The local papers carried the account of Mr. Khekiye K. Sema, IAS (Rtd) dated 30.9.2019 on what he learnt from his participation in a meeting at camp Hebron on invitation on 21.9.2019. I am surprised to come across particularly a clause under Competencies which Mr. Khekiye has divulged that runs “the State of Nagaland will cease to exist”.
When we hardly have 30 days within which the Naga political negotiations are expected to bring it to a close, I wish I can quietly and prayerfully wait for the outcome without raising any debatable issue on the agenda of the Naga negotiators at this very moment. Nevertheless, when NSCN(IM) never divulged its talking points earlier than what were disclosed in that meeting on 21.9.2019, and when the very clause in question threatens the very existence of the State of Nagaland, I am compelled to give my view point at the fake end of the negotiations. Whereas, if the particular matter is of a secondary issue, reaction may not necessarily be warranted and yet it is otherwise.
Had NSCN(IM) been open hearted and shared any political agenda that pertains to common interest of the Nagas of Nagaland or of the Nagas as a whole in good time, there would never have been any room for distrust amongst the Nagas. How intricate any issue may be, it is solvable when we become open hearted. Yet, 22 years were not adequate enough for us to have a round table talk and sort out our issues amicably merely due to evasiveness. Whether this very proposal is being agreeable by GOI or not is known to the proposers, and yet when the matter relates to the very existence of Nagaland, it is imperative to react.
What does exactly “the state of Nagaland will cease to exist” as to NSCN(IM) means is best known to them. As for me I have to understand the literal meaning of it as published. Mr. Khekiye K. Sema continued with the sentence that the State of Nagaland will be replaced, within quote, with “People’s Govt. of Nagaland”. The universal truth is that when there is no land with distinct territory, there can be no question of creation of Statehood as the castle cannot be constructed in the air. When there is no Statehood there cannot be a Government of any kind. Also, a State cannot remain without an established Government. Any Government is therefore synonymous of the Statehood.
The State of Nagaland was created out of the political agreement with the GOI by the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) called the 16-Point Agreement of 1960. The nomenclature of the State which is inhabited and owned by the Nagas known as Nagaland is most appropriate and beautiful too. At the time of having debate in Parliament on the creation of the 16th State of the Union of India, some MPs suggested otherwise and even opposed to the nomenclature ‘Nagaland’ as the stories were passed down to us. Yet, we are ever grateful to the Living God that the Indian Parliament approved the creation of our State with its name Nagaland. The State of Nagaland was not created for a fixed period. The name Nagaland stands dear to the Nagas of Nagaland.
The hierarchical order of governing the Union of India is that the Union is governed by the MPs, the State is governed by the MLAs, the Union Territory is governed by the MLAs and lastly the Autonomous District Council under the State is governed by the District Councillors. The language “the State of Nagaland will cease to exist” is indeed perturbing. Does it intend to demote or demolish the Statehood? When I understand by its literal meaning, the Statehood of Nagaland will no more remain but it will be replaced. When the Statehood of Nagaland comes to its end, can one expect a better status post such exit? I cannot believe.
By the Art 371(A) of the Constitution of India, the 16th State-Nagaland, was created. Nagaland is therefore synonymous of the mentioned Art. When the GOI abrogated Art 370 meant for Jammu & Kashmir, we all became apprehensive that the process of Uniform Civil Code, which the BJP in particular much talked about, was set in motion and the next victim would be the Art 371(A). That apprehensive situation compelled the Union Govt. to convey to us through media that it had no intention to even nudge the Art 371. It was thus ensured that under any circumstances, the Art 371(A) will remain unhindered. Nevertheless, by my layman’s understanding, the Art 371(A) and the State of Nagaland are co-terminus, when one is removed the other cannot exist. When Nagaland losses its status one cannot expect the Art 371(A) to remain. Whereas, one cannot imagine the survival of Nagaland without the Art 371(A). The clause in question containing ‘the State of Nagaland will cease to exist’ is the greatest threat to Nagaland.
It has become obvious that Naga sovereignty and integration are not within the purview of the political negotiations. When the expected solution comes bereft of the two principal aspirations, none will be surprised because of the fact that the GOI had already made it clear to the Nagas as a whole. The Nagas have to just welcome the solution and no sensible Naga can blame the Naga negotiators knowing the contemporary ground realities. Yet, no such clause under the competencies should have equipped with nuclear head with which what is established as our status and our identity is destroyed. In the event of any attempt to disrupt the status and the existing position of the State of Nagaland, a new chapter of wrangle will possibly be opened and such will have immense negative impact on our common future.
As long as the status of the State of Nagaland is safeguarded, it will continue giving protection to the Nagas everywhere. From where the better economic, social and political shelter the Nagas can avail if not from the State of Nagaland. It is most unfortunate if one tends to adopt use and throw policy.