.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Even NSCN (IM) functionaries sometimes accused of Security Forces of providing security to NSCN ((K) General Secretary, Kitovi Zhimomi?s residential areas in Mokokchung.

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: I think, apart from the fact, it is very difficult to prove to or leave to. I will tell you that this kind of accusations is the perceptions. And why the perceptions came about. If an armed presence is accepted to be there in Mokokchung at the hearts of the town, I think, it becomes the type of perception in the minds of the people not only the NSCN (IM). Because it has been accepted and tolerated. In what form and how they are continuing to be there for such a long time without any interference. That is what I said to finger at someone is not appropriate.

Oken Jeet Sandham: We have heard incidents in Zamai village created by NSCN (IM) cadres and very recently the presence of cadres of the outfit (NSCN-IM) numbering about 40 in Chizami village; both are Chekhesang villages under Phek district.

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: I have been to Zamai village in December last year. I had interacted with the Village Council Chairman and other people. I had interacted with all the neighboring villagers also in that area, besides I had been there when the incident was reported. I had indicated to the NSCN (IM) that their presence in this area had to be removed forthwith and they did respond positively. So I had been interacting with the Chakhesang peoples in that area including Chakhesang Public Organization (CPO) leaders. I also met recently leaders of the Chakhesang Mothers Association (CMA). To all of them, I said one thing that if you accept the presence of a group—B or C group is ought to make an effort to step in. And it will lead to problem for the people. I have been cautioning this and it is very unfortunate that it is not being understood and appreciated in that area. They said that this is Federal area (Federal Government of Nagaland-FGN), how can NSCN come. I said there is no area which belongs to anybody. I think the problems in Zamai and Chizami are the fallout of this particular thing. I have been insisting that no area could be set for NSCN (K) or NSCN (IM) or Federal.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Is there any sign of reduction of insurgency related violence in Nagaland after you have taken over the mettle of Chairmanship of both CFMG and CFSB.

Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni: The violence between the factions remains fluctuating but confrontations between the various groups and the security forces or the government agencies reduced. Ever since I came as Chairman, every faction leader was trying to say that, look; we have signed cease fire agreement with the Government of India but not with the other group. I think, on number of occasions, various NGOs approached me. I said that it is the NGOs that should also prevail on the cadres of various groups to look at each other as friends, brothers and sisters and not as enemy. Although, there are tremendous amount of efforts of the Government and non-Government agencies trying to reconcile among themselves (factions), the fact graphs of the incidents among the factions still keep fluctuating. But the violence with the Government agencies showed considerable declining.

Interview by S Baruah with Adinho Phizo

NNC is the Body Politic of the Naga People
1. What is your party’s stand on the ongoing peace process between the Government of India and the NSCN (I-M)?

The Naga National Council (NNC) is the supreme representative body of all the Naga communities. In the affairs of State, the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) is responsible for internal system and national security, whereas under Naga Constitution, the president of the NNC is entrusted with the exclusive executive independence on external affairs. Furthermore, NNC has been immutably entrusted with the historic national mandate in 1951 which is vested in the president of NNC, to uphold Naga sovereignty and also power to delegate or authorize a person or persons to initiate international relations. Nevertheless, only the endorsement of the president of the NNC, international agreement becomes valid.

The ‘ongoing peace process’ will have no relevance to the conflict between Naga-land and India. It simply exposes India’s indifference to its unremitting militarized tyranny in Nagaland. Following an abortive coup d’etat in the late 1970s, the so-called National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) earned its notoriety for killing and terrorizing Nagas. Any attempt to install the self-proclaimed Marxist leaders of the so-called NSCN (IM) with no popular support, no history and no mandate, in Nagaland will be seen by the Nagas as a brazen interference in Nagaland’s internal affairs. It is a futile exercise which is not the first time the Indian Government attempted to subvert the Naga National Council and the Federal Government of Nagaland.

2. Do you think the Government of India’s approach is sincere?

The longest international conflict in modern time, pursued by India against Nagaland is totally inconsistent with Indian post-independence international image. Historically, the two countries had nothing in common, and throughout the entire period of the British rule over South Asia, the Nagas alone had no written treaty or agreement with Great Britian. And prior to the British colonial rulers granted independence to British India in 1947, the Naga leader AZ Phizo led numerous Naga delegation to meet with emerging independent Indian leaders for bilateral talks with the aim of establishing mutual understanding and respect between the two peoples. In none of the many talks with the Indian leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, C Rajagopalachari, Ali Jinah, Gopinath Bordoloi etc. there was any suggestion of Indian political ambition to deny Nagaland independence.

