Can Mr Muivah pull it off?
Going by the varied response to it in the last few days, the signing of the historic Naga Peace Accord the other day may not be a matter for celebration, after all.
The contents of the Accord have not been made known, but everybody is agreed that the Accord is just a framework. And for all we know, there may not be much of a content to the Accord yet apart from the fact that the understanding between the negotiating parties are to be within the ambit of the Constitution of India. Symbolism such as a separate flag may be granted to the Naga people, but whether this will be accepted by the people as something they want after decades of strife and turmoil, remains to be seen. However, fortification of Article 371 A, working out an assurance that this Article will not be amended by the Parliament, and bargaining for more powers under this Article of the Constitution for the Naga people will certainly be acceptable given the fact that hardliners within the Union Government have openly declared they would do away with Article 370 and introduce Uniform Civil Code if they get the requisite numbers in the Parliament. (Ban on Beef in some States is an indication of the shape of things to come our way, though the saving grace is that BJP-ruled and Hindu-majority State Goa has not imposed the ban.)
As it is, the Accord seems to be more of a Discord than anything else with all and sundry demanding that the contents of the Accord be made known, with some organizations going as far as to say this Accord has to do with Nagas of Manipur and not with Nagas of Nagaland and Myanmar or of other States. On social media, many have raised questions as to what will happen now that the NSCN (IM) has come to some understanding with the Government of India after decades of promising and killing in the name of Integration and Sovereignty.
But be that as it may, the need of the hour is to have a positive mindset and to work out a solution which will benefit the future Naga generations, not the ego of the present generation. Futility of violence must be an acknowledged fact for all generations to come. We have had decades of violence in all form, and we must let the future generations learn from our bitter experiences – violence does not pay. Sovereignty was a concept dear to a generation half a century ago, but with the changes that have swept over the world, priorities have changed and must change and truth should be differentiated from fallacies: Sovereignty does not ensure a better life, it does not promise to make us better citizens and individuals, and most importantly, it does not ensure us two-square meals a day! And this is something which should be understood by all sections of the Naga society. What good does it do to a people to cry for the moon when the people cannot even reach the rafters? And why ask for skyscrapers when the ground itself is shaky and unstable? It would be better if we are to work on our thatch house now that the skeletal framework has been erected. It will now depend on us, the Naga people whether we will live under the shelter of the thatch house, or to go on struggling for something that could not be achieved in more than half a century, and continue to sleep under starry nights hazarding the elements.
The signing of the Accord is historic and ground-breaking but the greater challenge ahead for all of us is ahead. The challenges reposed on the Nagas as a whole by the Prime Minister to be the guardians of the Eastern frontiers of the country; to make the country stronger and more inclusive with our talents and tradition should be met squarely with concerted efforts by the Naga people as one. The challenge is more so for Mr Muivah of the NSCN (IM) being the architect of the Accord in discussion. For him particularly, it is time for reality check. His greatest challenge will come in the days to come. And it is going to be a gruelingly testing time for all, especially Mr Muivah, to show his statesmanship, his dexterity, his political acumen. Can he, will he take into confidence the other factions of the Naga underground? Is he going to take on board his oft-quoted caravan the various sections of the Naga people? Or rather, will the other factions kow-tow his line? Can he speak on behalf of all sections of the Naga people? How is he going to convince his cadres and also the Naga people that he is working in their best interest? What is he planning to work out to convince the people of Nagaland that they will be getting something better than what they already have, namely, Statehood? The NSCN (IM) has been claiming all these years that it has the mandate of the Naga people. Now, how is it going to prove it to the Government of India, to itself, and to the Naga people themselves that it is a mandated organization?
In short, can Mr Muivah pull off this one? Or do we have another Shillong Accord coming our way?
By Sebastian Zumvu
(The writer belongs to a political party. These are his personal views.)