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Protective Thinking: Territorial Integration, Flag or Constitution?

Mr. Pakinrichapbo (Advocate)
Samziuram Village, Peren Nagaland

Northeast Live News Anchor Mr. Wasbir Hussian in its Northeast Tonight edition hosted a live discussion titled “Way to Naga Peace” on 18.09.19, the panellists includes tall figures from Nagaland and Assam. Among the many questions the Anchor Hussian posed to the panellists, one particular question which Nagas should not just let it go without further deliberation was, “are you optimistic of an early solution to the Naga problems?” One of the panellists, Mr. Sushanta Talukdar, a senior journalist, also shared that the Central Government should not rush to the process fixing time limit but try to bring all groups together for amiable solution.
I had to come out with this small piece, as I am not optimistic at all about the early solution to the Naga problems. Some of the reasons why I cannot be optimistic of an early solution to Naga problems are as follows:
Territorial Integration
As an outsider, one does not have access to the plans of the NSCN-IM and NNPGs negotiators to bring territorial integration of all Naga contiguous areas under single administrative roof. However, more than twenty years of negotiation and statements issued by the NSCN-IM show that it continue to hold GoI responsible for the unification of all the Naga territories. Yet, after the breakdown of first negotiation with the Federal Govt. of Nagaland (1966-67)—for more consult “Why repeat the 1960s” by Benito Z Swu in Nagaland post dated 03.05.19—later rejection of Suisa Proposal by AZ Phizo lead NNC, GoI made its position clear that territorial integration is out of the picture. Its latest position on Naga territorial integration was displayed when Mr. R. N. Ravi, interlocutor turned Governor of Nagaland, informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha (while sharing the 213th report on the security situation in the North-eastern States) that the Nagas had now reached a common understanding with the government that “boundaries of the States will not be touched” and “some special arrangements would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are.” (The Hindu dated 19.07.18, Details of Naga Agreement emerged). Of course NSCN-IM still maintained that “No integration, no solution”. The question is will GoI changed its policy within three months?
It’s difficult to fathom what comes next, unless territorial integration is achieved, NSCN-IM hold on the Naga tribes may not remain as it is of now, and only time and future will be the judge of it. Not to forget the mainland journalists and Manipur based media houses love to tag NSCN-IM as a Naga Government in exile. As such without territorial integration it is likely to remain as a Government in exile.
Honestly speaking Naga flag is really beautiful, more beautiful than the Indian National flag or the German National Flag. Thanks to our fine Rengma ladies and Gentleman who had beautifully woven and designed it. The larger question is? What purpose does the flag serves when Nagas are still placed under different administrative roof, where inter-tribe relations continuous to remain sour. We must remind ourselves that regionalism has bypassed Naga nationalism, most common Nagas feeling no belongingness with fellow common Nagas. What’s more, underground and over-ground decisions makers and general population are more focus on building tribe influences, and list can go on. Nagas have waved the Naga National Flag for more than 70 years, but can’t the people think how to wave off the diseases caused by our extreme love of our village, clan, range and tribe system. For many prosperous nations, their national flag had united the citizens cutting across ethnicity, language and cultures, but for us, village thinking, clan thinking, range thinking and tribe thinking had put the people in such a mess that the people still make unity call at this final hour. Ambedkar in its attack on evils of Hindu Caste system brilliantly pointed out that, “You cannot build anything on the foundation of caste.” Nagas attempted to build sovereign Naga Nation on the foundation of village and tribe, the current situations is the result of it. Moreover, studying the 14 Naga tribes living under single administrative roofs of the State of Nagaland, some tribes wanted separate administration on account of bad governance, etc. Such outcome within Nagaland is a subject for serious in-depth research and study instead of brushing it off.
For several decades, Naga nationalists could not carry out democratic debate due to the customs and habits of a primitive tribal man, a person will quickly label his disagreeing opponents as traitor leading to violent clashes. For a typical Naga man, raising his hand has become his second nature. But now, one witness massive changes in the behaviour of the Naga Nationalists of all ranks in different factions. Before dwelling on Naga Constitution, let me remind that GoI acted against the 16- Point Agreement on several occasion, for example in 1972, Nagaland was quietly and unilaterally transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs from the ministry of External Affairs (P-42, The Naga Imbroglio- a personal perspective by Charles Chasie). The Central Government curtailed the Nagaland State Government to carry out oil and natural gas exploration citing it as the “exclusive domain” of the centre, despite State Government claim of 371A giving power to the State. People may say Naga peace talks and statehood is different matter, but the people are the same. Will GoI feel safe to grant more power or autonomy to see the Indian legal structure getting destroyed at midnight after recognizing the Naga Constitution?
In such reality, if Nagas still dream of a nation, first step to save the idea of Naga Nation is to achieve territorial integration, leaving other matters to be settled later on.

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