A loud mouth in high gallery

Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd), Forest Colony, Kohima.:    11 Nov. 2013

This is one amongst the “loud mouths” who stood on “the high gallery” set up by ACAUT on the 31st October 2013 at Dimapur. Mine was perhaps the loudest voice in terms of volume even if it had no appreciative content from the stand point of NSCN (IM). My point of distaste lies in the NSCN (IM)’s indirect manner of demeaning others who may not share the same trend of thoughts as they do. So let me loud mouth some more. I had made a public statement that if I had misrepresented truth that day I would gladly and humbly render a public apology once pointed out to me. That offer still stands.
However unclear, for the very first time the political philosophy, the perception of who NSCN (IM) believes they are and the direction being taken by them on the subject of self-determination is filtering into the public domain. Whether we agree or disagree, this is a very good beginning for a thought exchange on both sides and a blessing for us all. I doff my hat to them for this. For much too long a time, the God given gift of brain has been lodged in the trigger finger of the NPGs. That had made them dangerous ‘thinkers’ to barter our lives trying to express what we believe in. This slight shift towards a desire to reason is a welcomed breath of fresh air, knowing well that the finger is still not too far away from the trigger. The NSCN (IM) surely understands that no one’s opinion is sacrosanct in this world. We are expected to contend with the conflicting views and find a common path that serves the honest will, not induced will, of the majority if we hope to succeed.

 

This exercise has never been undertaken on a broad base appraisal and there has been a great deal of confused misgivings. In as far as I am concerned I have maintained a healthy regard for NSCN (IM) at least for taking negotiated settlement to the forefront which no other NPGs have been seen doing other than to raise tax. Having said that, it is about time that some  of the existing critical questions that have been plaguing the minds of the people should be shared and cleared with sincerity in the absence of malice. My role here is  a mere messenger carrying the people’s confusion that has often been heard, for enlightenment, in the hope that  the intended desire for REASONING is not misplaced where the messenger lands up becoming the target in the shooting range instead, which I certainly do not relish. I do this for the people as much as it is necessary for NSCN (IM) if they truly hope to have the Nagas behind them.

1. Many a time there has been reference made to the “National principle” of which the public at large is not aware. What is this National Principle?

2. Without mincing words the Naga National Struggle began with NNC/FGN as a united Naga Movement which the Government of India could not fragment until Shillong Accord appeared in the horizon which Mr. Phizo failed to denounce. The honourable National duty of all the senior national leaders of that era should have been to impeach Mr. Phizo in a legitimate way and not allow our national house to collapse around us. Instead we set up a conflicting parallel organization that introduced infighting and from then on we have been steadily climbing down the hill.  Today Naga Tribal Council (NTC) has done exactly what NSCN did in the past. Instead of salvaging Naga Hoho which was a legitimate official forum of the Nagas of Nagaland and creating a Pan Naga platform for all Nagas from other States which also is a needed forum, NTC was more absorbed in creating another entity which now is on a collision course with the other NGOs and within each individual tribe.

 

 

We Nagas do not believe in history and therefore have been condemned to repeated it plain and simple. Now NSCN (IM) is banning NTC for doing exactly what it did in the past. We as a people have been blessed with a complete lack of patience and foresight, so complacently content with digging our own graves just to identify ourselves as leaders. Coming back however, NNC was the only Organization which had the true mandate of the people. No one can deny this fact. NNC (Accordist) still mislead the people as National Workers after their capitulation. They identify themselves as NNC “Accordist” and in the same breath say Shillong Accord did not exist. This is the faction that has no further reason or legitimacy to continue in the National Movement. Their very name defines them. This kind of tomfoolery still finds acceptance in some Naga loyalists but most Nagas are waking up to their reality. The point that needs cool contemplation is the existence of NNC (Non-Accordist), people who did not accept the Shillong Accord. From a very technical stand point they are the organization which still has a legitimate linkage with the plebiscite of 1951. So purely from this technical point of view again, if NPGs were to unify it still has this house to shelter under and let Isak and Muivah lead the united house or anyone that has the honourable support of the majority and revitalise the plebiscite. One tax one Govt. can then have a meaningful conclusion.

