Sep 06, 2005

Naga: Peace Talk with India

The armed revolt between India and Naga People so launched assumed a very serious and highly alarming situation initially which could not be dealt with effectively by the local Administrations of the then District of Naga Hills and the Assam Governme
Untitled Document
By now it is quite a well known thing to all as to how the "Naga uprising or movement" was originated and how ultimately it turned to a "revolt in arms" against the Government of India under the leadership of A. Zaphu Phizo which resulted to heavy bloodshed and loss of lives on both sides, and how the insurgency so began had escalated in very alarming proportions in the four hill districts of Manipur, namely Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel, and also how the armed uprising induced others who form several of such revolutionary parties in the valley area of Manipur, Assam and other northeastern States with their insurgent activities ever on the alarmingly increasing proportions. The Naga uprising launched in the early 50s under the banner of Naga National Council headed by Phizo was aimed for an independent and sovereign country of Nagaland of their own.

The armed revolt so launched assumed a very serious and highly alarming situation initially which could not be dealt with effectively by the local Administrations of the then District of Naga Hills and the Assam Government under whom the former was a district and therefore the services of the mighty Indian Army were immediately pressed in to assist the civil administration who (the Indian Army) soon brought the highly alarming and extremely critical situation under control forcing the revolutionary members of the NNC to go underground who were then known as Naga Hostile Groups (NHGs) and their leader, Phizo to escape out to London where he lived as an English citizen under the care of one Reverend Michael Scott till he died there. Since the Naga people of the District underwent many untold sufferings due to the armed uprising the moderate group of the Nagas under T. Shilu Ao etc. ultimately realised the impossibility of achieving the goal of having an independent country of their own outside the Indian Union from all points of view and therefore they came out immediately over-ground and negotiated with the Government of India as a result of which the latter very seriously granted the Naga Hills District a full fledged State within the Indian Union which came into being with effect from 1st January, 1963 with Shilu Ao as the first Chief Minister of the State.

However, the NNC under some of their staunch leaders continued their armed insurgent activities vehemently sticking to their original aim of achieving the total independence of their own even by having gone to the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and China and received guerilla fighting training and sufficient quantities of sophisticated arms and ammunitions, who also however later on in the year 1976 came to an agreement of a cease-fire pact and deal, a shrewd move initiated by the then Governor of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura combined, Lalan Prassad Singh (LP Singh), a brilliant retired ICS officer and former Home Secretary to the Government of India and accordingly an accord under the name, Shillong Peace Agreement or Accord was signed in between the members of the NNC and the representatives of the Central and State Governments. The agreement was however straightaway rejected by a group led by Issac Swu, Khaplang, Thuingalen Muivah etc. who thus walked out from the NNC group pioneered by Phizo and formed a new Naga Revolutionary group called the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in the year 1980 and continued their armed rebellion in demand of an independent and sovereign State of Nagaland, this time much preferred to be called as Nagalim, the former two personalities as the chairman and vice-chairman respectively and the latter as the general secretary of the newly formed factional organisation. The Issac Swu group rejected the Shillong accord challenging the leadership of Phizo and his diverted policy saying that it was some sort of a surrender and "sell-out" of their stand for a full fledged sovereign independent Naga country. The splinter group was however fractured again soon into two groups - one known as NSCN(IM) group under Issac Swu and Muivah as the chairman and general secretary respectively, and another as NSCN(K) group under the chairmanship of Khaplang, an Homi Naga of Burma border area as their opinions regarding having of a peace talk again with the Government of India proposed by Issac-Muivah suffered dissension from the Khaplang group. However, an agreement of Peace-Talk in between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) group was agreed upon soon when the two leaders of the faction, namely Issac Swu and Muivah met the Prime Ministers of India, P.V. Narashimha Rao in Paris earlier and later on in New York in 1995, H.D.Deve Gowda in Zurich in February, 1997, Atal Behari Vajpayee in Tokyo in 2002 and as such Peace-Talks between the two parties had since been going on with all their hostilities against each other totally suspended.

The Indo-Naga Peace Talk which thus had been going on since last 8/9 years is aimed for finding a solution or formula between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) group for keeping a permanent PEACE in Nagaland and its adjoining states, and the same is claimed by both the leaders of the Naga Revolutionary faction, the NSCN(IM), namely Issac Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah being weary of remaining further as revolutionaries and insurgents have now agreed or prepared to give up their more than five decades old demand for a sovereign independent Naga State ceasing all their hostilities against the Government of India, instead they now prefer to the creation of a Naga State of a much bigger territory with more autonomy within the ambit of the Indian Union.

Creation of a Naga State of a much bigger territory is possible, as is well aware to all, only by "slicing-off" the areas of the adjoining states, namely Manipur, Assam and Arunachal inhabited by indigenous hill tribes some of whom ostentatiously or under great threat opt for coming under the coverage of the umbrella of the so called generally applied appellation "NAGAS" (which is actually a misnomer being a name borrowed and applied only very recently) including a large chunk of areas of Burma (Myanmar) inhabited by such people. According to the history written by many learned historians all the indigenous tribes and people who migrated from outside and settled in the region in the early days belong to various groups and clans who sprang out from the same Mongoloid stock, many of whom still prefer to be called or known by their own indigenous tribal names. In Manipur, there are as many as 50 different types of such peoples of indigenous origin and by now a good number of all these sections of people of the hills have settled in the valley living side by side quite peacefully in full communal harmony with the Meiteis even with free social intercourse amongst themselves disregarding the very strict "barrier" that was there once during the very recent past on the grounds of untouchability, religion etc. - the majority of the Meiteis being orthodox Hindu and almost all the hill tribes Christians. Thus there is an inseparable and very close relationship amongst all the sections of people of Manipur that had been existing since very ancient days, particularly in between the Meiteis, the Tangkhuls, the Kabuis, the Anals, the Chothes, the Chirus, the Koms, the Koirengs, the Thangals, the Mao-Marams, the Marings, the Kukis etc. The indispensability of such a close and ancient relationship arose from the factors of having many affinities and similarities in their cultural and indigenous habits and fashions of living and also in many other aspects, in particular of economic relationship.

