Dimapur, Jan 4: The armed struggle against the Indian government since the Shillong Accord of 1975 saw the rise of The National Socialist Council of Nagaland which sought to establish a sovereign Naga state.
The Shillong accord required the Naga rebel groups to surrender their arms and accept the supremacy of the Indian constitution. The founders of the NSCN believed that the accord had compromised on the demand for a sovereign Naga state that included Naga-inhabited districts in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam.
Recently, Anthony Ningkhan Shimray addressed this volatile situation after a few months of his release on bail from the jail. His information to Caravan and other sources suggested that more than a hundred talks of peace have already taken place between the government and the NSCN.
It was found that there was no headway in the talks for so long. All the while it has only been talks and negotiations and nothing more. Unsuccessful attempts to free Nagaland frustrated and made the Indian government look even more suspicious. “What was needed was friendship in the first place to resolve this political issue”. And military solution was not the key nor was it possible.
In an interview with a reporter from Caravan, Shimray revealed that he has and never had trust for the government as was Muivah and said your armed forces had done great damage to us by enforcing draconian laws like AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act], TADA [Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act].
“Why talk to you when you tried to finish us? After the follow up of Shillong Accord, you unleashed all military might: burning, pilfering towns, calling [India’s] own Naga people as people of Malaysia, and killing and even raping a lot of people. It’s not that easy to trust not just the Indian government by anything at all after the 20-25 years of struggle and past experience.”
Rajesh Pilot, he was very sincere. I was surprised to see him that way. But the way he treated us, it was a very friendly conducive atmosphere. He said [that] we [the government of India] have done everything with you [the Naga people], and this time we have come to realise that it [peace process] can’t be through the military.
Shimray made it clear that the talks not only yielded nothing circumstantial or beneficial but the indian government did not even keep it’s word.
He, however, recalls, former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the only one to recognise the unique history of Naga. He recognised us as humans and more than terrorists.
Nothing is assured says Shimray of the talks as well even in the current context as so it was in the earlier days. Gaps and voids and nothing, it is only when radical moves, or seemingly radical moves are made that talks would resume.
It was more that just a mere separtation if a Naga state is to form a sovereign body recalls Shimray, it is more about security and defence and reliance that a neighbour would extend a hand of peace and mutual co-existence. Also, We will be the owners of our land and resources.
Irrespective of PM Modi’s wishes for peace and mutual understanding, the creation of new districts in Manipur are seen as a breach of the Framework Agreement, notes Shimray which may affect the ceasefire.
Narrating his ordeal to Caravan reporter, Shimray recalls his arrest which was to him nothing more than a kidnapping as he was immediately blindfolded and taken away by a small group of men in civil dresses. His ordeal was nothing short of a political juggle he reminds.
The demands of the Nagas were never, nor will it be about what was not their own. They too long for peace even the organisations opposing the governing body to realise their dream of having not just their cultural legacy reclaimed. “Yet, After my arrest, I was made a permanent member of the peace talks. I want to leave behind my days in prison. I want to move forward with peace.”
(Source: Caravan Magazine)
(Featured Image Source: Internet/ Representational)