3. NSCN(IM) claims they have the National mandate. Many have yet to understand how that “national mandate” was obtained. High percentage within the masses talk of the dissenting leaders being wiped out as traitors before the National Assembly, that was supposed to have been called in Eastern Nagaland, for disagreeing to the formation of NSCN. Others add that even if that was so, the mandate would have been for that consolidated NSCN before its further fragmentation into so many other factions. Necessarily that national assembly’s mandate would have become null and void with the emergence of NSCN (IM) and so many other factions. This is where the fundamental issue as to who are real and who are not the mandate holders when linked to legitimacy for tax collection. None of the NPGs have taken time out to educate the masses. It is incumbent for them to do so now and garner the support of the masses as was the case of the generation that went before us.

4. The most asked question is what kind of negotiation is being conducted between NSCN (IM) and the GOI? Why is this being kept so secret? Whose sovereignty is NSCN (IM) fighting for if not for us? If it is for us, we too are serious stakeholders and we have a right to know what our future is going to be. Is Naga Peace talk being compromised on account of GOI’s inability to sort out the issues of other Tribes in other States in connection to integration issue? These are the festering questions which are in everyone’s mind but keeping silent for fear of guns. Without answering these questions, claiming loyalty becomes a big task.
5. There are more but the final question for this round is: Should Nagas ever get our independence what kind of Government is being proposed to be established? Would it be a democratic one or the present form of the organization with Collective Leadership, one hierarchy without a party system? This too has to do with our future and this issue I had raised in my earlier writings saying “ are we fighting for our independence so as to lose our individual freedom?” Our people, the stakeholders, have the right to know the answers to all the critical question raised from not only the NSCN (IM) but from all the NPGs. We have been lead blindfolded thus far and the time to remove it is rife. The people are searching for a real FATHER. Please clear our minds. This is loud mouth signing off again. God bless. NPN

NTC demands Mathew Rongmei substantiate his claim

Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) is constrained to see an article purportedly given by one Mathew Rongmei, alleged to be a senior journalist and claimed resident of Zeliangrong village in his article appeared in Nagaland Post dated August 18,2013, under the caption “Reading View Points On Rongmei Recognition.”

In his article at para 2, Rongmei claimed that “after last assembly decision to recognized a tribe, the issue which might now see and non issue for the government but the volley of frenzied press releases in media distastefully pent-up a social discomfort…… . If Mathew is an indigenous resident of Nagaland, as a claimed senior journalist should/ought to know the day to day proceedings of the State Assembly since all important deliberations are widely publicized. A senior journalist should give a true and correct picture of his reporting’s and not flatter and misguide to his own fellow Rongmeis who are longing and aspiring to be a recognized tribe in Nagaland although they do not have locus standi. NTC has categorically stated that it is not opposed to giving Rongmeis an indigenous inhabitant of Nagaland State who fulfils the criteria of 1977 government Notification but strongly opposed to recognizing as a Tribe.

NTC as congregation of the aboriginal Tribes of Nagaland, none of the constituent members have come across the Nagaland State Assembly passing resolution giving Rongmeis as a recognized Tribe. NTC therefore demands from Mathew Rongmei to provide date, month and the year when the NTC decided to give Rongmeis a recognized Tribe. Mathew Rongmei has self imposed on the Nagaland Legislative Assembly a thing which has not happen misleading the public. This wrong press publication by an alleged senior journalist ought to be taken to task by the appropriate authority concerned. NTC high lights the press fraternity to scrutinize the misleading statement of fellow journalist and discipline the roguish member to safeguard the integrity of the fraternity. (NTC). NPN

Reading viewpoints on Rongmei recognition

 

Mathew Rongmei, senior journalist, Zeliangrong Village

Muddled viewpoint on Rongmei recognition or warped views on Rongmei recognition that often appear in media seem to have a tale of mythical ‘Pandora’s Box’ which had unleashed all evil forms known to man, but the last thing that came out was the God of Hope. I am sure concerned people will not take umbrage at my personal opinion that the ‘Rongmei recognition issue’ has been taken pretty a binge in public domain to the much chagrin of Rongmei community of Nagaland.

