Naga Quest for identity & Indian apathy
YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
It’s astounding to see that Asia’s longest running insurgency in the country of world largest democracy is yet to see its logical end. 62 years since, India still lack the wisdom and vision to solve the same.
When Nehru ordered for a military solution to the then surging Naga Nationalism he might have comprehended more of immediate victory than the impact it would have to the whole of NE and protracted conflict with Nagas in the long run nor the Nagas leaders themselves never comprehended of internal belligerency as of now. Nagas would never have been too finicky about their identity had it not been for the reckless military action of Govt. of India (GoI) which blew things out of proportion. The Nagas, located as such in a landlocked geography, sooner or later would have come to some sort of relationship with India and the NE as a whole would have been under relative peace. But the new India brimming with self-confidence of its large army and the Nagas as tiny as they were did not merit any second thought of the policy makers. India did occupy Nagaland and went ahead to establish Nagaland state which was intended with a smallest possible size hoping that Nagas would be appeased or too weak to fight if fragmented under different administration though Nagas favoured administration of all Naga inhabited areas, and the GoI had every means to grant the same without much brouhaha in the earlier days like the NE state reorganization act of 1972 and still can do so if it wants, but it just opt the colonial boundaries in Setu. Unfortunately, it became the problem of Manipur, Assam Arunachal and even Myanmar when nationalism spread there too. India failed to exorcised or win the Nagas even after posting a quarter of its 1.2 million strong army under intensive operation. The very fact that insurgency is deeply entrenched as ever testify that military solution failed. For any big power like India, to occupy is easy but the real problem is consolidation of its rule. Thus, the US debacle in Vietnam, USSR tragedy in Afghanistan and India in Nagaland, etc.
No set of people has borne the burnt of Indian military like the Nagas since independence. The army & paramilitary forces armed with plethora of extra ordinary power like AFSPA, created mayhem and collateral destruction never realizing that they were in a very foreign and sensitive terrain and any wrong move was likely to spark apocalyptic impact. They were sent to win the people not to vanquish them. If anything called fascist brutality exist than it happened in Nagaland Theatre. It is also unlikely for the military to stamp out insurgency even in the next hundred years but it is the Naga themselves that might oust the same reading the present displeasure of the people due to fratricidal mess. If the present trend exacerbate, people may try to discard them and the nationalist may try to exert iron grip, than the end can be anticipated.
It’s an irony that the very land of Gandhi through which the principle of non violence, Indian won independence could possibly enact as heinous a law like Arm Forces Special Power Act 1958(AFSPA) to subdue a tiny fraction of people in the periphery whose joining Indian union may or may not make much difference. This law violates 25 of the 30 Universal Declarations of Human Rights and undermines the constitution itself and defeats the very spirit of Indian federalism. The cruellest thing is that the victim and the affected can’t get justice from any court of law of India as section 7, sect. 45 and 197 of CrPc envisage complete immunity to the security personnel which is a grotesque legal abomination. Thus, if Nagas were killed torture raped etc. they can’t get justice even if they are innocent. Literally, AFSPA is not a law but a license to kill. This law became the violation of not the extremist per se but the innocent public. The GOI have to pay for the gross violation of human rights and civil liberties by the military through the imposition of AFSPA. The Australians have tendered apology to the aborigines, the Canadian to the Inuit’s Eskimos, the German to the Jews, Japanese to the Americans for Pearl Harbour, the British to the Indians for Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre, etc. If India wants to win the good will and confidence of the Naga and end rampant resentment and alienation, three things is indispensable:
1. Repeal AFSPA 2.Tender unconditional apology to Naga people 3.Bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice for crime against humanity. If this is done than it will instil confidence in Indian state and irreconcilable differences would soften and extremism may fizzle out in due time. GoI should know that they are dealing with entity that has never been part of India historically or culturally. In fact from Kashmir to Kanyikumari, from vadodara to Brahmaputra, there is no iota of similarity of culture with Nagas. Even today, Indian cultures simply don’t appeal to them whether it is Bollywood, Tollywood or whatever. Rather they apt west, Koreans etc. though it’s more of a life style then material advancement.
Nagas encountered chronic perils like any other people of the world affected by war. But the world is yet to know what exactly traversed their with acute media censorship by the military. Nagaland just don’t have oil to attract the west or it can’t effort to commit Rwanda or Cambodian type genocide to bring the world neither they aren’t religious fanatics like the Islamic Jihadis to sent suicide squads to the Indian metropolis to draw the world attention. The Christians worlds don’t evoke intrinsic brotherhood like the Mussalmen to generate support or sympathy for tiny Christian’s enclave like Nagaland. Nagas were bestridden and molested unseen and unheard by the world under Indian military might. But why did the Nagas still refuses to submit even after acute hardship? The simple logic is, men have feelings, self respect, dignity etc. if these rights are infringed upon, it draws sharp reprisal. For no sect of people would dare to fight a more well equip and larger foe with oddest weapon or march the most inhospitable terrain for thousand of kilometres waylaid by foes on all possible route if the situation is not of extreme magnitude. Nagas were small but independent minded and indomitable people for whom submitting to a marauding Indian military would be an undignified act just as any freedom loving people of the world would do.
It is also unlikely that the whole NE would be part of India if chances have them in the event of any severe internal conflict or foreign aggression weakening the central authority because people are not integrated mentally or emotionally and the good will of the people don’t rest with India. Democracy is farce in NE and all sorts of unusual things are happening like Irom sharmilla’s indefinite hunger strike for 10 straight years to repeal AFSPA, Govt. firing at democratic protesters, issuing price tag on civil society leaders, successive weeks of economic blockade, rampant corruption etc. India always percepts NE under one category and practically don’t consider them as full Indians. This lackadaisical yardstick is also palpable when India imposed AFSPA in NE and Nagaland without hesitation while is still refuses to use the army, leave alone AFSPA in its greatest internal security threat posed by Maoist insurgency. Millions of Indians don’t know where is Nagaland, sans the laymen, even lecturers and professors in the University knows nothing beyond the name of state. Needless to say it watches in glee when one community rises against another in NE because that really diverts them from fighting against India state.
No wonder, this apathy is hardly surprising when hitherto Indians state is projected as Govt. of the upper caste who are at every helms of Govt. apparatus. It is notorious for crushing political dissent, suppressing democratic voices specially of the lower caste while it have the knack of signing of all international treatise because it need not implement them. It has the trait of drifting towards authoritarian rule. The crux is that 3 of the world top ten riches person in the world are Indians while on the other hand, 72 percent of India goes to sleep hungry. It is also a country with highest consecration of illiterate population in the world. The caste ridden and corrupt Indian polity is so enormous that even the Supreme Court has lamented that even god can’t help India. One-fifth of Indians don’t enjoy right to freedom and dignity. Such society can hardly be peaceful and the Maoist uprising is the manifestation of lower caste movement who have been suppressed and oppressed for millennium. There is constant loss of vision of the India state’s approach to the socio-political turmoil.
But how do Naga marched forward here on, the first step is, set our house in order. The arduous task ahead is to bridge the widening gap between the nationalist and also the civil society, for which the dogged effort of FNR is hoped to anticipate to its successful fait accompli. It is rational prudence that there can be eastern, southern, or northern Naga organization but that represent only that area and not the Nagas as a whole. Thus, one apex Naga organization (both overground & underground) is indispensable for which every tribe should append for the greater interest of the Nagas especially in a situation like this. Indian is ten times wiser than us and it would never conclude settlement with one group and let the other group grow but it will try to prolong things until pressurized. Before dealing India or Myanmar, internal unification of all groups is imperative. This would resurrect the badly damaged nationalism especially among the young generation who has only seen Nagas killing Nagas.
While GoI when ahead to deeply entrench itself, Naga nationalist relapse to war of attrition among them and miserably failed to instil patriotism in the mind of the new generation due to their own mutual conflict. People have so much stakes in the Indian imposed state today, and most feasible thing is to continue political parlance while fostering nationalism along side. To dislodge the whole legacy would only do more harm than good.
Conflict within the Nagas themselves is an unfortunate part of Naga history which negates the very principle of the movement inter se, for which immediate reconciliation is necessary. Nagas need to reconcile with the past though past can be bitter because we don’t live in the past anymore. The perpetrator must seek forgiveness and the affected must forgive. If that can’t be done than Nagas shall languish in the quagmire for more years to come. If the leaders can’t visualize beyond factions, tribalism, etc. than they are dyslexic of envisioning a nation. When the world is marching into 21st century of peace and prosperity we dare to insulate ourselves in a ceaseless feud. When people in other part have reached the stars and space, excelling in science and technology it would be narcissistic pity to live in primitive age. Nagas need to march in consistence with the progress of the world. Development activities should go in full swings along side with political negotiation and the nationalist should encourage the same and even act as a check mate against corruption because as long as we are under India we deserve to get what is due to us and economic viability is the sine qua non for any nationhood. If integration can’t materialize, Nagas of those areas should be encouraged for an arrangement where their rights can be best protected and draw maximum benefit until opportunity merits to come together.
Nagas also need no foreign imported Chinese communism, Indian democracy or American federalism though using them as point of reference is indispensable. But it should grow from within the Nagas themselves rooted in tradition, accommodativeness and adaptability to the exigencies of time. What have Nagas contributed to the world of nationalism so far? The French contributed ‘liberty, equality, fraternity,’ the British Magna Carta, American bill of right, Eastern Europe socialism and South Africa and India have produced international icons like Mandela and Gandhi. Are Nagas only capable of fomenting trouble and division? Perhaps Naga Ideals could be inferred from tradition of equality embedded in high socio-cultural values and most importantly, a revolution against oppression and exploitation of the week by the strong which may spread in the neighbourhood and the world at large. If any revolution or upheavals don’t guarantee a better life, governance, rights, than the revolution is a waste inter se.
Sooner or later Nagas needs some sort of condominium political arrangement where we can frame own polices inter alia like sending our own diplomats to UN, etc. without supercession from outside even without complete break from India or Myanmar or even if we sent one or two representative it won’t matter much to us due special political arrangement . The paraphernalia of any settlement should be based by this ipso facto. If the GOI accrue to such modus vivendi, will the Nagas say amen or it is the GOI that will never yield. Than conflict is still inevitable but if that materialize, than the Nagas as a distinct identity if secured and conflict need not proceed further. State is not a primordial entity and if the state can not fulfil its raison d’etre, than the units have every right to assert their own authority according to a la carte of universal law of right to self determination.
Indian should realize that for stability in mainland, stability in NE is imperative, for stability in NE solving Nagaland is indispensable. Conflict in Nagaland will always spilled to NE and proliferates to mainland. But at the end of the day Nagas themselves would be the final arbiter of their own destiny. The foremost thing is speak with One Voice.
Naga Quest for identity & Indian apathy