New Delhi: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has been on a virtual dream run — pursuing his relentless persuasive skills moving from pillar to post.
The efforts have been to build a consensus between all sections so that there is One Solution to the Naga political issue.
Fresh from his consultative meeting with civil society members and other stakeholders at Kohima on October 15, Rio spent a few days in Delhi, meeting important players and movers and shakers of Indian politics. Once in Delhi, he also met important NSCN (IM) leaders and tried to pass on the Government of India viewpoints – vis-a-vis the demands for Flag and Constitution.
Unlike many including, for example, NPF leader TR Zeliang, Rio has avoided hunger for media limelight as well. At the end of the Delhi meet, he only told some of his associates and NDPP colleagues that — “Those who matter in Delhi were receptive of his suggestions and views”. Sources close to the Chief Minister said Rio has been categorical that any genuine peace would herald in Naga hills once there is “political solution based on Naga historical and political rights”.
The Naga history has been unique and complex and thus to presume that a solution can emerge based on Kashmir strategies or the so-called Mizoram prism may not be right either.
Kashmir has a different ballgame, and thus, the use of military forces cannot help in Nagaland.
Rio, during his stay in the national capital, has tried to drive home the point that any solution should be worked out “under the spirit of mutual respect and commitment for peaceful co-existence”. In this context, during deliberations with Home Minister Amit Shah or BJP leader from Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, it was underlined that a nation and its people stand to be all the more dignified only by resolving conflicts through respect.
Dr Visier Sanyu, president of the Overseas Naga Association, put it well during the October 15 meeting at Kohima that the Modi government in the centre has the “political responsibility and power” to make these happen.
However, there have been strong comments in the media by NSCN (IM) leadership and NNPG also.
While Muivah did not hesitate to dub other Naga leaders as “traitors”, the conglomerate of seven Naga groups has hit out at him for describing other Naga leaders as ‘anti-Naga or traitors’.
“No Naga political leader till now has dared to call 14 Naga Tribes or sub-tribes, GBs or other civil society as ‘anti-Naga or traitors’ for demanding early Indo-Naga political solution, honour and acceptance to Nagas everywhere. To tag or question the wisdom of Naga tribes and civil societies at this hour is very unfortunate,” the NNPG said in a statement.
Muivah in an interview had said NNPG leaders have been conducting themselves as “traitors”.
The rivalry between rivals has been the bane of the Naga insurgency legacy. These have only delayed the talks process and also given some advantages to the centre since the 1960s to use military power.
But the tribalism and ethnic differences have indeed been a reality too.
“We must know what tribalism has done to Nagas,” says Naga intellectual Niketu Iralu. And thus concerned individuals in advanced tribes should start to take any resentment from smaller and hitherto neglected tribal groups.
Who can unlock the deadlock that has been reached about the Naga peace talks?
In more ways than one, experts say the Nagas are at the threshold of seeing a new dispensation. Here comes the relevance of the resolution adopted at the end of Kohima meet.
One of the resolutions read: “Affirmed to relentlessly work in a collective and unified manner with one voice to facilitate the peace process and strengthen the negotiations for early realisation of the desired One Solution in a transparent manner which is acceptable and honourable”.
Of course, this vital point has also been highlighted that all Naga negotiating groups must come together.
The use of words ‘traitor and anti-Naga’ and an equally strong snib from NNPG shows that so-called unity is far off.
Naga Hoho leader H K Zhimomi has said – everyone is talking about unity when there is no unity.
But while talking unity is easier said than done; the NNPG has made it clear that Muivah’s outburst that Nagas will not accept the Indian constitution is like a circus.
“After 23 years of political talks, when a negotiator declared that Nagas do not accept the union of India or Indian constitution, it could only mean, the political dialogue was a circus exercise for personal gains,” the NNPG statement said.
For his part, Nagaland Chief Minister Rio has in the ultimate diagnosed the disorder well. The biggest challenge today for Nagas is ‘division’, and this is also a roadmap to self-destruction, he told this writer.
The Nagas need to correct themselves; and on the part of the centre, New Delhi must review its policies towards the region.
Some of it has been done by the Modi government. In diplomatic parlance, for instance, Indo-Myanmar cooperation is vital both at the ASEAN and sub-regional levels. Recently, foreign secretary Harshvarshan Shringla and army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Myanmar. Naga groups are active in western Myanmar also. Another engaged Naga sociologist, Rev Wati Aier says – what has not worked in the past should not be given a chance yet again.
That means ‘piecemeal solutions’ are no solution to the problem of Nagas. If keeping some strict actions against a few groups and keeping them at bay and talking to the other camps could have resolved the problem, we would not be debating the Naga issue in circa 2020.
The statehood for Nagaland came in 1963 following a peace pact of 1960, and since then a few more agreements were inked, but the peace remains an illusion in Nagaland and some pockets in north-eastern states.