After last assembly’s decision to recognize the tribe, the issue might now seem a non-issue for the government, but the volley of frenzied press releases in media has distastefully pent-up a social discomfort. I do not really want to trade in argument with, or counter anybody’s opinion. But since a write up: “Rongmei Tribe recognition by ‘deception’: NTC” concerning the minority tribe I belong, was published for public awareness and comments, I wish to broach a few things fleeting my mind.

I hope, readers will take it as sharing of ideas in positive, constructive and impartial way and not otherwise. As I was perusing the newspaper over a cup of tea on Saturday morning, I was tempted to read intensely on the Opinion Page so notably displayed the official texts and scanned signatures of chief minister and his cabinet ministers. The contention of the statement is that the state government had rejected the recommendations made by concerned committees set up by it while taking the decision to recognize the Rongmei tribe. The question of rejection or acceptance is only answerable by the competent authority of the government concerned. My point of view is only confined to texts of the recommendations signed by J.Alam, IAS, Home Commissioner, Khanrinla T.Koza, Addl.Secretary (J&L) and Chubasangla Anar, Joint Secretary (P&AR).

If we read through carefully, the texts in two boxes are speaking almost the same and nowhere have they opposed to recognition of Rongmei tribe but gave the government two options. In plain English, the texts colloquially mean either to recognize Rongmeis as (i) Indigenous inhabitants (i.e. Non-Nagas) or (2) Indigenous inhabitant Naga Tribe of Nagaland. And it was left to the government to decide. The text in the second box says, the recognition is not a legal issue but a political decision. The text in the first box uses the word “If.” “If the Rongmei community is given only the status of indigenous inhabitant, the status would be equivalent to status given to non-Naga.”

This does not mean that the committee has suggested the government to grant non-Naga status to Rongmeis. It could equally mean Rongmeis be given the status of Indigenous Naga tribe. Both the boxes tell that there is a vast difference between the two kinds of status but they do not recommend what kind of status be given to Rongmeis in general (that could mean Rongmeis from Manipur and Assam) but they definitely said that only those Rongmeis of Nagaland living prior to 1963 be given the status of “Indigenous Rongmei Naga Inhabitants of Nagaland.

”Thirdly, in the third box, there is a scanned copy of signatures. Out of space allotted to 16 signatories, 12 signatories have signed including chief minister Neiphiu Rio and his cabinet ministers, and chief secretary Lalthara. I really don’t know how the political or bureaucratic experts or social scientists would lucidly interpret the recommendations of the committee report. I have just mentioned what I understand and feel on the issue placed for public comments. I sincerely hope every reader would appreciate and understand my personal opinion without any prejudices but for the larger interests of the Nagas as one family.

A Rejoinder to ‘Nagaland Tribes: The Latest Bone of Contention’

Dr. D.Kuolie, Head, Deptt of Tenyidi

NU & Secretary General, Ura Academy, Kohima.

Reading the write up of Thepfulhouvi Solo in your esteemed daily 9-6-2013 I am compelled to clarify certain points on the question of Tenyimia, Tenyidie and its related issues though this rejoinder for public interest. I will also add those left out vital points of his earlier article published in Nagaland Post on 30-11-2009 as the present article is obviously, an extension of the earlier.

