Nagalim: Talks in The Hague, Hope at Home
Whatever the outcome of these talks, there is wonderful news out of the little village of Khonoma in Nagaland, the home of the late AZ Phizo, founder of the Naga independence movement. A reconciliation has taken place between two major clans, on the one side the descendants of Phizo, and, on the other, that of Sakhrie, once Phizos closest advisor who had a sharp difference of opinion with his former mentor and who was allegedly killed by the leaders loyalists.
After years of dialogue and discussions between leaders of the two clans, Sebi Dolie, the eldest survivor of the Phizo line, took responsibility for the tragedy, apologised to Shimrays family and called for reconciliation. The apology was accepted and an old bitterness, not less than 50 years old, finally buried.
It is this reconciliation, this healing between Nagas ~ at the individual, community, tribal and political level that is crucial if agreements at the highest level are to come together and bear fruit. This is the healing touch that must cement the foundation of good politics and strong negotiation.
It is also my view that it is now time for the GoI to call a consultation with the chief ministers and top officials of the neighbouring states of Nagaland as well as Nagaland to brief them on the progress of the talks with the NSCN and seek their views. Such an exercise will open up hearts and minds as well as make the consultations more transparent. However, statements such as that of K Chawang, a spokesman of the NSCN at Kohima recently, do not bode well. Chawang has criticised the media about misinformation about the ongoing talks.
Well, no one really knows what happens at the talks apart from bland statements, platitudes and close aides of both sides! A federal relationship, according to Chawang, on defence, foreign affairs and currency is what is being negotiated. That is not autonomy, according to him. But a federal relationship exists within repeat a federation and is all about autonomy and the extent to which political frameworks can be stretched. I wonder why this point is always missed in such remarks.
The principal stakeholders in the Naga peace process are not just the NSCN and the GoI but the neighbours of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh whose lands and futures are also at stake. Whether such a consultation can lead to a broadening of the process by which the NSCN leaders also share their views with the political leaders of the three states is yet to be seen, but it appears to be a logical and appropriate way to move ahead. New Delhi is not a real neighbour of the Nagas ~ Assam, Manipur and Arunachal are.