AFTER KASHMIR IS INDIAN GOVERNMENT READY TO GO BACK ON PROMISE TO NAGALAND?

Shutdown in Nagaland
Shutdown in Nagaland (File Photo)

After
Kashmir is Indian Government ready to go back on promise to Nagaland ?

The Nagas
claim that their leader Phizo never signed any instrument of accession with
India like the other 562 princely states and Nagaland or Nagalim,
as they prefer to call their land, was never part of India either with consent
or by conquest.

Nagas are
proud of their unique history in which they have never been subject to any
foreign rule.

It was the
British which first made Nagaland part of Assam after a number of violent
clashes in which there were casualities on both sides. Nagaland has also
witnessed intertribal violence. There are close to forty different tribes with
distinct cultural identities.

The Nagas
had asked British to let them have the freedom to determine their future and
the British had also agreed to a concept of limited sovereignty based on
traditional idea of self-rule.

What is Naga problem?

Mahatma
Gandhi had supported the right of Nagas to determine their destiny and was
against Nehru sending Army to conquer it.

When India
was about to achieve independence Jawahar Lal Nehru offered local autonomy to
Nagas but they continued to assert their identity as a separate nation. It
remained part of Assam after India’s independence.

After a
violent uprising Indian Army was sent in 1955 and three years later Armed
Forces Special Powers Act was promulgated to contain the Naga rebellion among
other disturbances in the Northeastern states.

In 1963
Nagaland became a separate state after an agreement of Naga People’s
Convention with Nehru government
which was described by Phizo as a sell
out.

In 1975
there was a Shillong agreement with Naga National Council. This
was rejected by some. Isak Chisi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S.S. Khaplng
formed National Socialist Council of Nagalim to carry on the struggle for
sovereignty.

In 1988
there was a split. NSCN (IM) leaders went to Europe and NSCN (K) leader settled
in Mayanmar. Since then Indian Prime Ministers Narsimha Rao, Deve Gowda and
Atal Bihari Vajpayee met Isak and Muivah in Paris, Bangkok and Amsterdem,
respectively. A process of dialogue has been going on after a ceasefire
agreement in 1997. A Framework Agreement was signed on 3rd August, 2015 with
the Narendra Modi government. Interlocuter R.N. Ravi, now governor of Nagaland,
signed on behalf of Government of India and Muivah signed on behalf of Nagas in
the presence of PM. Isak signed from a hospital bed.

A concept of
shared sovereignty and inclusive relationship of enduring peaceful co-existence
of the two entities has been agreed to.

NSCN
(IM)
has worked
out in detail the delicate balance of competencies which will define the nature
of relationship. They want Nagaland government to cover all Nagas, even living
in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and ultimately hope for integration of
all land inhabited by Nagas, their long standing demand. There will be Naga
Regional Councils in these three states. 
Naga Regional Territorial Councils wil have their own legislature,
executive and judiciary. The judiciary will comprise both customary law as well
as modern. Land and resources above and below will belong to Nagaland.

Naga
areas are rich in petroleum, natural gas, coal and other minerals.

Presently
the central government just shares less than a fourth of the revenue with
states. International relations will be with India except for matters related
to Nagaland. Nagaland will have separate foreign offices for culture and
education. Nagaland will have its own education system. It will also expect
reservation for students from Nagaland in Indian educational institutions.

Even with a
Christian majority Nagaland would remain a secular state. Security will be with
local government but defence will be shared with Indian Army. They aspire to
have separate Anthem, Insignia, Flag and Constitution. Two members will
represent Nagaland in Rajya Sabha. Agreement reached will not be altered
unilaterally and will require two thirds majority of Indian parliament as well
as Nagaland Assembly. Armed Forces Special Powers Act will be revoked and not
be imposed by India.

In August
2019 immediately after abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir under
Article 370 of Indian Constitution, the Governor R.N. Ravi revealed that the PM
wanted a final agreement to be signed with Nagas within three months. He wants
Nagaland to integrate with India like any other state. When it was expected
that a final accord will be signed soon, the government is trying to bring on
board a group of six organisations called Naga National Political Groups which
has raised a question on the proposed Constitution of Nagaland. NSCN (IM)
leadership considers this as a betrayal.

Muivah warns
India

Thuingaleng
Muivah says that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people, hence
sovereignty of Nagas lies with Nagas. He warns that NSCN (IM) has come very
close to an honourable solution to peace process with Government of India but
if it doesn’t materialise then Nagas will go away so far that it’ll be
difficult to bring them back to the table easily.

Indian
government must live upto its commitment to NSCN (IM) with whom it has been in
dialogue for 22 years. Nagaland is not asking for independence. All they want
is an arrangement of shared sovereignty and peaceful co-existence with India.

C.
Rajagopalachari supported the Naga rights

Muivah asks
how can Nagas surrender without any achievement in peace process? They did not
dialogue for 22 years to merely become one of India’s states. Granting a
separate Constitution and Flag to them will not endanger India’s sovereignty in
any way.

As
Loknayak  Jayaprakash Narayan said it is
better to have friendly Nagas on our frontier rather than unfriendly and
discontented kept forcibly within India. C. Rajagopalachari supported the Naga
right to become independent.

By
Sandeep Pandey and Meera Sanghamitra

(Sandeep Pandey is associated with Socialist Party (India) and Meera Sanghamitra with National Alliance of People’s Movements. The writers were part of a delegation of 13 social-political activists invited to meet the collective leadership of NSCN (IM) on 27 September, 2019 at Camp Hebron, Nagaland.)

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