The shift in Indian policy become perceptible after Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel began to consolidate modern India nation State. At first various veiled threats were used to intimidate the Nagas to join the new Indian Union. It was followed by blatant provocation and hostility directed at the Nagas by neighboring Assam Chief Minister Bishnuram Medhi. Then came the invasion of Nagaland in 1954 by the Indian army.

The Naga leader AZ Phizo gave the Naga political vision to thwart Indian attempt to annex Nagaland and with great determination and sacrifice, the Nagas brought about the international cease-fire agreement between the Federal Government of Nagaland and the Government of India in 1964. Upon the unilateral abrogation of the cease-fire agreement by India in 1972, the ongoing international conflict resumed.

Relations between the two countries reached its nadir in 1975 following the Indian Emergency Rule; officials falsely announced to the world that India had reached ‘accord’ with the Nagas. The fact is the Government of India proscribed the NNC and FGN as ‘illegal’ organizations on 31st August, 1972. Then with the first taste of victory by modern Indian army over the helpless Pakistani army in the then East Pakistan, the Indian army unleashed a reign of terror in Nagaland. This led the Nagaland Peace Council brokered a peace dialogue between Naga representatives and the Indian Martial law officials to alleviate the interminable sufferings by Naga civilians. In India itself, the rule of law was suspended under ‘Emergency Regulations’ in June 1975. When the two sides met at Shillong, India in November 1975, the Indian officials proposed to ‘delink’ politics from military activities. The Shillong talk set aside the international relations for the Prime Minister of India and the President of the NNC to decide at a later date. Intriguingly, it was India’s own undoing that the basis for an accord did not exist. Rightly, the alleged ‘accord’ was never ratified by the respective Governments. Meanwhile the Nagas always look forward to the day the Indians will quit Nagaland.

3. Has the Indian Government ever tried to contact your party for talks?

There has been no direct communication recently between the NNC office and the Government of India while India brazenly exploits Naga internal affairs. Admittedly, both sides know from their various levels of contacts, the position of the other side, perhaps the Nagas are better informed. As for the prospect of resumption of contact in the near future, the bodies of opinions suggest that the Indian politicians have yet to come to term with their own history before able to look beyond. On the part of Nagaland, the Naga National Council and the Federal Government of Naga-land stand ready for definitive talk at any time India is willing to explore meaningful dialogue.

4. What kind of support does the NNC enjoy amongst Nagas now?

Unlike a political party, the Naga National Council is the body politic of the Naga people. Every Naga is a member of the NNC. In fact, the Naga people viscerally agree they belong together as a people and as a nation. Therefore, if one were to apply the word ‘support’, in the case of the Nagas, it also has a subjective meaning. Naga democratic tradition encourages people who have mouth to speak out in public meetings. So in common with any free society, there is bound to be more then one political opinion in Naga society. But irrespective of their political views, the vast majority of the Nagas express their loyalty to the NNC. Over the past five decades, India found Naga society impenetrable on account of the extraordinary unity in support of the NNC and having a unity of purpose.

5. How can you/do you control the movement from London?

Where the NNC office is located is not so much importance because the role of the office is one of entrusts and not ‘control’. As an organization the NNC literally has no tangible structure to house its operation. The chain of command at every level is linked with the people and those serving the nation can read the invisible structure. The answer to the above question lies in good line or communication and information thus able to maintain a dynamic consensus by informed choice.

6. What is your stand on the issue of integrating territories by Nagas from Myanmar, Manipur, Assam?

In ancient time, the Nagas were known by their distinct independent names, for instance, Angami, Ao, Khiamnungan, Konyak, Lotha, Rengma, Yimchunger and so on. Each independent Naga region had different neighbors, Ahoms, Burmese, Kacharis, Kachins, and Meiteis and yet according to both Naga and their neighbor’s traditions, they had clearly delineated borders.

