Not just twin but triple demands of the NSCN (IM)

SK Singh *

In my previous brief, "Hard Facts About The Betrayal", in the Peoples Chronicle on 7 October (2019), the core issue discussed centered around the twin demands of the IM for separate Flag and separate Constitution.

This demand had been emphasized upon repeatedly over the years by IM apart from other various factions or groups of the Naga movement. In a slightly different language, the IM had been categorical by declaring that, it was against 'the merger of Naga areas into the Indian union'.

If this clause is acted upon on its face value, the axiomatic fallout is what they had been calling for 'sovereign state' or country and therefore a Flag and a Constitution different from those of India.

In an exclusive interview to the TOI earlier, the all powerful GS of IM was emphatic about the 'right of the Nagas' to have their own Flag and Constitution, the reason, they were never part of India nor of the British, a claim they had been stressing in various forms and meetings in the past several years of their movement.

They have been stressing too about what is claimed, 'people with unique history and sovereign rights', to the extent of referring to 'India's sovereignty lies with Indians' and 'sovereignty of Nagas lies with the Nags".

'Unique history', is what the Nagas, at least the top leaders had been emphasizing over the decades and the GOI appears to have acceded to this reference since the very beginning of the Naga movement and various talks and negotiations between the Nagas and the GOI.

The Oxford Dictionary defines 'unique' as, 'one and only', 'single or sole', 'solitary or exclusive'. In a different connotation, it also could mean, 'unmatched', 'incomparable', 'second to none' and the like. Keeping these insights in view, what could be the nearest meaning of 'unique history' of the Nagas?

Viewing from this perspective, couldn't the Meiteis/Meeteis claim their history of 2000 years as something unique or to be specific just 'unique'? This community had a 'written history', repeat 'written history' of a period as old as 2000 years.

Do the Nagas claim to have such a chequered written history? Under India Independence Act, 1947, Manipur became an independent unit or country as different from state. Manipur was among the 500 odd princely states or independent entities. On August 14, 1947 at midnight Manipur became an independent entity.

The Manipur State Constitution act, 1947 was framed and under such a doctrine, on 18 Oct, 1948, general election was held and thus an independent administrative unit was formed. This rare achievement is unique in all ways, constitutionally and politically. This independence was however short lived during the reign of Maharaja Budhachandra because of the forced signing of the 'Merger of Manipur to the Indian union' on Sep 21, 1948.

Still another vexed reference could be the translation of the term 'inclusive', which according to IM cannot be acceptable as being part of India. According to them this term 'inclusive', would mean for amalgamation of all Naga villages in the NER even including those areas inhabited by the Naga tribe in Myanmar.

In the ultimate analysis, it is questionable as to how these core sectors were not deciphered in greater detail in the body of the Framework Agreement (FM) signed with great fanfare between the GOI and NSCN (IM) on Aug 3, 2015?

The areas included in the FA should have no ambiguity, let alone such major difference of interpretation cropping up now only after more than four years of the signing of the agreement.

Interpreting 'inclusive' in totally differing paths is all the more ambiguous in as much as the term 'inclusive' often finds use in connection with ' growth' or in coverage of sectors or parts like, inclusive of everything without anything left out. If the second approach is acceptable the IM is only right in their notion of combining units of their tribes.

The much-delayed 'Final Talk', a prelude of course, held on Oct 10, Thursday ended inconclusive because of these significant differences. It turns out that the IM, practically stands for what they term 'legitimate rights', of 'integration', 'flag' and 'constitution'. The talk ended inconclusive forcing RN Ravi to go back to square one' when he had scheduled congregation with church leaders and CSOs on October 18 in Kohima.

Representatives of 14 Naga tribes of Nagaland and UNC from Manipur will be attending. In addition, Nagaland Baptist Church Council and Nagaland Gaon Burahs Federation are too invited. After the inconclusive meeting on Thursday, 10 October, the Naga Hoho, the Apex tribal body of Nagas in Nagaland announced, "Any accord that does not honor the Naga's legitimate rights for integration, separate Naga flag and constitution is neither honorable nor acceptable to the Nagas."

They went to the extent of terming the views of the GOI tantamount to 'imposed settlement'. Elaborating they argue, when the core issues (integration, flag and constitution) are yet to be resolved, any imposition, according to them, is not acceptable.

The natural corollary that comes to the immediate fore is if the FA does not address these three issues, the IM calls as their legitimate rights, threadbare what are the more important areas that the FA could have penned?

Paradoxically therefore, if that was the position, how could the NSCN (IM) put their signature on the FA? Why were not these bones of contention addressed 4 years back and why only now the question is raised when the final pact is being attempted? These are all complex areas which both GOI and the NSCN prefer to keep vague and ambiguous.

In the midst of these vagaries, fresh initiatives are active to drive home a settlement at the earliest. Seven groups of Naga National Political Group (NNPGs) had its share of a pact at the later part of 2017, signed an agreement with GOI on November 17, 2017 which they term as their 'Preamble'.

This pact with a group outside the hold of IM was what the GS of NSCN (IM) term as 'betrayal'. The NSCN(IM) GS known for his highly vocal ways even charged Ravi of deviating from the Centre's commitment made during the reign of the former PM Narasimha Rao way back in 1995 that the Naga peace talks and any solution would be only with NSCN (IM).

All said and done, the passage to the ultimate pact wouldn't be anything smooth.

* SK Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on Ocotber 17, 2019 .

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