Outgoing chairman CFMG/CFSB on Naga problems

If sitting here and not being able to prevent or take action, then I have a moral responsibility not to remain in the chair: George
Outgoing chairman of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (with the NSCN-IM) and the Cease Fire Supervisory Board( with NSCN-K and GPRN/NSCN) and former Chief of Staff of the Dimapur-based 3 Corps Maj.Gen(Retd) N.George leaves Nagaland on March 28 after one year and four months in office.

Maj.Gen(Retd) N.George

Maj.Gen(Retd) N.George

On the eve of his departure from Nagaland, the outgoing chairman also held separate meetings with the CFMC of the NSCN(I-M) and CFSB with NSCN(K) and also GPRN/NSCN(Khole-Kitovi).

In an exclusive interview to Nagaland Post at the Police Complex Chumukedima Wednesday, the outgoing chairman disclosed that he decided that it was time for him to move on after election in Nagaland was announced in December 2012.

George indicated that with elections and another government and without any agreement to the political issue, he felt the same situation of clashes and other offences would continue which as chairman, he did not have any power to deal with.

“If sitting here and not being able to prevent or take action, then I have a moral responsibility not to remain in the chair”, he said. He expressed deep pain over factional firing incidents in Zunheboto where a young boy and another old man were killed in November last year.

On his role as chairman, George said the present role of the chairman was only to mediate between underground groups and security forces so as to maintain cease fire. He opined that there was also a need to have an Interlocutor in Nagaland to liaise with the society at large along similar lines with the Interlocutor in Delhi holding talks with the NSCN(I-M).

The outgoing chairman felt that such an Interlocutor in Nagaland could also help fill the communication gap between the Centre and the state government.

He said there were many areas that require action in Nagaland and that Delhi has to give the extra push and hardcore action to address the pressing issues. George felt that if such an Interlocutor in Nagaland was to be appointed, he should be given a hand to do a good job.

Asked about his view on the Naga political issue, George asserted that the biggest problem was that all were only talking from their own selfish interests. He said this itself was the biggest tragedy that has befallen the people’s yearning for peace.

George also shared the view that the elected government in the state has to be kept in the loop over the Naga political issue. He said Delhi cannot realistically arrive at any widely acceptable agreement without taking the state government on board.

He also reiterated that the Centre needed to get more involved with Nagaland and the people rather than with only the NSCN(I-M). George however clarified that he was not referring to the ongoing talks but about problems of extortion and other offences by various groups that continue to plague Naga society.

He cited the case of the Rs.1200 crore SARDP in Nagaland which has ground to a halt due to extortion demands by one underground group. He said reviving the project would also be very costly.
George asked “why are the people silent” (about abandonment of the road project) and “where is the money going to?”.

He opined that Nagaland was being held under a mafia-like vice grip and that this had to change. He lamented that people were naïve to think that “one signature in Delhi” would suddenly transformation into peace.

George described as irrelevant, the much-used phrase “solution” which political leaders and sections of society use as the politically correct lexicon.

He said talks were held only with one faction and that too in secrecy for a solution for all. He asked, can it ever become a solution?

He said it was far from true that Delhi can bring the “solution” as demanded. George pointed out that the change that people want has to come through a common responsibility of playing an active role instead of “taking a backseat”.

George said people in Nagaland need to realise, that unless they speak out, loud and clear against acts inimical to social peace and harmony, change will not happen.

He said in contrast, in Manipur, where the situation is graver, people have resorted to organising seminars to voice their anger openly against such acts.

The outgoing chairman also said the oft-used common concept of “conflict resolution” was sometimes misplaced as in reality, it was an engagement with only a miniscule section of society.

He said nobody knows what the demands are and whether the perceived solution was applicable only to one area or to Nagaland or beyond. He said this went beyond the basics of resolving conflict.

George opined that keeping people in the dark has the consequence of the void being filled by suspicion. In such a situation, he said acceptance of such agreement by a wide majority could become a problem.

According to the outgoing chairman, it would have been different if there was communication with the public on what the demands were in order not to create wide suspicions.

He said even if an agreement was the best available, in the end, making people accept it would be a challenge.

He also maintained that there was no such thing as perfect document or agreement. George said only when it was acceptable to all sections of people, it would be an ideal document.