Indian Govt: 'We have done our part' :: Dr Puyam Rakesh
Govt of India inks agreement with NSCN (IM) on August 03 2015 :: Pix - Press Information Bureau
Sound of fire-crackers, the Jadonang Park, Ukhrul thanksgiving and press notes celebrating the Naga accord are all parts of Manipur history. It is difficult to say anything about the 'framework agreement' with certainty. But we cannot remain passive. The search for certainty in the dark cloud of uncertainty is not our choice. It has been an imposition. It is the secrecy that makes things very uncertain and speculative. For those who stand for the territorial integrity of Manipur, the signing of the accord without consulting the state government says a lot more things. Keeping the contents of the accord secret increased the clarity.
Those in the corridor of power in New Delhi love to play their own game. Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will have their own choices. There should be agreed rules and regulations. Two different teams cannot play a game with different rules. Whose rules will prevail? It is happening in a democratic country. The people, transparency and accountability are the vocabularies in the dictionary of democracy. Without these words, democracy is sham. Unfortunately, the word 'authoritarian' crept into the very dictionary. Can it get a new different meaning? Here the word 'power' comes into the scene. Power is what power does.
The people of Manipur have gone through many phases as part of the Indian Union since 1949. They know how the Indian federalism works. The Merger Agreement, Eighth Schedule demand for Manipuri language, statehood demand, repeal AFSPA movement, June 18 Uprising and Inner Line Permit demand were the class lectures given by New Delhi. "India is a militarily powerful state", Delhi recites the line every day. Manipur is the land where military power meets the people's power. It is our history and our daily experience. Nobody can deny it. Now, New Delhi has another lesson called 'Naga Peace Accord'.
Some of the NSCN (IM) leaders are very old. They must be having their own thoughts on the protracted peace process. After all, they are human beings who have their needs and wants. Isak Chishi Swu was hospitalised. Thuingangleng Muivah is not fit for battlefield. There are younger leaders but any lengthy peace process can become a boring task. Getting something concrete after sacrificing so much is desirable. The number of Naga armed groups increased during this period. The Naga family is vulnerable to discords and bloodshed. Every sane being will agree to this. It is a wise step to get something concrete before things fall apart
What are the core demands? Sovereignty and integration of Naga areas are considered very crucial. Without fulfilling some (if not all) core demands, NSCN (IM) will lose its face after opposing past accords for compromising with sovereignty demand. Consolidating the Naga family of various tribes and interest groups is not within the reach of the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. Such a unified stand of the Nagas may not serve New Delhi pundits. They know better. However, NSCN (IM) is still a powerful force. The group has not lost the faith of a large section of the family. The leaders know the pressing need for delivering something. The sooner it gets delivered, the better things will be for the leadership spearheading the movement.
In the board game of 'Kei-Yen', any single move can turn the relative strength or advantage of the player in his favour or against himself. There is always the fear of making wrong moves. The NSCN (IM) is promoted, in one sense, by the Indian State to win the good faith of its leadership to change the course of history in the region. It is a game of using NSCN (IM)'s strength/influence in favour of New Delhi's calculated policy. In fact, the Government of India knows that losing this group will be a great loss. Its strength and survival as a force to be reckoned with, is not a problem as long as it is consciously or unconsciously willing to serve the so-called national interests. And just read it as a win-win solution.
The abrogation of ceasefire agreement by NSCN (K) was a bitter pill that Prime Minister Modi had to swallow. It was not just about the loss of some lives in the NSCN (K)'s armed attacks in Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur. It is about the loss of faith in New Delhi's peace process. The political score made by NSCN (K) move was not negligible. After this, New Delhi cannot send the message that it is not willing to walk the extra mile for peaceful settlement. Its sincerity has to be re-claimed in the eyes of the people.
As a result, the NSCN (IM) became the good guy waiting for the right time to get Prime Minister Modi's political blessing. Did Khaplang group's change of course favour Muivah's party? Truly speaking, a better ground for bargaining was established in the wake of the ceasefire abrogation by Khaplang group. To make things look good, Isak Chisi Swu's hospitalisation was exploited to make the move. Media also made everything look more edible and delicious. Heartfelt messages from India's Prime Minister and other leaders for their sincere efforts to bring a solution to the vexed Naga issue scored well.
New Delhi knows very well that there are many groups in the Naga family fighting for different interests. There are people who are against the NSCN (IM), aspiring different goals. To some extent, New Delhi proved its sincerity and showed political will to crack the hard nut. The peace deal is in the news. If they cannot give much to the good guy, it is because of the strong opposition from the neighbours. If there are differences in the Naga family, that is not New Delhi's problem.
At present, New Delhi is reciting a verse: We are willing to give as much as we can. We have kept our promise. Any failure in fulfilling the Naga dream will not be our responsibility. Such problems can arise from the Naga family's crisis and bad neighbours. Delhiwallahs will cross their hands and legs after this. In this situation, who will be the victims? The answer is in the tip of every thinking Tom's tongue.
For the peace brokers in Delhi, saying that the territorial boundaries of the northeast states will not be re-drawn is not the fine line to hide their true colours. They must come up with an explanation on why the three congress chief ministers were not consulted before signing the framework agreement. Again, they are keeping the contents of the accord in the dark. The modus operandi was undemocratic in every sense. Some people can grope for fish in the dark night. To be honest, the lack of transparency in reaching a political solution for peace and development in the Naga areas is the very light that makes things clear. Every observer who is not snoring at the moment can see that.
After many rounds of talks in foreign soils, the NSCN (IM) leadership came back to India to test the water in New Delhi. They have tasted the political air in India. Their international support base and vibrancy of the movement have collectively taught them the lesson of proper marketing. One cannot sell a thing in the right price for higher profit without knowing how to sell it well. These leaders attached to the Hebron Camp know the art of selling for a bigger piece of the Pie. Cartographic nationalism is one such thing.
Territory inhabited by the Naga tribes is vast and it is located in a very strategic region lying between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, China and Myanmar. The areas inhabited by the Naga-cognate ethnic groups are also in the map. Asserting the Nagas as the master race in the region is also a good advertisement. Modi administration wants to buy what Muivah group is selling. Without a firm control in northeast, the 'Act East' policy is not making progress for expanding India's strategic interests in Southeast Asia.
Two ways are better than one way. The Chinese naval force is modernising and expanding in a fast rate. The Indian Ocean is becoming a lake for the Chinese navy. The guns in the northeast must be silenced to make proper use of the strategic region. When geo-economics is becoming the trend of the century, Prime Minister Modi and Ato Kilonser Muivah must be talking about business. The business acumen of the Gujarati leader and Muivah's opening the gate to Southeast Asian market passing through the Naga areas are worth studying. They have to face landslides if they are for it. It is a serious business indeed.
In addition to the difficulty to establish a pan-Naga body, there is curiosity to know the kind of sovereignty that the Nagas will enjoy under any new arrangement. Article 370 has been the target of the Modi camp for a long time. The nationalist Hindu groups get eye sores to see a Muslim-majority state bordering Pakistan to have autonomous status. Any sort of shared sovereignty is likely to be opposed by the nationalist camp followers if it can threaten the integrity of the country. Giving the new entity some space within the Ministry of External Affairs or making a mechanism to work in partnership will be a valuable experience of the Indian federalism. Or, will New Delhi use the groups opposing the NSCN (IM) to cut the share of the harvest? Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi knows the rest of the subject.