Friday, January 27, 2023

conjecture of an alleged pessimist !

December 2022 is half gone. The month of Good Tidings reminds me of the Naga mass euphoria generated by the infractuous. ‘Solution within 3 (three) months’ declaration in August, 2019 and the subsequent Naga political hosannahs to the unequal governments for the deceptiously hyped ‘Solution by Christmas, 2019’. To the present, December 2022.
National and State dignitaries no less than the Vice-President of India, Governor of the state, Chief minister and other high-ups have dwelled on the political negotiations and anticipated ‘impending’ solution in various events and fora in the days gone by this month, re-kindling probably false hopes that the Naga solution is round the corner.
Thank you very much. But past experience makes us feel doubtful if the recent big statements, too, will pass as empty, ritualistic rhetorics leaving the Nagas hoping against hope for living with self-respect, dignity and without exploitation of any kind.
In the not too distant past, we have come across occasional sane voices from those Naga leaders and intellectuals who are perceived by non-partisan and open-minded Nagas as realistic, objective and courageous on the Naga political issue but unfortunately, such voices have gone unpondered and undigested and those well-meaning Nagas, of late, have been maintaining a deafening silence obviously exasperated on realizing that vested interests of different shapes and hues are bent on keeping things adrift, asunder and exploitable till End of Time with a little concurrence of the alleged adversary.
Sharing of this seemingly idle thought of an obsure Naga citizen, too, will very well end up as a voice voiced in futility. Notwithstanding, this is about a nagging apprehension troubling the mind of many observant Nagas relating to the content and ramification of the ‘permanent solution’ which we have been clamoring for.
Simply put, will the much hyped and fed upon solution be what we need and want? Will the proposed ‘solution’ solve the decades-long Naga political issue termed as insurgency by others but struggle by us? Call it the conjecture of a pessimist, if you will, but conjectures or speculations often has a way of being exact indicators of what ensues.
Thus said, let us conjecture or speculate on the worst case scenario in store for the Nagas, keeping in mind the following actual events and facts:
i). Government of India’s (GoI) Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) solution- a precedent?
After having to contend with the Kashmiri separatist movement and bearing the brunt of terrorism mostly engineered by anti-India forces and elements from across the borders since independence, GoI through a Presidential order, abrogated Art. 370 & 35A of the Constitution of India on 05.08.2019. Consequently, the special constitutional provisions applicable to the then state of J&K was revoked. Besides, the political status of J&K was downgraded to that of Union territory (ies).
ii). The Ravi Declaration – the bugle?
Around the same time Art. 370 & 35A was abrogated, the then newly appointed Governor of Nagaland, R.N.Ravi (Ravi) publicly declared that he was sent by the Centre with the task of solving the 90-years old (1929-2019) Naga problem within 3 (three) months! There was absolutely no question of abrogating Art. 371-A which was a solemn/sacred provision, Ravi further averred. Thankfully, Ravi might have realized the reality and accordingly cautioned the Centre (hypothesis!) against rushing with the ‘solution’. However, GoI’s assertion that talks have been concluded at a time when Ravi was still the state Governor (the purported still ongoing talks notwithstanding) implies that the ‘solution’ signed and sealed during Ravi’s governorship is pending to be delivered at a time deemed appropriate by the GoI (speculation!).
iii). Total integration of India-whither Nagas?
It is amply clear that the BJP’s avowed task is to fulfill Sardar Patel’s vision of a totally integrated India. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong or objectionable in it. After all, which sovereign nation or independent country would want parts of its territory to remain unwieldy and troublesome with pulls and pressures the Centre can hardly hold?
The case of Nagaland and Nagas, however is unique as has publicly been acknowledged time and again by Indian leaders at the highest level. For instance, Kashmir consentaneously merged with India with the then ruler of erstwhile princely domain of Maharaja Hari Singh executing a binding legal document, namely the Instrument of Accession on 26.10.1947.
In other words Kashmir became a part of India with the consent of the state. On the other hand, no accord or agreement signed by the GoI and sections of Nagas mentions anything about Nagas in general renouncing their (our) birthright for living free. For the Nagas, the Memorandum submitted to the Simon Commission in 1929, the 9-Point/10-year Agreement 1947 and the outcome of the Naga Plebiscite, 1951 remains the cornerstone, vision and mandate for the struggle for reclaiming freedom. In fact, had not Nehru treacherously renegated on the 9-Pt.Agreement or had Mahatma Gandhi lived a little longer, the land of the Nagas would have been an independent and sovereign country existing with good neighbourly relations with the great and peace loving country of India.
iv) GoI-IM talks impasse-Advantage GoI?
After having compelled to climb down from ‘unconditional’ to ‘under the Indian constitution’ condition, the NSCN (IM) is now unlikely to compromise with the separate Naga flag and Constitution demand and no solution without separate flag and constitution declaration. We assume that the IM has a purpose in being rigid with the insistence. We also believe that it will be pushed to a no-win situation if it bows to pressures to throw away its card in play though it might have an ace up its sleeve. On the other hand, it seems improbable that the GoI will accede to the IM’s current insistence as the Indian Constitution now only recognizes the Indian National Flag and the Constitution of the Union of India. Yes, there is a remote possibility of going for an amendment to the constitution to accommodate the demand of the IM in view of the acknowledged uniqueness but this is almost impossible. Conjecture what comes next.
v). Demand for Frontier Nagaland-a ready handle for GoI?
The demand for Frontier Nagaland state by the ENPO and its affiliated tribes is understandable in the light of the ‘I, my, me’ mentality and policy of the powers that be resulting in unabashed concentration of developmental activities, wealth and human advancement opportunities in privileged and favoured areas, thereby willfully ignoring the overall needs of the state as a whole. In fact, it will not be a surprise at all if tomorrow there are demands for a Central Nagaland state and a South-Eastern Nagaland state.
Meanwhile our eastern brethren have proved that they mean business by boycotting this year’s Hornbill festival. Next, they are likely to boycott the next state general elections if a way out for mutual good is not found soon. If the boycott sticks, scheduled elections in 40 out of 60 constituencies can be held anyway. But what if GoI cite the development as failure or disturbance of constitutional machinery and go for its solution akin to the one applied in J&K?
The consequences may include Abrogation of Art. 371(A), bifurcation of present Nagaland state into two union territories, namely, Nagaland and Frontier Nagaland and imposition of President Rule indefinitely (the last will be cause for joyful celebrations in the Naga world, though).
iv). Summing up the pessimistic conjecture.
The J& Kashmir precedent, the Ravi bugle (?), total integration, GoI –IM talks impasse, Demand for Frontier Nagaland-are we staring at a Damocles Sword?
K.T. Imchen
Merhulietsa, Kohima

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