“Naga’s journey with Talk and Politics: A Reflection”

marchR. Marza

Naga’s strive for liberation, a solemn stretch of political mandate to acquire self-rule historically from erstwhile colonial move keeps craving for an ‘indigenous world order’ Nagas had destined since the intrusion of British raid on the Naga soil. The issue was left unsolved with independent India following the transfer of power, and put the Naga movement to confront India’s power unfavourably. The resistant journey engulfs today but many versions of struggle within the Naga house for many unrelenting misgivings of the past, shaped supposedly upon instigated instances in society, all yet wishing away India’s political occupation; hastening the quest for freedom to be divided. The Indian state inadequately, fails to assess its insincerity out of the Naga case, the culmination of similar trends in surrounding North-East region against state occupation and repression. Naga people in the wake of engaging settlement with India, has on various politics of India sensed uneasiness of talk and pushes the Naga leadership to face new challenges following the on-going dialogue with Government of India (GOI).

The current principle taken with Indian government for talk is understood to discuss Naga sovereignty on possible dimensions, thanks to P.V. Narashimha Rao’s contact with National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) in early 1990s. The ensued ceasefire with NSCN was realized by the Prime Minister of India, I.K. Gujral in 1997, as an exercise led by Rao, and subsequently by Deve Gowda to enter into a peace truce with NSCN. Following exhaustive meetings then, Naga people had wanted the top command of dialogue to necessarily recognize Naga’s right of an honourable entity outside the present state of rule. The Indian state amounts larger responsibility owing to higher level of political capacity and power, which otherwise tended, may result non-fruition on the country’s shining democracy! The dialogue probably is wrestling on crucial issues over expected problems which the freedom movement had in fact stood to treat it a fit measure for a very serious business.

A major jolt ailing the Peace Parleys has been the division brought by Naga’s own facets of political life, whose segment of groups has worried the Naga community almost over other things. As a matter of fact, cross section of society has ventured for the merge of these groups, fearing that such turmoil between factions could have fetched differences even in the over-ground society. The unity move popularly under the banner “Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR)” has now framed a concordant agreement with Naga Political Groups on modalities of a unified Naga National Government, an endeavour centred on the justifications of Naga political and historical rights. This possibly could be a benchmark for changing political waves as much as the framework of collective action should govern. The irony lies on the task of FNR constructing a working mechanism which may necessarily facilitate current talk with GOI, to the extend it reconciles the principal hurdles in Naga Freedom Struggle. The reconciliation issue to correspond these processes of political expediency and set-up is critical. However, the spirit of oneness and mutual correction is without doubt a celebrated approach Nagas’ aspiration can’t afford to ignore. Whereas the political landscape of the Naga populace is divided over issues and interests, the Naga leadership had made known the Naga stand since its encounter with India, as one brought by the situation of being a free people. Striking on this chord, the dialogue today sits across issues discussing the type of relationship Nagas and India would maintain. In a special interview with ANI on June 2008 in New Delhi, the Naga leader Th. Muivah categorically stated that he would not hesitate to welcome any effort if there can be any adjustment or an understanding that can be arrived at between India and the Nagas provided it does not entail the loss of the right of the Naga people to decide their own future.

The issue provokes larger talks around the domains of finalizing Nagas’ rightful claims of ownership and culture, and justifiably so, in respect of their own governance and freedom. This took India to battle the uprising as a separatist element until India lately realized the mistake of using military power against the resistant force. Nagas had stood irreconcilable towards siding ways with the Indian Union, spanning far its spur of solidarity and political freedom. The ethnic populace, connecting origins with the Mongolian tract, are known to have migrated from China in two broad waves. First passed through upper Burma and occupied Tirap District of present Arunachal Pradesh – Second wave stayed in Burma and settled there for a considerable time until later moved towards west to the present Nagaland, Manipur, North Cachar Hills and Assam. In glimpse, following Treaty of Yandabo in 1824 resulting British conquest over Burma and consequent control of the Hindu kingdoms of Manipur and Assam, British did not interfere into Nagas’ independent domains, but later had to face fierce encounters with Nagas on expeditions to connect strategic routes between British colonies which surfaced around Naga territories – first in 1832 under Captain Jenkins and Lieutenant Pemberton. After decades of warfare, the British, owing to their military patronage started consolidating power by dividing Naga settlements and in 1872 arbitrarily demarcated the Naga territories into separate homelands. Eastern Nagas falling in Burma were divided into Kachin state, Sagaing Division, and the Naga Hills. However, General Ne Win during his regime in Burma merged the Naga Hills with the two administrations without the virtual consent of the Nagas.

The Naga population had grown rapidly over the years making significant changes in their status of political life. It requires any attempt to understand the issue, a relook at the history in respect of the whole habitat, etiological relations and social system, beliefs, culture and customary practices. It is important for a great country like India in dealing the Naga issue, that democratic values and ideals of secularism enshrined in the constitution equally binds democratic institutions and power not to allow policies to infringe human rights provisions and overlook people’s suppression and freedom, or such actions towards any community who look at the Indian Republic with respect and hope. Kuknalim.