The theory of the writer claimed that the term ‘Angami’ is a corrupted form of ‘kerügumia’ (thief) from Zeliang language ‘kergami’. In fact, the Angami people used it without knowing its source and meaning in the early days. However, during 1970s, this theory was clarified by late John of Viswema. According to him, the British army under Captain Jenkin and Lieut. Penberton, when about to cross Tenyimia country from Imphal to Assam in 1832, they asked the Meiteis, what sort of people lived that side, by pointing at Tenyimia country.

They were told ‘Ngami’ which means ‘perfect/independent people’. The word did not conform to the English language and therefore, it was noted as ‘Angami’. That interpretation of late John had a matching version because the velar nasal sound /ŋ/ never occurs in initial English language. To suit to their language, a syllable vowel /a/ was prefixed to the word to form /aŋami/. That version was accepted by Ura Academy since then. Although, the ‘Angami’ is a popular term till today, it has no other meaning in Tenyidie beyond late John’s version. The continuity in use of the term,

‘Tenyimia/Tengima/Tenyimi’ which originates from ‘Tenyiu’ the name of the forefather of the Tenyimia group was accepted by all units by their historical knowledge. ‘Tenyimia’ therefore, means the descendant of Tenyiu. TPO is purely a reunion of the divided family based on blood-lineage. Tenyimia or Tenyidie is a canonized term and TPO is not seeking ‘Tribal Recognition’ from any quarters. The writer’s claim, ‘Tenyimie consists of a convenient number of Nagaland tribes together with one or more from the outside’ is perfectly in line with his earlier writing, ‘The Khezamas, the Sopfümas (Mao), the Zeliangs and the Rengmas never hitherto took themselves as ‘Tenyimia’. So far to my knowledge, the Tenyimia were in unity-form many a time although irregular, till regular formation established in 1993.

Every TPO units stood firm by their history of brotherhood. despite disparagers existed. As such, the idea of ‘disbanding the Tenyimi Union for the future good of the Nagaland’ is not a healthy suggestion, the fact that TPO is a reunion of the Tenyimia family, which is in consonance to the basis of all Naga society. The formation of Ura Academy too, is on the same base. Rev. J.E.Tanquist instituted the Angami Literature Committee (ALC) in 1939 and approved by the then Deputy Commissioner, Sir C.R.Pawsey. In 1960s, those early educated people who served in various Government institutions at Kohima, were also leaders of respective sub-communities.

Having a common wish to bring the people together, those personalities made frequent meeting and deliberation over oral historical account of our ancestors. Following such mutual understanding and acknowledgement, they resolved to modify the name of ALC into Tenyimia Literature Committee in 1970 and ever after the Angami language was renamed to its original term call ‘Tenyidie’. Nomenclature was further made to Ura Academy in 1971, in which representatives of Angami, Chokri, Khezha, Pochury, Rengma, Zeliang and Mao were all present. Their objective is to develop literature, preserve and promote culture and other aspects of Tenyimia community through academic study. We still have some living pioneers for a living testimony.

There is nothing wrong in adapting the meaningful original term called ‘Tenyidie’ by ‘Tenyimia people’ as Mother Tongue. To clarify another significant point is the misinterpretation of the term, ‘Keviu Ú Ya’. I would prefer to translate it as ‘the good (part) is ours’ rather than his translation ‘the better is mine’. The expression is derived from religious philosophy that denotes the claiming of godly blessing to both the villages/parties during celebration of events like ‘vitho’ (treaty) and ‘sonyi’ (friendly exchange festival). His claim of it as a political wisdom for the propagation and promotion of Tenyimia is far from truth.

The writer claimed that except ‘Chokri’ all other tribes within Tenyimia community have distinct languages and having respective Bible and Hymn Book of the Church. The emergence of such books is mainly the product of the church workers for evangelizing the gospel, however, without understanding the gravity of power of a common language. Dialectal variation is natural to all languages of the world. Considering languages as distinct on the basis of those bible and hymn books is far from complete, and therefore, his theory is not acceptable. It will be a safer attempt to study ‘dialectology’ before jumping into a pool of controversy.

