Khekiye K. Sema
Nagas… please note that we are racing against time. It has become all the more urgently imperative that we come out from our slumbering cocoon of unquestioning complacency and take a courageous rational road of honestly questioning what appears ambiguous at this critical juncture so that the well deliberated constructive opinion so expressed can contribute towards a lasting solution acceptable to all. The present situation of secrecy surrounding the “Framework Agreement” can only point towards something that may not completely be acceptable to the Nagas of Nagaland…otherwise why the desperate secrecy if goodness is intended for us?! The bottom-line being reiterated is that it is absolutely irrational and downright stupid for the Nagas to blindly endorse, support or go against the “Framework Agreement” without knowing the contents. Maintaining neutrality would have been the most honourable thing to do under the given circumstances until we know what this agreement is all about in a definitive way.Of all the topics that have attracted one review or the other in the local media concerning “Framework Agreement” of 3rd August 2015, the one subject that has totally escaped the evaluation of the Nagas is the possible significance of the formation of Pan-Naga Confederation (PNC) even without achieving physical integration of all the Naga inhabited areas. NSCN (IM) has clearly enunciated that PNC will have ‘statutory’, ‘financial’ and ‘customary’ authority vested in it. The NSCN (IM) has further stated that all the Tribal Apex Hohos would suitably be empowered. The possibility of Article 371 A or a similar Act becoming applicable to all the Confederating units is perhaps being considered to enhance the clout of this platform. The majority have yet to spend quality time to clearly understand the “Yezabo” of NSCN (IM) but PNC appears to be a close definition of the same. Maintaining complete lockdown on transparent information, NSCN (IM) has deliberately failed to explain the hierarchical and operational status of PNC or the Apex Hohos. This encourages unanswered questions to continue. Now consider the following speculations and cross examine your thoughts to see which side of the fence you belong:
1. Let us take a closer look on NSCN (IM)’s intended structure of their hierarchical system of governance as per their “Yezabo”. It talks of “Collective Leadership” with “one party system”. Now take a look at the Pan Naga Confederation where selected representatives of Nagas of Assam, Nagas of Arunachal, the Nagas of Manipur and Nagas of Myanmar all get to become members of the Pan Naga Confederation even without a physical integration thus completing the formation of PNC with Collective Leadership emerging from this forum. Would this imply that the Nagas of Nagaland would also be reduced to the status of Nagas beyond the present State boundary in the formation of this Pan Naga Confederation set up? God forbid…Nagas of Nagaland have not shed their precious blood fighting for freedom so as to just be reduced to the level of our other brothers who unfortunately got left behind. Would this then imply that the PNC will replace the present State Government which is the legal custodian of the statutory and financial authority? If not, what is the definition of the so-called “statutory and financial” authority that will be vested in PNC? Can NSCN (IM) please explain how this parallel structure between the two will operate? Please? Is it the intent of NSCN (IM) to suitably restructure the present Nagaland bureaucracy to become the working arm to directly operate under the dictate of the Pan Naga Confederation with transferred statutory and financial authority that otherwise rests with the present State Government? These are some of the troublesome questions that occur and yet Nagas of Nagaland are prepared to endorse the agreement with unanswered questions. Take another factual analysis into consideration: It is beyond imagination to think that an ambitious man like Mr. Muivah would pack up his bags and quietly retire to his native village or head an insignificant Autonomous Naga Council in Manipur after sacrificing his entire life for the cause. Therefore, in all likelihood, if PNC structure becomes the statutory authority of governance then it would not be difficult to imagine that Mr. Muivah would become that all powerful Chairman of the Collective Leadership without being a Naga from Nagaland with Mr. Isac Swu out of the loop naturally being incapacitated by age. Depending on the quantum of the economic package salvaged from the final settlement, Mr. Muivah can then exercise the statutory financial authority to not only fund development projects in Nagaland but all the other Nagas in Assam, Arunachal, Manipur and even dare fund Nagas of Myanmar beyond the International boundary. Here again, would it mean that Nagas of Nagaland will necessarily have to share its development funds with all beyond our immediate boundary? Would that also aggravate the level of aggression of all the States against development projects funded by PNC (like that of the NEC) within their respective Naga inhabited region? Would this be a camouflaged detour to in fact reinforce the unity of Nagas in other States to stand up and fight for their financial rights as never before which eventually would perpetuate a crisis situation forcing the hand of GoI to rethink the issue of integration of all the Naga inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella which is presently being postponed for future review under the present “Framework Agreement”? I most probably could be wrong but it does throw up an intriguing possibility.
