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Friday, September 17, 2021

When the deaf talk


The unending talks between the NSCN (IM) and the government are indicative of a stalemate. Unless the Naga factions unite, the cause is futile
TSI EDIT BUREAU | Issue Dated: December 24, 2006
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When the deaf talk The union government seems to have killed two birds by creating an impasse in the talks with Naga leaders at Amsterdam – fuelling an ongoing feud among Naga factions and buying peace for itself.

The government's delegation, led by Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes and former Home Secretary K. Padmanabhaiah, didn’t agree to the demand of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) for having a separate constitution for Nagaland, having a separate flag, federal relations with Indian government besides integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Imphal visit, a day prior to the talks, had laid the ground for the impasse by rejecting redrawing of state boundaries. The Indian delegation at best assured the Naga leaders of making some amendments in the Indian Constitution, granting special status to the state like Jammu and Kashmir. But, Naga leaders weren’t ready to climb down for two reasons. Any climb down will be seen as betrayal to the Naga cause. Having seen the fate of signatories to 1975 Shimla Accord, none of the NSCN (IM) leaders want to take the risk. Secondly, it will put them at par with NSCM (SS Khaplang) and Naga National Council leaders.

The deadlock, meanwhile, has fuelled the internecine war between IM and K factions of the NSCN with both trying to eliminate each other. A major fight has broken out among the two factions within towns and forest areas. About 200 NSCN (IM) militants recently attacked K-cadre near Zunheboto town with mortars and grenades. The fight lasted for about 10 hours inflicting heavy casualties to both sides. The battle ended only after arrival of reinforcement of K-militants. Indian forces watched the battle in silence. An enraged Khaplang faction – dominated by Sema community – ordered the Tangkhul community to leave Nagaland by the end of December. Most of the NSCN (IM) cadre consists of Tangkhul community, 90% of which inhabits four hill districts of Manipur – Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel. Even IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah is a Tangkhul who was born and brought up in Ukhrul in Manipur. “Muivah has become a Korean citizen by marriage and doesn’t live in Nagaland for the past 35 years. He has no right to represent Nagaland in talks. Government of India and the latter should rather talk to us”, a statement by the NSCN (K) said.

Once the seed of community-based distrust were sown among the Nagas, inter-faction defection has started. A number of Sema commandants have quit the IM faction, informed sources said. Both factions have accused each other of being Indian agent. Indian army was helping the K-faction to pressurise the negotiating IM leaders in Amsterdam. Muivah sought the Indian delegation's intervention in checking the fratricidal war and extradition of Tangkhuls from Nagaland. Analysts in Kohima doubt the success of an Indo-Naga accord unless all sections of Naga society are taken into confidence.

The first step therefore, should be to involve the apex tribal committee Naga Hoho and the Christian church, to first organise unity talks among the Naga factions, and then to talk to other communities living in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal. By talking endlessly to India alone, NSCN (IM) will never find a lasting solution and won’t be able to stop the resonance of guns and explosions in Naga hills.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017