RISING OF THE SOUTHERN NAGAS ON NAGA NATIONALISM;

PRESENT NAGA POLITY: Present Naga polity is very complex and highly disastrous on its own history. There are seven factions who are fighting for Naga sovereignty and they fight among themselves for money and power. Majority of the factions respect to NSCN IM, who is the spearheaded faction negotiating with government of India and support by the people. They used to consult to the people for every activities; this exercise in public consultation was a rare glimpse into the functioning of this well-organized insurgent group that has sustained itself since its formation in 1988. The Naga Hoho, an apex Naga social body advised the NSCN (IM) to establish a Code of Conduct (CoC) for its armed cadres especially when they meet with civilians. In response, Swu cautioned his cadres to be disciplined and warned of strict action for those who stray. This feedback mechanism created the social legitimization process that has seen the NSCN (IM) talks held at the level of none other than the Prime Minister through the medium of an interlocutor. Mr. Isak Chisi Swu and Th. Muivah (the outfit’s co-founder) speak on the Naga political cause, and speaking to the Naga People’s Consultative Meeting (PCM) organized by the NSCN (IM) in their Camp Hebron near Dimapur to a gathering of about 5000 people in 2007, asked their opinions on whether to extend the ongoing ceasefire signed in August, 1997 with the Indian government for six months or a year as was the usual practice. The overall popular consensus was that it should be extended indefinitely, and that they did on 31 July, 2007.  The Naga people’s consultative meeting at Chumukedima near Dimapur, Aug. 25 2015; NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said there would be Naga integration but areas that cannot be brought under it because of geographical location would be covered by the pan-Naga Hoho, which would be almost an independent entity – a statutory body with executive authority, separate budget and negotiating power.

On the contents of the framework agreement signed with New Delhi on August 3, Muivah said both the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) had agreed not to disclose it for the time being to avoid any exploitation of the situation by opponents and forces wanting to sabotage the peace process.

He, however, said the negotiating parties had agreed to share “competencies” in deference to the Naga people’s wish to exercise their sovereign rights. Thus, he disclosed, the August 3 framework agreement mentions that land and its resources would belong to the people and there would be no outside interference. Also, Nagalim and the government of India would jointly explore and exploit mineral resources. He said the Centre had assured them of a unique solution based on the history of the Nagas and added that sovereignty lies with the people.

HISTORICAL BACKGOUND OF NAGA POLITICAL NATIONALISM: The Nagas has been living as free nation until British colonization taking place in south East Asia. Nagas has been fighting to British and to the India and Burma for their illegal occupation of Nagalim. The social legitimacy has been a part of the Naga struggle for unique history, political representation and dignity. Starting way back in 1918 by the Naga Club, the Naga ethnic movement was further entrenched in 1929 when the Club submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission in which it stated that those from mainland India and the Nagas have nothing in common. The Naga Club was followed up by the Naga National Council (NNC) formed in 1946 by the charismatic A Z Phizo. The period of the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s were turbulent periods in Nagaland with insurgency and counterinsurgency resulting in civilian deaths. In 1964, a Nagaland Peace Mission was formed which signed a ceasefire with Phizo, only to last till 1968. In 1975, the Shillong Accord was signed in which the NNC agreed to give up arms and accept the Indian Constitution. Muivah and Swu, who were then NNC members revolted, and went on to form the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980 with S S Khaplang. In 1988, the NSCN split due to leadership differences, into the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (K).

MODERN NAGA POLITY: The modern Naga polity signifies that the NSCN (IM) members has mostly from southern Nagalim has emerged through its political nationalism and local political connections as the most powerful amongst the other factions, who are parochial at best. Moreover, unlike the NSCN (K) whose leader Khaplang has failed to maintain an integrated group with major splits occurring from within his ranks, the NSCN (IM)’s main leaders and cadres have remained intact since 1988. Hence, a peace accord with the NSCN (IM) by which the outfit gives up violence and joins a peaceful dialogue process is a breakthrough.

The three significant contexts of the present Naga polity are; first is the fact that the NSCN (K) abrogated the cease-fire on 27 March, 2015 that it signed with the Government of India in 2001. This led to an atmosphere of lawlessness followed by the deadly ambush on the 6 Dogra regiment on 4 June. In return, there has been pressure from Naga civil society and the Government to lock in the peace process with the NSCN (IM) lest it follows suit. Second, there have been increasing demands for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 from Nagaland. Third, the NSCN (IM) leaders, Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu were looking for a resolution framework that met some, if not all of their demands.

PEACE ACCORD: After Shillong Accord, 9 and 16 points agreement; recently, on 3 August PMO convoy of Naga Peace Interlocutor, R N Ravi and Thuingaleng Muivah, the leader of the NSCN (IM) has sign the Naga Peace Accord. As per the peace agreement, the NSCN (IM) has committed to follow a path of peace and abjure violence; the Government of India has bestowed special status to Naga history, culture and tradition partly within the Constitutional framework and outside her constitution. Also, if reports that a non-territorial framework in the form of autonomous district councils for Naga-inhabited areas are in the offing, this would be in the interest of states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur that oppose the NSCN (IM)’s demand for Greater Nagalim. While the details are being worked out, I know that the accord has awakened in a friend from Nagaland and completely understand the rise of the southern Nagas brother Nationalism. cont….

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