2. The other disturbing scenario that emerges from the confidently adamant refusal of NSCN (IM) to bring all the other factions on board for the final settlement with the GoI stems from the statement of the Governor of Nagaland saying that 4000 NSCN (IM) cadre will be absorbed in the Army. It is indicative of another proven factor in the “Framework Agreement” which does not mention anything about surrender of arms by the cadre which normally gets incorporated in every settlement with the rebelling forces. Mr. Governor is not a common street boy to be making a loose statement without knowing the internal thinking process of the GoI even if the NSCN (IM) denies his statement. The reported recruitment drive being intensified by NSCN (IM) ‘South of the border’ is not without a reason which is predictable. Should the “in-service” NSCN (IM) cadre really get absorbed in the Army it would allow the continued dominance of the present legacy of top heavy Tangkhul entrenchment further being reinforced by the equally bottom heavy newly recruited Tangkhul army which will surely strengthen the hand of the Chairman of the Collective Leadership for ethnic cleansing if he so desire. Such an army under the direct control of PNC would then have the legal sanction to wipe out all the other weakly fragmented, divided NPGs who would all necessarily be declared as anti-national elements under the new dispensation. A blood bath civil war within our own people will then become imperative with the silent majority fearfully and helplessly looking on as we are prone to doing even in the present day. Can the Nagas contend with such an oppressive regime that may evolve or afford such a development of converting Nagaland into a killing field all over again if the NPGs of Nagaland refuse to surrender? Yet with a dangerous impending possibility such as this, our very callous indifferent NPG leaders are still unable to see beyond their personal egos and their present financial taxation comfort zone instead of recognising the potential threat of this new development and uniting amongst themselves. It does not take a rocket scientist to envision that NSCN (IM) and the GoI would have no option but to recognise the emergence of a united NPGs of Nagaland under one roof and seriously acknowledge ‘inclusiveness’ before the settlement which has now become the standard will of the masses.
3. The despicable nature of our Naga Hoho and other Tribal Hohos thus far displayed in giving endorsement without first consulting their respective constituents to an agreement that they know nothing about is another cause for worry. Street talks are on the increase that many responsible vested interests have begun their discrete treasure hunt vying for favour of NSCN (IM) for future lucrative positions should they finally form the Government after the settlement…therefore the blind loyalist support of which our elected representatives have been an active participant in endorsement without question. The Naga Hoho, (with Nagas of Nagaland being the minority in our own kitchen and NSF in the same mould), went an extra mile in not wanting ACAUT to facilitate a common platform for people to think for themselves. Imagine…they disapprove people from expressing themselves or even thinking independently anymore! What a disgrace! It is no longer a farfetched notion to casually throw out such a notion out of the window considering the irrational manner in which the Naga Hoho/ many Apex Hohos have blindly opted to endorse the “framework agreement” without knowing its contents. The promised carrot of empowerment of the Tribal Apex Hohos seems to have gone into the heads of the leaders who have begun the exercise of self perpetuation/preservation while compromising the rights of the common man. I fail to understand why the people keep following visionless leaders without a question, but being what we sadly are…we deserve such leadership I suppose.
Given the above speculated possibilities do the Nagas accept the present trend of blind endorsement or do they believe that support for the framework agreement must be given only after we know the factual details? Make your call!
The writer is IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima.