I Beg To Differ, Mr Home Minister!


I beg to differ with your decision, Mr Home Minister, to extend the coverage of the Disturbed Area Act to the entire State of Nagaland. I am aware that the move was necessitated by the decision of the NSCN(K) to abrogate the 14-year old ceasefire agreement with the Government of India and the resultant various acts of violence and bloodshed against the Indian Security forces resulting in loss of many lives. Your Intelligence Bureau, Mr Home Minister, must have updated you on the fact that the abrupt decision of the NSCN (K) came as a big surprise and a disappointment to the general public. Yes, the Naga public are fed up of continued violence and have had a breather of sorts when ceasefires were signed with the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN(K) in 1997 and 2001 respectively with the Government of India and hostilities greatly ceased and comparative peace and quiet prevailed. But the NSCN (K)'s decision to abrogate the ceasefire was unilateral and has not gone down well with the populace. Organisations, including political parties have resolved to send feelers to the NSCN (K) leadership to do a re-think on its decision in the general interest of the people they, the NSCN (K) profess to struggle for. Now, Mr Home Minister, we understand your boys on the ground need to have special protection to carry out operations against insurgents and terrorists, and that for this you need the draconian and archaic AFSPA which will not come into force if the area or areas you have in mind do not come under the umbrella of the Disturbed Area Act.

But how really "disturbed" are the other cities, towns and villages in the larger part of Nagaland? They are, I am sure you will agree with me, by and large very peaceful compared to some of the villages and areas near the international border with Myanmar where certain cadres move in and out of the country for dubious reasons and purposes. The DAA was enforced in 20-kilometre belt along the international boundaries, and we quite appreciate the need to have it so. But the whole of Nagaland? It is crystal clear that you want to have military operations throughout the breadth and width of Nagaland. For a handful of armed cadres, you are now going to turn the entire State upside down into a battle arena. For a swarm of pestilence, you are going ahead with plans to drop a nuclear bomb! You are prepared to fire the Bofor guns to get rid of a mosquito? Perhaps, you are about to fire a rocket launcher to get rid of a fly on the wall? Indeed, an over kill. No more, no less. And have you considered that collateral damages your operations would bring about? What will happen to the goodwill that you have earned from majority of the populace with your PR and MCAs in the last 10 years or more? A single atrocity on your part will without doubt alienate thousands of the people from you. Goodwill with the Nagas, you will find, is hard to get, but is very easy to lose, Mr Home Minister. Therefore, I beg to differ with your justification of extending the DAA to the whole of Nagaland. It will do more harm than good to the integrity of the Indian nation, a concept which has not put on adequate flesh in these parts of the country.

I beg to differ with you, Mr NSCN (IM), when you said that you are the torch bearer of Naga nationalism all these decades; that you have the legitimate right to collect taxes in Nagalim; and that you will execute tax defaulters. You must keep in mind that what was once a people's movement, like when the Naga populace gave its unflinching support and mandate to the NNC, is now fragmented into the various factions. No doubt you have internationalized the Naga problem much more effectively than any others in recent times; no doubt you have some of the most dedicated leaders in the form of Uncles Muivah and Isak; no doubt you are better organized than the rest. But mandate? No, you cannot claim that the mandate of the Naga people is with you. Your claim of having the mandate of the people sounds as hollow as the claims made by the other factions. Factually speaking, whether one likes it or not, the mandate of the people of Nagaland now lies with their elected representatives in the Government of Nagaland because, all these decades, they the electorate have been participating in the democratic process of electioneering within the Constitution of India and they have been reaping the benefits, no matter how meager, of their franchise.

Just because I have a catapult and have been promising the farmers in my locality all these years that I would shoot down or chase away the insects, birds and beasts which destroy their plantations ensuring a bountiful harvest to them, a service I have never rendered, does not mean I have the legitimate right to collect taxes from them. I could demand, and I might get from some weak-hearted and feeble-minded. But my collection would lack legitimacy and I stand liable to be prosecuted by the laws of the land. Likewise, when the Naga movement for self determination was a people's movement, the people gave taxes, or to be more accurate, gave their contributions to the movement, without any hesitation. But now, it is a different ball game altogether: nowadays, people do not want to give, and when they give they do so facing the business-end of the Gun. Yes, I differ with you, NSCN (IM) on your claim to legitimacy of collecting taxes, and possession of people's mandate.

I also beg to differ with you, NSCN (R) when you tell the Naga people that you are the Golden Goose for us and that we are, or we will reap the benefits of your efforts. You too, claim that you are struggling for the Naga people and that the wishes and aspirations of the Nagas are your guiding principles. Thank you very much for fighting for us, for fighting for our cause. But the way I see it, your strength lies not in the number of cadres armed with sophisticated weapons; your strength lies in the support of the people. Without the people, there is no cause for you to take up; without the people, you'd be reduced to rebels-without-cause! Without the people, you will be like fish out of water; like flies without carrion; like men without air. Yes sir, I differ with your contention that you are the Golden Goose. The way I see it, the people are the Golden Goose, and you are the representative of that Golden Goose if not the beneficiary.

I beg to differ with you, too, Mr NSCN (K) when you abrogated the ceasefire agreement with the Government of India without consulting the people you claim to represent. It is not something unlike the representatives of some Assembly Constituencies joining up a dissident camp in their attempt to over-thrown their own Ministry without consulting the constituents! But certainly, it is not too late to talk over things and come back to the path that the people would like you to follow. What I seriously differ with you, Mr NSCN (K) is on your decision to issue notice to a certain telecom operator to get out of a district.

You have not informed us in any manner that you have been asking the particular operator to improve its services in the district. Far from it, we have been told that in perfect consonance with the "local dynamics", you have asked for a certain amount to be paid to you, which the operator could not oblige. And when telecom services in the district was badly affected for some days, the general public took up the matter and asked everyone concerned that a reasonable amount should be paid, which got your goat and you went ballistic! I am convinced, Sir, that the continuance or departure of this particular operator from the district or the State will certainly not contribute anything to the Naga cause or take away anything. The sober truth is that the hundreds and thousands of the particular company's SIM card holders will be grievously hampered if the said company closes shop.

Having said that, I beg to place a plea: Let the Good for the citizenry overcome the Bad in everything anyone does.

God Bless

 By Sebastian Zumvu

(The write belongs to a political party. These are his personal views)