Soon after the British obtained suzerainty over the Assam Valley by the Treaty of Yandaboo, on 24 February, 1826, the British intruded into the independent Angami territory in January 1832. The Nagas fiercely resisted the intrusion and it led to a protracted intermittent battles fought almost every year for nearly 48 years, from January 1832 to November 1879. When the British representatives made peace with the Nagas on 27 March, 1880, the Naga noblemen refused to enter into a treaty or agreement on the perfectly reasonable ground that they could not read what was written. The significance of the verbal understanding was that Naga sovereignty was not surrendered to a foreign ruler. On the other hand, the British arbitrarily altered some part of Naga territories ostensibly for ‘administrative convenience’.

Historically, the Naga people and neighboring people in Assam, Manipur and Myanmar live side by side independent of one another. There is no evidence that suggest contentious territorial dispute between the Nagas and the neighboring people of Assam and Manipur in India and Myanmar. Should there be a need for international territorial adjustments in the future, it will be done with full consultations between interested parties so as to reach mutual agreement.

*** This interview was made available by the FGN(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

Interview by Oken Jeet Sandham with Adino Phizo

NNC warns India from entering into any pact with NSCN (IM) on Naga problem
By: Oken Jeet Sandham

(Adino Phizo, President of the NNC and daughter of legendary Naga freedom fighter AZ Phizo, from her London Office answered questions asked by Oken Jeet Sandham, Journalist from North East India)

Although two-day Delhi peace talks between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) concluded with positive note by touching some of the substantive issues to pave the way for solving the protracted Naga political problem, the Naga National Council (NNC), the oldest Naga political organization that spearheaded for Naga political movement in mid 40s has strongly cautioned Indian authorities from entering into any agreement or treaty with the so-called National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM).

Any move by the Center (Government of India) to impose on Nagaland a stage-managed political settlement will be a retrogressive step unlikely to enhance the international image of the BJP Government, Adino Phizo, President of the NNC and daughter of legendary Naga freedom fighter AZ Phizo, from her London Office answered to questions asked by Oken Jeet Sandham, Journalist from North East India.

The 71 years old NNC supreme explained that by negotiating the peace process with the outfit (NSCN-IM) that carry no mandate of representing Nagaland, has exposed their (Indian leaders) disdain to address the fundamental cause of the five decades of conflict between Nagaland and India.

Adino also said India had never been shy of undermining the NNC authority and the FGN and further expressed surprise on India’s failure to learn about the Nagas especially that President of the NNC is entrusted with exclusive executive independence.

Therefore, without NNC endorsement, no agreement or treaty can become valid, she said.

The followings are the excerpts from the interview:

Oken Jeet Sandham: What is your comment on the ongoing talks between the Indian Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah of the NSCN (IM) in New Delhi?

Adino Phizo: The ongoing stage-managed talks between the Indian Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah of the so-called NSCN (IM) in New Delhi, is utterly bizarre and an insult to the intelligence of the Naga people. The Government of India has no excuse to pretend it is negotiating a peace process when the outfit (NSCN-IM)invited for talks in New Delhi as it (NSCN-IM) carries no mandate of representing Nagaland. It once again exposes Indian leaders disdain to address the fundamental cause of the five decades conflict between Nagaland and India.

Oken Jeet Sandham: The Government of India seems to be giving more emphasis on the NSCN (IM) for settlement of Naga political problem. What do you say on that?

Adino Phizo: Following an abortive attempted coup d’etat to overthrow the democratically elected Federal Government of Nagaland, Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah gained notoriety for the massacre of national leaders and patriots in 1979/80. From the beginning their sole objective was to seize power and impose a neo-Marxist style dictatorial rule over Nagaland. The two self-proclaimed leaders with their mainly Tangkhul henchmen from Ukhrul district in Manipur, India, have since killed over 2000 Naga civilians and many people in neighboring territories in the name of “Nagaland for Christ”. Every Naga know that without logistic support given by the Indian army, for instance, safe haven in “designated areas” under Indian army protection, rations, communication facilities, and transport, the so-called NSCN (IM) terrorist outfit cannot operate in Nagaland.

Nagaland national establishment, the Naga National Council (NNC) and the Federal Government of Nagaland, have thwarted Indian government attempt to annex the country in the past. So in spite of the current blatant provocation by India, Naga democracy will overcome Indian bluff and come out even stronger.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Does Isak and Muivahs coming to Delhi on Indian Passport indicate that they are indirectly accepting solution within the framework of Indian Constitution?