Ura Academy has achieved to certain degree in the development of Tenyidie language and literature for the future benefit of Tenyimia community in general, the younger generations in particular. The establishment of Department of Tenyidie under Nagaland University is symbolically, a genuine recognition by the highest institute of learning. There are regular academic activities including research programs rather than a mere coaching class.
The division of geographical area into administrative set-up is generally the outcome of a political decision that binds to the people.

That is why the Tenyimia community as well as the Nagas remained separate till today. However, Tenyimia community like the Nagas, accepted the transmitted history and shall ever remain a family despite shower of spikes and arrows from any quarters. The writer contributes many valuable suggestions for the Naga future, but his historical interpretation on Tenyimia and Tenyidie is not acceptable. It will be better to avoid application of intriguing politics to confuse the Tenyimia people and Tenyidie.

In response to Thepfulhouvi Solo’s articles

 

By: Dr. R.B. Thohe Pou

It is true that Nagas from other states and nation do not have the same privilege as the Nagas in Nagaland State under 371 (A) even though that Article was part and parcel of the struggle of the whole Naga people. And it is so incorrect for you to accuse the whole Naga tribes outside Nagaland State of trying to share in the privileges enjoyed by the Nagas in Nagaland. You also do not need to feel sorry or worry for the tribes outside your Nagaland State as they have their own land and food to survive. Even if the present Nagaland state becomes a Sovereign state, Supra State, Pan-Naga Nation or whatever that the Naga people may decide – the present Nagaland state will continue to have its own share. No one is taking that away from you.

Why are you so happy and complacent with the present State of Nagaland, which was created in the name of the entire Naga people? If you think the Naga Plebiscite of 16th May 1951 was undertaken only by the Nagas from the present Nagaland state you are terribly misinformed and may need to go through the history of the Naga Plebiscite again. And if the ‘Plebiscite’ were really a matter confined to the present Nagaland State tribes only then it does not represent all Nagas and must be deemed invalid. However, the Indian Govt. is no fool and would not have agreed to the peace-talks without any condition at the Prime Ministerial level if they thought it was an issue concerning the State of Nagaland only.

Just to jog your memory let me remind you that the southern Nagas did take an active part in Naga National Movement (NNM) from the start till the present day. A few prominent leaders worthy of mention here are Late A. Daiho Mao, Late Suisa and Late Sani Dahrii (who was also a Shillong Accord signatory). The Naga Club was formed in 1918 and during the heights of Haipou Jadonang’s civil disobedient movement in 1929 in the Naga Hills, the Naga Club submitted a historical Memorandum to the Simon Commission in Kohima, in which it demanded that the Nagas be excluding from the proposed ‘Reformed Scheme’ of India. Jadonang started a religio-political movement in 1925 to overthrow the British rule in Naga areas. In 1927, he prophesied the end of the British rule, which provoked S.J. Duncan, the then SDO at Tamenglong, to issue a warrant of arrest against him.

By 1930, the movement had spread to all the Naga Hills but Jadonang was arrested by the British in 1931 and later hanged to death. After his death Gaidinliu, his cousin sister who was only 16 then, succeeded him as the spiritual and political leader. However, she was also arrested in 1932 and by 1934 the movement came to end. Phizo moved his base to Burma in 1935 and later returned to Nagaland in 1946. “By this time the issue of Naga Self-determination had well gripped the minds of the Nagas, and public opinion had already been moulded against the continued dominance of the British Indian over the Nagas” (M.Zinyii:1961:11). The NNM was directly or indirectly influenced, emboldened and shaped into the present form by Jadonang, Gaidinliu and the leaders of the Naga Club. A.Z. Phizo, he whom we lovingly call the Father of the Nation came into picture only after the foundation was laid by his predecessors, in the same manner like how the NSCN came into picture after the foundation was laid by the NNC.

