ONE CANNOT IMAGINE NEW DELHI SIGNING A DEAL WITH ONLY ONE NAGA GROUP, SAYS JB LAMA
TILL the time of writing this, neither NSCN(IM) general secretary Th Muivah nor any of his top officials have reacted to the growing resistance by the business community and students alike to what can be described as the outfit’s “tough taxation regime”. The 18 June Dimapur bandh was followed by a full day’s closure all across Nagaland, and elsewhere on 1 July. Called by the Naga Students’ Federation in protest against the alleged attempt on the life of one of its functionaries in a shootout at Kohima on 25 June involving the NSCN(Khole-Kitovi) faction, something which the latter has denied, it was also against taxation.
(On 4 July, an NSCN(IM) statement said — as reported in the Nagaland Post — that it would not compromise on the illegal extortion activities being carried out by anti-social elements in the guise of national workers and the guilty would be arrested and dealt with sternly.)
What all this underscores is the need for the Centre and underground organisations to strictly adhere to the ceasefire ground rules and hasten the peace process along. Incidentally, after Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio took over for the third term in March, Ceasefire Monitoring Group chairman Major-General (retd) N George resigned without assigning any reason and the post lay vacant till Lieutenant-General (retd) NK Singh took over on 1 July.
Peace is a tall order in Nagaland, and for many reasons. For one, back in 1997 Muivah said the ceasefire “was agreed upon between the Centre and the NSCN(IM), not between the Government of India and the puppet government of the so-called Nagaland state. Therefore, anybody can see that it includes all Naga areas”. Which means integration of all Naga-inhabited areas. In fact, this demand has deadlocked the peace process thus far.
The NSCN(IM)’s seven-point conditions have it that “reconciliation and unity should be based on admission of mistakes, wrongs or crimes committed and asking for forgiveness from victim/victims”. It was apparently directed against the rival Khaplang faction for the bloody mess at the time of the 1988 NSCN split and the Naga National Council for signing the 1975 Shillong Peace Accord. This apart, Muivah is on record as having said that “reconciliation cannot be forced, it must come naturally”. This was in reference to the Naga Hoho&’s December 2001 reconciliation initiative. Little wonder then that it floundered soon enough.
The NSCN (IM) has supported the Forum for Naga Reconciliation — following its formation in 2008, the number of fratricidal killings has come down considerably — but the Khaplang group has opted out after its 2010 split. What makes Delhi&’s task of finding a solution a little difficult is the NSCN(IM)’s firm stand that it will neither accept any negotiating partners nor compromise on its demand for a single administrative unit for Nagas.
On Meitei-Naga tensions following the commencement of the ceasefire in August 1997, Muivah told a Kolkata-based newspaper that "it is a historical fact that the Nagas (of Manipur) and Meiteis are brothers and sisters of the same parents, we believe in it and we are for the oneness of the Meiteis and the Nagas”. He recalled this recently when Manipur&’s titular King Leishemba Sanajouba called on him at his Dimapur camp. During this meeting, Muivah also made a significant observation that “it would be a blunder to believe that India will solve the Meitei/Naga problem… we should understand each other, not blame anyone… mistakes lie with the Meiteis as well as the Nagas and the problem will remain unless there is a mutual understanding between the two”.
One cannot imagine the Centre signing a deal with only the NSCN(IM), ignoring the NSCN(K), NSCN(K-K) and the Naga National Council. So where do the Nagas go?