Adino Phizo: In the affairs of Nagaland, Isak and Muivah have no political standing whatsoever and are irrelevant. Neither is privy to Naga democratic decision process. They tried to seize power by criminal means but failed. Any move by the Government of India to enter into an unholy alliance with their terrorist outfit to provoke a civil war will be unfortunate for India itself.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Do you think Government of India can settle more-than-fifty-year old Naga political imbroglio with the NSCN (IM) without involving other groups fighting for the same cause?

Adino Phizo: The longest ongoing international conflict of over fifty years between Nagaland and India is unequivocally about Indian aggression. It is an international conflict involving two nations, albeit unequal. No self-respecting nation will allow its international standing trivialized by another. The so-called NSCN (IM) terrorist outfit has no status to represent Nagaland. Whatever is India’s intention in the extraordinary farce taking place in New Delhi, it certainly has nothing to do with resolving the international conflict between the two nations.

Oken Jeet Sandham: As leader (President) of the Naga National Council (NNC), the oldest and only organization spearheaded for the Naga freedom movement, what do you observe sometimes all these political talks, peace processes, etc. going on with the Government of India without actually involving your organization (NNC)?

Adino Phizo: History always appears to favor the strong and can be seen as unforgiving for people without a leader with clear political vision. The Nagas see around their nation, former independent kingdoms, and independent people, all lost their separate identities. To be a nation state, Nagaland has complied with every international recognized steps. It is Indian international bully and militarized tyranny in Nagaland, preventing the Nagas its rightful place among the international community.

The Nagas led by A.Z.Phizo declared to the world their intention to stay independent on 14 August 1947, one day ahead of Great Britain granting independence to British India. It was followed by the historic voluntary national plebiscite conducted by NNC and held on 16 May 1951 to determine the wishes of the people on Naga nation and national independence. Unlike a political party, NNC is the embodiment of all Naga communities. Against all the odds, the Naga people delivered an overwhelming 99.98% verdict in favor of both Naga nation and staying independent. The Naga democratic mandate has been immutably entrusted with the Naga National Council. Further understanding reached with the “unadministered” Nagas in the East by the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo led to the establishment of the Federal Government of Nagaland on 22 March 1956.

Over the years the Government of India has never been shy to undermine the authority of NNC and the Federal Government, but it did not lead them anywhere. If in the past fifty years, India has not learned something about the Nagas, on foreign relations, the President of NNC is entrusted with exclusive executive independence, and therefore, without NNC endorsement no agreement or treaty can become valid.

Oken Jeet Sandham: What would be your reaction and move if Government of India is prepared to enter into a final political settlement with the NSCN (IM)?

Adino Phizo: Any move by the Government of India to impose on Nagaland a stage-managed political “settlement” would be a retrogressive step unlikely to enhance the international image of BJP government. The Naga people will not be responsible for the consequences if India attempt to marginalize the democratic Naga establishment. It will be a gross violation of Naga sovereignty.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Do you think that the Reconciliation initiated by Naga Hoho on December 20, 2001 has yielded any positive result so far?

Adino Phizo: Naga Hoho and a number of similar NGOs have been seeking to politicize their activities and prescribe their politically naive ideas as a panacea for peace and reconciliation. In the real world, national policies are decided by appropriate authorities and not by parties, groups and NGOs. As a nation, the democratically elected Federal Government of Nagaland as far as will decide what is in the best interest of Nagaland practicable.

Oken Jeet Sandham: As far as the Indian Prime Minister’s assertion is concerned, the integrity of the country is non-negotiable. How do you see sometimes on what way you can settle Naga political problem?

Adino Phizo: The Prime Minister of India will no doubt be able to evidence his assertion on the integrity of the country at sometime. So also, will the Naga experts based on historical facts. Unlike the ongoing stage-managed inconsequential talks, the government of India need no introduction to the genuine Naga government, namely, the Federal Government of Nagaland, and on international relations, NNC has the final authority. If India believes in democracy, why deny Nagas democracy?

Oken Jeet Sandham: Has the NNC changed its way of approach and thinking as compared to the ones pursued by late Naga Legendary freedom fighter, AZ Phizo?