The Naga leaders from the present Manipur state closely worked with Late A.Z. Phizo for an independent Naga land. The Naga National League (NNL) also determined and declared to all Nagas NOT to pay house tax to the then Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills, Assam and as a result the Assam Rifles killed three persons and injured many other people during a protest. Afterwards the NNL President, A. Daiho, was arrested and imprisoned at Dum Dum jail in Calcutta. One should never forget that the present State of Nagaland was a fruit of the struggle of the Naga people irrespective of geographical location and one should refrain from trying to suppress the movement whilst remaining oblivious to the plight of Nagas outside Nagaland State. The GOI has poured in several crores of rupees to suppress the NNM and today it appears that your stomach has been too fattened and that you have forgotten the past and present sacrifices and hard labour put in by the Nagas from all the Naga inhabited areas.

It may be constitutionally impossible to share in the privileges of the Nagas in Nagaland State, which they enjoy under Article 371 (A), but it is an insult to the Nagas outside Nagaland State when you make the analogy of the ‘rich man’ and ‘Canaanite woman’ in the Bible as everyone knows who you are referring to as the rich man and the Canaanite woman in the Bible. It is tasteless to say the least.

With reference to your article, “Globally utopian, locally empty” you seem unsurprisingly contented with your retired life devoid of any future hope or vision in life. But today the Naga youth have a dream to live life on a global scale – Nagas may be economically backward but their preferred life style is no less than the people from the developed countries of the world. You may be happy with your retired life with your pot of hard earned money as a former IFS officer but the Naga youths today have a vision and future hope, unlike you. And who are those people from outside the State who illegally collect Tax over the barrel of a gun? We have too many factions and we should not allow anyone from outside the Nagaland State or inside the State to collect tax illegally. But that will happen only if we together bring a solution to the Naga problem.

If Thuingaleng Muivah is not talking about a Sovereign state anymore – the NSCN-K, NNC and other Nagas still are and aspiring to have our Nagas’ Rights to Self-determination. Why have you become so complacent with the present Nagaland State? As a retired IFS officer, you surely have the intelligence to know that a Supra State or Pan-Naga State is definitely possible even under the Constitution of India. It is shocking that you dismiss the same as impossible. If Sovereignty, Supra State, Pan-Naga, etc. are impossible, we have indeed been fooled by the so-called Naga national workers. Why are the common people silent? Why are over ground Naga leaders still morally supporting the Naga national workers? Why are you (we) paying tax to the Naga underground cadres? Naga political issue is not just a Nagaland state issue but it is one of the most serious problems in India and unless the Naga political problem is solved, there will be no peace in NE India or in India. I still believe and have faith in the Naga historical facts and in inalienable right to self-determination.

“The Manipuris claimed all the Catchments Areas of present Nagaland that drained into the Doyang River as their Territory . . . the Roads in Turkey today follow almost the same ancient Road alignment Evangelist Paul walked from Tarsus to Ikonya or to Galatia in the days following the death of Jesus” If there is no such concept as “Consent of the People” and rights of the people and we simply follow the old roads or demarcations of the ancient Kingdom, all the catchments areas of present Nagaland that drained in to Doyang River should be given to Manipur state as claimed by Manipuris and the present Nagaland would have been under Manipuris or Ahom kingdom (Assam today). So are you saying that the present state of Nagaland should be under Assam?

“Some Nagas talk about some SUPRA NAGA STATE or PAN-NAGA STATE. But when not an inch of Assam or of Arunachal or of Manipur or the ENPO can detach into a separate State: forget talking about Supra State or Pan Naga State; they are just Utopia talk” Are you saying that there is no single Naga living in the present States of Assam, Arunachal, Manipur and Myanmar? If the British or Indians had not divided the Nagas using the present artificial boundary and instead decided to follow the old roads how did the present state of Nagaland or the other States or countries come into being?

