During the ACAUT rally in Dimapur on August 25, 2017, there was an announcement by some of the speakers that there will be a civil war in Nagaland or Naga areas unless the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) accommodate the Working Group of the remaining 6 Naga National Political Groups. It also formed one of the listed items in the seven-point resolution made that day in front of the mammoth crowd of people from all walks of life.
War is one of the biggest catastrophes that strike humans and at times the body count surpasses natural calamities many a times. It brings death and destruction in its wake with merciless killings, butchery, rape, mass exterminations, starvation and poverty. In the diplomatic circles therefore the utterance of the word itself is well guarded and not spoken unintentionally.
For the Naga population however it is not a very new term because Nagas first faced an undeclared war between the Naga Nationalists and the Government of India starting from the fifties. Then as the guerrilla warfare continued, Nagas actually faced the beginnings of a civil war when Nagas were killed by Nagas themselves, whatever be the reason cited. History will one day recount who outmanoeuvred whom; who betrayed whom; and who engineered what, but the killings within Nagas ultimately led to the divide among the Nagas that still exists today.
From NNC came RGN then to NSCN and looking back, the fights between the groups and the factions were indeed nothing short of civil war at least in the faraway lands in then Burma. However in the Indian side of the border, proxy wars were fought later by the factions as the so called over-ground populace were also actively involved. A village against another, a tribe against another, a candidate against another, a businessman against a rival and et al.
Many loyal Naga soldiers laid down their lives in their respective lines of duties. Many Nagas not necessarily a cadre or a security force lost their lives for a cause either they believed in or while performing their duties. However, the Naga issue was never degraded to such low levels as it was in that span of about a quarter of a century starting from the split in the NSCN till the signing of agreement initiated by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation. If it was not a civil war then what was it?
The existing lull is a ceasefire which normally should lead to negotiations. As it is the nature of war although everyone bears the brunt, some or one of the groups would be completely run over unless there is a ceasefire. Fortunately, for the noble deeds of a few and emphasis of Christian principles, bloodshed was stopped. So to be precise, after the ceasefire between the more influential and stronger groups died down, the many off shoots and factions came about and at present there are at least 10 different groups. Some undoubtedly deserve their share as equals but some may just be piggybacking on other’s hard earned efforts.
All the Naga Political Groups get the benefit of doubt since they are based on the Naga political issue. Therefore it also enables the people to have a say in what they do. So giving a clean chit to every group that comes in the name of the Naga issue will be a regressive step and might bring more unforeseen ramifications. The power that the people have at present is unprecedented and can be manoeuvred in a better way, and in some cases some of the groups need to be directed to do what is best for the Nagas. However, wisdom is a prerequisite to do that because the same people will say it out in the open to the groups one day, ‘What did you achieve’?