Adino Phizo: There is no change in NNC philosophy, organization and policy, charted and pursued by the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo. On his acceptance of NNC Office in December 1950, the Naga leader waste no time to structure the organization. He formulated the ideology of NNC based on Naga democratic tradition of equality, freedom of expression, private ownership, justice and compassion. The organizational structure was kept simple with only the national President, Vice President, and no permanent secretary. Henceforth, Naga nation take precedence over different Naga communities and only named Regions identifies former communities. Each Region is headed by a Regional President, who is responsible for the sub-Regions, and every village within the Region. All Naga communities are represented in NNC at the Central Executive Committee, it is the body which co-ordinate national policy. Naga national policy is based on consensus that laid down: upholding Naga sovereignty, maintenance of traditional democracy, integrity of every Region, non-violence and friendly relations with all nations.

Under Naga Constitution, NNC retains responsibility for national policy and the exclusive executive independence on foreign affairs is vested with NNC President. There is some truth in the saying that a Naga who denies NNC is not a Naga.

Oken Jeet Sandham: In what way, Nagas can be brought under one umbrella?

Adino Phizo: The Nagas viscerally agree they belong together as one people and one nation. No Naga is ever forced to join Naga nation. In other words, the cohesion of Naga society transcends ideological and political differences.

In addition to Indian militarized tyranny in Nagaland, the Government of India use psychological weapons to drive a wedge between Naga society but the vast majority of Naga people refused to be swayed. In the propaganda war, the arrays of options at its disposals were; the media – both print and audio/visual, disinformation, and planting false evidence. It is bound to leave some scars for many years.

Inevitably, a few vulnerable Nagas fell victim of Indian bait and began to believe that the Naga society is ridden with “tribalism”, “factionalism”, “fractious” and worse, “fratricide”. A critical analysis of most of such allegations will find the evidence cited bears no resemblance to the specific claimed incident.

Admittedly, the so-called NSCN (IM), led by the perfidious Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah began to sow the seed of factionalism and fratricide in Nagaland in 1979/80. Until then such insidious influence were almost unknown. Without constant support given by the Indian army, their odious outfit would find they are unwelcome in Nagaland.

Oken Jeet Sandham: Are you prepared to talk to the Government of India if invited?

Adino Phizo: The NNC Office has always been ready for a sincere bilateral talk with India. The conflict between the two countries will not go away until NNC and Indian government could reach a definitive understanding based on mutual respects. India cannot indefinitely evade taking the hard decision.

From the very beginning, the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo repeatedly offered diplomatic solution. Regrettably, Indian aggression in 1954 forced the Nagas to defend their freedom. Over the years more than 100,000 Nagas, including children, women, and elderly persons, perished as a result of Indian army brutalities. Any reasonable person cannot help but ask with who India has been at war in the past fifty years?

Oken Jeet Sandham: Has the ‘Bedrock of Naga Society’ published by the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (I) damaged to the Naga political movement?

Adino Phizo: The publication mentioned above typically reflects identity crises found among members in the puppet government. It is symptomatic of split personality, someone while a Naga and yet seeks to please India, at the same time yearn to be accepted by both as normal. Over the years, India and its few loyal followers have tried everything to annex Nagaland and failed. An Indian party propaganda has no relevance to Naga stand.

Oken Jeet Sandham: How can you make friendly relationship with neighboring communities like Assamese, Meeteis, Arunachalese, Myanmarese who are sometimes afraid of Naga political settlement thinking that final settlement would affect their territorial integrities?

Adino Phizo: Ancient Naga history is based on oral tradition. Some noble families could trace back family lineage and tradition to 52 generations. By all accounts the independent Naga communities most of the times maintained friendly and peaceful relations with neighboring kingdoms and chiefs, for instance, Ahoms, Meeteis, Kacharis, Kachins and Burmese. Chronicles kept by the rulers of neighboring people concurred with Nagas accounts.

Before Great Britain granted independence to British India in 1947, the Naga leader A.Z.Phizo separately met and invited the leaders of Assamese, Garos, Khasis, Lushais, Mikirs, Abors, Mishmis, Tangkhuls, to join the Nagas and declare their independence. All declined to join explaining their difficulties.

In Nagaland’s conflict with India, the Naga army rarely strayed into neighboring territories for a fight. Nagaland is defending its freedom and not at war with neighboring people. The impeccable discipline of Naga army of never targeting civilians anywhere received praise even from the Indians.

Any future bilateral talk between India and Nagaland concerns violation of Nagaland sovereignty and illegal occupation of Naga territory. On the question of Naga territories arbitrarily removed in the name of “administrative convenience” by the British in the 19th Century, NNC is optimistic that with full consultations between interested parties, based on historical facts, a fair and amicable solution can be found at a later time.