Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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HomeOpinionEnd NSCN-IM's dadagiri in the northeast. Nagaland deserves peace

End NSCN-IM’s dadagiri in the northeast. Nagaland deserves peace

How many agreements is the government of India expected to negotiate with the rebel Nagas? The NSCN-IM needs to be shown its place, and peace deal signed.

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The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) team in Delhi for talks wanted a new interlocutor in place of R.N. Ravi, the current governor of Nagaland. The group was unhappy with the tough stance taken by Ravi, who had made it clear that there could be no question of a separate Constitution for Nagaland or merger of the Naga-inhabited areas of adjoining states into Nagaland.

The biggest problem in Nagaland today is not the non-finalisation of the framework agreement but the gradual withering away of the state.

It may be recalled that a framework agreement was signed on 3 August 2015 with the rebel Nagas. The expectation was that this would soon be followed by a final agreement marking the end of the secessionist movement in Nagaland and usher in an era of peace. However, that did not happen because of the intransigence of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN (IM).

Governor Ravi, while tirelessly working to resolve outstanding issues, was not prepared to accept any demand that would dilute the sovereignty of India or impinge on the territorial integrity of the neighbouring states. It is will be very unfortunate if the Narendra Modi government sidelines him from the negotiations.

Also read: Delay in Naga peace process is intentional and suits NSCN(I-M) chief Muivah

Ravi has ruffled feathers

In the past, the NSCN (IM) was quite happy when a former Home Secretary was the interlocutor. The bureaucrat was, unfortunately, more interested in foreign jaunts to hold talks with the rebel leaders in different parts of the world and was extra-cautious not to hurt them — in fact, he mollycoddled and pampered them.

Ravi ruffled the feathers of the state government and the NSCN (IM) when, in a letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, he expressed unhappiness over rampant “extortion by armed gangs” who are running “a parallel government”, and directed all government officials to submit information regarding members of their families and relatives in underground organisations to the home department. State government officials running with the hare and hunting with the hound felt that they would be exposed in the process. The NSCN (IM) felt that their support base would be eroded. No wonder, they resented Ravi and his actions.

Also read: Naga peace deal can be a feather in Modi’s cap, but watch out for China

Extortions continue

During the last twenty-three years, that is ever since the suspension of operations agreement was signed on 25 July 1997, the state has been pathetically abdicating its functions and conceding ground to the rebel outfits. What is worse, it is not that there is one parallel government. As stated by former chief minister S.C. Jamir, Nagaland has “multiple governments, prime ministers, commanders-in-chief, and they all believe they are the boss”. The NSCN (IM) is, of course, the most formidable. It is however split in to the Yung faction and the Konyak faction. The Naga National Council is divided between the Accordist and Non-Accordist groups. Then, you have the Naga National Political Group and the Naga Hoho, and so on.

These groups have, during the last over two decades, either infiltrated or acquired influence over various departments and, from time to time, extort money from government functionaries and the public. Extortion is done under the garb of ‘donations’ or ‘taxes’. A lot of money the Centre sanctions for development works is thus siphoned off. The contractor is obliged to give a certain percentage to the rebel outfit active in the area. Corruption and extortion are the order of the day. As stated by Jamir, “they call it taxes, but it is extortion”, and that “a single Naga family is feeding so many so-called government institutions (that) unfortunately for him nothing is left”.

Some people are so fed up meeting the demands of multiple insurgent groups that they would be quite happy if the cease-fire was called off. During operations, the insurgents were driven to the jungles, but now they are all over the area and move about freely in towns and cities, making life difficult for citizens.

However, the rebel groups are quite happy with the current ceasefire agreement. And have been violating its provisions with impunity. There is a Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG), but it is quite ineffective. According to its spokesman, the rebels are not expected to extort money from people, but the group cannot take action for ‘donations’. Similarly, the rebels are not expected to recruit individuals, but the group cannot take action when people join ‘voluntarily’. The ground rules are loosely worded and the rebels have fully exploited those to collect funds, recruit men and women, and augment their strength. It is indeed unfortunate that the Government of India has been a mute spectator to this tamasha for over two decades now.