During this critical period of the NNM with talks happening at the highest levels there will be ups and downs, allegations & accusations, tinged with a mixture of hope and doubt. Naga scholars, intellectuals, right thinking people, etc. can contribute their constructive thoughts and suggestions to improve the present situation and to bring a lasting solution to the Naga political problem. However, planting doubts or creating rivalries and divisions within ourselves will only worsen the prevailing situation. Let us hope for more of the former from such an accomplished intellectual like you.

Clarification to TPO’S accusation

Thepfulhouvi Solo.:    2 Jul. 2013

I was willingly pulled into the “Nagaland Tribes Council” (NTC) move by some young matured Angamis who I highly appreciated for their sacrificial contributions in the effort for a common cause and I felt I should also put in my ‘widow’s might’ into the cause. I expected some rough sea in the journey for the cause if the “Tenyimie” is recognized as a ‘TRIBE’ in the state of Nagaland because “Tenyimie People” is composed of tribes from outside the state also and Nagaland Tribe Council is solely for those of the state of Nagaland only.

Therefore I wrote, (I quote): “To the best of my knowledge, officially Tenyimie (Tenyimi) is not declared a single Tribe, yet once notified, its contents will act like theTrojan Horse and Zeliangrong or ANY non-Nagaland Tribe combined with one or more from Nagaland, can easily be passed off as ‘Nagaland Tribe’ to the ultimate undoing of the Nagaland Tribes of Nagaland. Once the Fence Wall is breached, the Vineyard is not safe from the Wild Boar, -very unchristian language but 5 wise Virgins of New Testament could not share their limited Oil with their other 5 virgin friends in the middle of the night”.

I therefore suggested the disbanding of the TPO and I am not the only one to having such a feeling; some important fellowmen in our Community feels the same. I know powerful people are behind the Organization: I have nothing against them personally. I only felt they would unintentionally and inadvertently find themselves against their own community ultimately just like the TPO President who is against the inclusion of Nagas of outside Nagaland in the Nagaland Tribes Council but in his own Organization he has them included and he calls my view: “perverted version of distortion and destructive Intension” !
I know Keku; I taught him Mathematics in High School, Class 7 in 1960, – large but very good natured, quiet, obedient, of good demeanor, attentive and a nice boy; today, just like the  unfortunate young minister of Nagaland, perhaps he has mouthed, under the compulsion of a difficult world, what he would swallow only with difficulty!

Passing the buck

Khekiye K. SemA IAS (Rtd), Forest Colony, Kohima

It is hard to believe that the Hon’ble Chief Minister is actually serious about requesting the GOI for “a policy of sustenance for the undergrounds”. Since he has repeated himself over and over again on this issue one has no further choice but to believe and conclude that he is dead serious about this proposition. Surely there are people in his cabinet capable of guiding him to think straight or does it consist of a crowd devoid of gray matter that only knows how to parrot ‘YES SIR’ to anything and everything that is proposed by the Hon’ble CM? While it no doubt affords him the comfort of completing his term without an opposition to his leadership, the danger of such complacent comfort could lead to arrogant decisions that may result in detrimental consequence at the cost of the Nagas.

The case of Rongmai Tribe as a recognized tribe within Nagaland and the pending subject of recognition of Mao and the Tangkhul Tribes in a similar manner is a case in reference. The true level of understanding or appreciation of the sentiment of the Nagas of Nagaland is no longer a factor. The well and truly expressed feelings of the Nagas of Nagaland against such a move be damned.

Deflecting his intended decision to a bureaucratic committee’s recommendation, who have limited choice but to toe his inclination, may serve his personal expansionist agenda and purpose but the consequent burden of such an arbitrary decision will finally rest on the shoulders of the people of Nagaland. Nagas should not be fated to this. The powers that be should realizeS that a boomerang impact will eventually be felt somewhere down the line. Wiser mind should therefore tread more cautiously in such matters.

