Gaon Buras, Village Chieftains of all villages in Nagaland are the real stakeholders in the peace process. Their federation tells NSCN(IM)’s Muivah not raise untenable demands
A majority of Naga organisations has come out against attempts by organizations like NSCN(IM) to drive a wedge between tribal groups in a bid to scuttle the negotiations and peace accord. In a statement issued by the Nagaland Gaon Bura Federation (NGBF), the hereditary custodians of Naga customs, traditions in Nagaland, has decried attacks on Centre’s interlocutor Shri R N Ravi, and raising of untenable demands to sabotage the agreement.
Shri Shalem Konyak, the president of NGBF, stated that in the last 23 years of Indo-Naga Peace talks, the Gaon Buras of Nagaland “have stood for and supported inclusive, acceptable and honorable solutions for all Nagas irrespective of boundaries”. After the signing of the agreement on August 3, 2015 between the Government of India and NSCN(IM) and agreed positions between GOI and WC, NNPGs on 17th November 17, 2017, time and again the NGBF has appealed to all the negotiating parties to bring home honourable and acceptable political solution to our people. “The NGBF has met Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in New Delhi and interlocutor Shri R N Ravi a number of times for early settlement of the Naga problem.” Coming down heavily on NSCN(IM)’s attempts to scuttle the peace process, Shri Konyak stated: “There is a perpetual tendency within NSCN (IM) leadership to brand Naga leaders, tribes, organisations, other civil societies as anti-Nagas and traitors for not toeing their political ideology. This is a mockery of Nagaland for Christ.” He said God-fearing leaders should not insist their words and actions are final in the Naga context. “The people’s voice and will is final. NGBF is opposed to dictate that stifles people’s sentiment. Nagas did not oppose British occupation and Indian occupation to finally be treated like expendable humans at the hands of fellow Nagas,” he added.
Calling upon NSCN(IM) leadership to give peace a chance, Shri Konyak stated: “wounds of the past must be allowed to heal and not flare”. He was referring to the large-scale fratricidal killings mounted by the NSCN(IM). According to him, post-Shillong Accord in 1975, NSCN(IM) carried out rampant killing of Naga national workers in Eastern Nagaland. “After the split of NSCN in 1988, the fratricidal killings spilled into present Nagaland state. The brazen assassination attempts on politicians, bureaucrats, civil society leaders and wiping out of a generation of young local entrepreneurs is still very fresh in the memory of our people. Today, leaders or groups with such tendencies must rethink. Our children have come of age,” he added.
On NSCN(IM)’s demand for replacing interlocutor Shri Ravi, NGBF said the demand “is unjust and untenable due to the fact that he is also the GOI interlocutor with other negotiating groups”. According to him, the transparency and practical aspect of the negotiations between the Centre and WC, NNPGs, without compromising on Naga history, identity and political right in all Naga areas, being communicated to the tribes and public at the grassroots level has found favour with the people. “In recent days, the NSCN (IM) statements have described 14 tribes, NTC, NGBF, CNTC and other civil societies as planted by R N Ravi and tutored by him has deeply hurt the sentiment of the Nagas. R.N Ravi was first seen by Nagas on TV having a warm handshake with Mr. Th. Muivah on 3rd August 2015. After 20 years of peace talks, the GOI had no option but to invite all other Naga Armed groups to the negotiating table. Just like the NSCN(IM), all the groups had different ideologies and policies and owe their origin to the very first undivided NNC. The only role the Naga civil societies particularly the NTC, NGBF and Churches played was bringing sworn enemies to a common table where they could see eye-to-eye for the sake of Nagas. It was providence.” Shri Konyak said the Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015 between the Centre and NSCN(IM) mentioned that negotiations had concluded. Later, Shri Ravi and Shri Muivah signed and sealed the agreement with a handshake. “Three years later, GOI realized it had been misled. There were other stakeholders on the ground. Sensing exclusive pact was not going to solve the Naga issue.
NGBF and all tribal Hohos insisted on an inclusive solution and on November 17, 2017, the Agreed Position was signed between the Centre and WC, NNPGs. Logic says if R N Ravi, as NSCN (IM) allege, planted or tutored stakeholders, he would never dare acknowledge or admit that the Nagas had political and historical right to self determine their future in consonant with their distinct identity. Not in a signed document. This is a great achievement and credit goes to Naga tribal Hohos, the GBs, Churches and prayer warriors. Blaming R.N Ravi or MHA has no basis. A group negotiating with GOI with R. N Ravi as interlocutor and issuing statements saying, ‘… any organization falling in line with R N Ravi is anti Naga…’ this sums up the inconsistencies in the last twenty three years of political talks between GOI and NSCN (IM).”
Claiming that NGBF cannot lie to the people, he called upon Nagas to “stay calm and positive against disturbing media trials and presumptions”.