Also read: Modi govt has ‘no plans’ to oust interlocutor Governor Ravi despite demand from Naga groups

No more dadagiri  

It would be legitimate, in this context, to ask how many agreements the Government of India is expected to negotiate with the rebel Nagas. The Naga People’s Convention held in 1957 had demanded that the Naga hills district of Assam and the Tuensang Frontier Division of North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) be merged into a single unit. The demand was conceded and the Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA) was formed.

Another Naga People’s Convention held in 1959 demanded the creation of a separate state of Nagaland. This was also conceded to and Nagaland was carved out in 1963. Then there was the Shillong Agreement in 1975 whereby the underground groups agreed to deposit their arms while the government agreed to release the rebels held in detention and give liberal grants for their rehabilitation.  The hardcore elements, who later formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), however, did not abide by the terms of the agreement. And now, Muivah and company have come up with fresh demands for a separate flag, constitution and merger of Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh into Nagaland. What is the guarantee that this would be the end of its demands? The fact is that the NSCN (IM) has been blackmailing the Government of India and it is high time that the Centre takes a tough stand and says in as many words, thus far and no further.

Governor Ravi has been singularly successful in bringing all the major 14 tribes of Nagaland on a platform to say that they all want peace to continue. The Nagaland Gaon Bura Federation (NGBF) recently issued a statement criticising Muivah’s handling of the peace talks and categorically stated that “the demand for replacement of Interlocutor is unjust and untenable”.

It is time that the NSCN (IM)’s dadagiri in the northeast is ended. This outfit has not only been a thorn in the flesh, but it has also been supporting other insurgent outfits in different parts of the northeast, outside Nagaland.

The author was formerly Director General, Border Security Force and DGP Assam. Views are personal.

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  1. How such an ignorant and arrogant person’s view came to be given space in an esteemed pint media is beyond comprehension!
    Please remember India’s geo-political security lies not a small part on the Nagas. In fact, the Naga Issue has much bigger dimensions than Kashmir….and I suppose GoI is fully grasp of the situation.

    • Who are you kidding??? Everyone knows what I-M has been doing and what they are up to. It is time that they are shown their place. By force if necessary. Just because of the big ego of the Konyaks, us, the other peace loving Nagas cannot be dragged into eras of mindless violence. At least we Ao refuse to bear the burdens of your stupidity.

  2. Is the author really a former DG of BSF and DGP Assam? This probably is the reason they failed miserably. To write on someone or something, a person should first do a through research rather than making noise just to gather attention or become a celebrity overnight. Stop living in a dreamworld. People around the world are not blind to the Naga history anymore so, trying to twist things will not help. Learn to learn and write else don’t waste your precious time.

  3. The writer needs to atleast have a knowledge of the Naga political issue even if he wants to twist the history of the Nagas..atleast know the facts about how and when NSCN(IM) was formed if not the reasons..or for that matter how NSCN was formed and how NSCN split into K and IM..then we can go back a decade to 1975 and then another decade back to 1963..

  4. Speaking strictly in legal terms, in my humble view, Article 371A providing for special status for Nagas in the Indian Union, can come into operation only when a formally codified and universally accepted Text(s) is available respecting the religious practices, customary laws, social mores etc. The fact that the Nagas have been converted to Christianity in a big way, an altogether different faith from what they have been practicing traditionally over very long period,it poses a difficult questions as to what exactly is a customary law/religious practice for the Naga people. Therefore, before any exercise to concede Nagas the privileges as ordained in the Constitution, it is imperative that well codified texts of all these subjects are formally brought in to existence, and duly approved by the competent authority.

  5. The Indian Army must be tasked with exterminating the NSCN(I-M) from Nagaland as well as its bases in Myanmar.
    As long as the NSCN(I-M) exists, peace is not possible in Nagaland.

  6. Frankly remove the army from NorthEast and Kashmir, both the places will develop a lot.
    Reading this article feels like “the devil is writing the scriptures”. It is well known that the so called Jawans are nothing but rapists thugs who do so under total impunity under AFSA act . Recent case involving the Mizoram govt. and Assam Refile is a case point.

    So control the army dadagiri rather than shifting the blame.

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