It ought to occur to the Chief Minister that the moment the Factions accept such a sustenance package from the GOI, they might just as well pack up the ‘Sovereignty’ baggage and go home. As is the way of the politicians, they may twist and turn and explain that this ‘sustenance package’ is not a ‘surrender package’ which to me looks like one. This rehabilitation proposition simply boils down to asking your enemy to cease the fight for a while, beg them for food because you are hungry, and then continue the fight after eating the food you get from them.

I leave it to the people to judge the rationality of this proposition because this is exactly what the CM of Nagaland seems to be suggesting. Naga issue will become a non issue. On hindsight is this in fact a short cut game plan to resolve the Naga political problem for good? Taking the path of least resistance is the cowardly way of dodging the problem, but the problem remains unresolved nevertheless. We do not have to travel afar to some foreign land to learn a lesson when we can learn from the experiences we have had in our own backyard.

The status of the Shillong Accordist in the Mission Compound, Kohima and the Transit Campers at Chedema ought to provide us with ample examples of what will transpire even if such sustenance package were to be received from the GOI for the factions. Among other benefits, did the Shillong Accordist not receive Rs.20,000/- each for all their peace camps across the State as a sustenance support from the GOI to run their surrendered establishments back then? Did it stop them from taxing the people thereafter? Remember the Chakabama bridge incident? Similarly, if the GOI were to actually respond to the Chief Minister’s request positively, and the underground factions accept such a package, what makes the CM so sure that the Factions will immediately stop their taxation spree? Greed has no breaks. If the Factions continue raising taxes, which rest assured they will, even after accepting the package, can he stop them?

We will back to square one. So is this a solution or a practicable proposition at all? Yes, I would concede that making the Factions hoist their white flags would ease his nightmare. There is no doubt about that. However, this takes a semblance of a very potent poisoned carrot being dangled before the Factions. Will they take the bite?

What surprises me is the complete silence, the complete lack of reactions from all the Factions concerning this matter. Are the Factions actually hoping that the GOI will follow up action on the request made by the Hon’ble CM so that the 9 Factions of Nagaland can share the loot without assessing the consequence? Knowing the level of greed that permeates within the lot of them, sharing this loot, even if given, will not be an easy task. It may very well spark off another round of fratricidal elimination game on the question of equity disbursement or the lack of it. Instead of addressing a more sinister proposition that will shake the very foundation of the whole National Movement, the factions or at least a faction has been wasting its time threatening and making vain attempts to silence the voice of the people. The Factions seem to have lost their bearings somewhere along the line.

It is my convicted belief that public opinion is a serious weapon that needs to be fully awakened and let loose in Nagaland. This is our last and only bastion. This is a task well within the ambit of the Government of Nagaland to do so. Despite the animated stance of the Government, a ripple has just about begun to emerge where a channelized public opinion has induced a modicum of positive results.

Is this not visible enough already? Is it not enough for us to encourage and strengthen it? Instead of politicking with everything, the politicians should leave the Tribal Hohos alone to restore Naga Hoho to its legitimate place of honour and allow them to independently generate that kind of public opinion that could take us forward. This is an imperative need of the hour. The Government of Nagaland must take a very hard look at the ground reality. Granted, it is impotent against the Factions and their taxation. No one can blame them. This is not a simple matter for anyone, high or low, having to face a death threat tagged to a demand, but thoughts should be spared to reduce its overall impact …generate the force of public opinion.

What is however well within the power of the Government is to control the rampage of the overground organizations that are rampantly replicating the taxation regime of the Factions. There is a whole lot of truth when the Factions point their fingers at the Government and say that they alone are not the reason for price escalation. Not that the Government is not aware, but start with the eye sore sector of all the Police check gates raising transit tax from all the commercial vehicles flagrantly and openly without a care. Clamp down on all the fraudulent Unions, Associations and unnecessary syndicates operating in the commercial centers for every conceivable goods and services, not only in Dimapur but in all the Districts. The District Administration is not blind to it but just won’t raise a finger unless ordered to act. So order it with an accountability tag for a change and mean it. I think it is about time we stop passing the buck.