According to the traditional belief of the Tangkhuls it is said that in an early period of Tangkhul left his home for the valley who became a king there and who later on came to be known as PAKHANGBA, who is a dynastic god or deity of the Manipuris still worshipped ardently by all of them - this belief has no doubt some relevance regarding the appearance of Pakhangba in the valley, as according to the puyas (purans) of the Meiteis, Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (Jabista), the great is described to be a "heaven born" person. Since there is actually no such a thing as "heaven" in the high space physically the above proverb should have meant only to a high place i.e. a hill or mountain.

Considering all the above facts it should now therefore have no hesitation to say that all the indigenous tribes, who during the primeval days had settled in this most ancient and sacred land, Manipur, sprang out from the same primitive Mongoloid stock and had been living as the inseparable "brethren" of a big and one family since last so many thousands of years in full "communal harmony" from the beginning till date very much unlike that of the serious communal-disharmonies frequently occurred due to "communal feuds" and "head-hunding encounters" amongst the tribes of Nagaland against each other on account of land-disputes etc. during the very recent days. Such an extra-ordinary feature of Manipur is really a very unique thing that one finds in her as quite a peaceful state despite her subjects are woven by conglomeration of so many different types of groups or sections of people speaking different dialects of their own, Meiteilon, the dialect of the majority group, the Meiteis being their "lingua-franca" for binding them as ONE people living in the same motherland.

Despite having been and is an unique land where the people of all sects had been and are presently living very harmoniously and cordially as mentioned above, it is indeed very unfortunate that a great unrest and feeling of anxieties have been created in the minds of all the people by the staunch move of the NSCN(IM) for tearing away almost all the portions of the age-old territory of Manipur and the same for merging with the neighbouring State of Nagaland for which the revolutionary group has very stubbornly put as the main agenda of their peace-talk that is being carried out currently. The move of the NSCN(IM) group in this regard is considered as ONE very much diverted from the main aim and object of the Naga Revolution as a whole, and such a diversion adopted by them now at this very much late stage is also seen as a very "flagrant move" and very much against their accusations made earlier against the NNC and the grounds on which they had defected from them.

However, the sigh of great relief that one gets is to find that the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the Home Minister, Shivraj Patel have given their firm assurances, to the delegates from Manipur who met them just recently, of not disturbing the existing areas of the north - eastern States, particularly of Manipur and that the question of "unification" of all the Nagas for the purpose of disintegration of the areas has been rejected outright by the Government of India. Such a firm decision taken now by the Government of India is considered by all as a very wise, bold and correct stand on their part which could be said to be a decision not deviated at all from the one that was already taken earlier by the former Prime Minister of India, late Jawaharlal Nehru who stood very firmly against such an early demand for disintegration of the areas of Manipur for forming a greater Nagaland put up by a delegation of Naga leaders headed by late Phizo describing the demand as "impracticable, unacceptable and unwise" when he announced his disapproval of the move in the Lok Sabha. In fact, such a move has been seen by many as a very dangerous one which is very likely to end only with disastrous results as, any act of redrawing of the existing geographical boundaries of the northeastern States, particularly of the State of Manipur, on the basis of "demographic" and "ethnicity" is definitely "fraught with grave dangers" of bringing more "troubles" and "turmoils" of very very serious and unprecedented nature, greatly affecting the already existing peaceful "communal harmony" amongst the people, particularly in the State of Manipur where the majority of her people, both the sects, the Meiteis (including Pangals, the Muslims) and the Kukis have started feeling great unrest because of the persistent great pressure being put in by the NSCN(IM) group adopting all sorts of tactics, inducements and threats for materialising their "hypothetical demand".

Lastly but not the least, the very pertinent question that may be asked very seriously and frankly is that - when the lawlessness problems created by the insurgency originated from the Naga Revolt in the north-eastern region are on the ever increasing trend, especially by the terrorist activities of other various ETHNIC groups of insurgents operating rampantly making the State administrations quite helpless and ineffective to deal with them how it could be assured of "heralding" a really peaceful and normal situation by fulfilling the aspirations of one group only, namely, the Nagas by conceding to their rather hypothetical demand of forming a greater Nagaland or Nagalim State at the cost of other neighbouring States? Also it is no denying the fact that despite the restrictions imposed under the cease-fire agreement rules between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) group they are reportedly still carrying out rampantly the highly illegal acts of extortions of money in terms of lakhs and crores of rupees from the civilians and the Government establishments.
It is in the context of the very pertinent question mentioned above that one fails to fully appreciate the goodness, in wider interest and scope, of the ongoing process of the so call "Indo-Naga Peace Talk" - a well advocated and publicised, no doubt, but verytricky and knotty move that has been taken up by both sides with great venture(risk).

Source: Naga International Support Center