For nearly 70 years, the history of the Naga people has been filled with tragedies and atrocities. Countless number of dialogues and agreements have been made between the Government of India and the people of Nagaland. A lot of viewpoints and opinions have emerged and everyone has an opinion on the latest framework agreement but they are also apprehensive to voice it out. For a lot of the younger generation in the colleges and schools today, they have no first-hand experience of what transpired in the 70’s and the 80’s. Accordingly, a glimpse into the minds of Generation Y was provided during the Tetso Autumn Festival 2015. An essay competition was held on the topic “Give your views on the signing of the accord between the NSCN(IM) and the GOI. Will it result in a viable solution to the question of Naga sovereignty?“ Below is a compilation of the two winning essays. Kindly note that the views expressed are an attempt by the youth to understand the situation. While every attempt has been made to check any factual information stated in the essays, errors if any are inadvertent and regretted.
Naga Peace Accord: A Young Mind’s Perspective
Nagaland has always been independent long before the British came to our lands. When India received its independence in 1947 from the British, the British government had also agreed to make Nagaland an independent state. But the British left India without giving sovereignty to the Nagas. It was the greatest betrayal. . Since then Nagas has been fighting for its freedom from the Government of India for decades. Many Nagas have lost their lives and families, villages have been burnt to ashes. Countless women have been tortured and raped. Under the leadership of A. Z. Phizo (President of Naga National Council), the Nagas have fought hard to regain its freedom and realize the dream of all of being an independent state. Over the years many groups have come up in Nagaland with the aim of attaining independence from the Government of India.
On 11th November, 1975, The Shillong Accord was signed. It was an agreement made between the Government of India and representatives of Nagaland's underground organization, to accept the supremacy of Constitution of India without condition, surrender their arms and renounce their demand for the secession of Nagaland from India. Many people in Nagaland who believed in forming an independent nation saw this accord as a denial of their rights.
NSCN was formed on 31 January 1980 by Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S.S. Khaplang opposing the Shillong Accord. In 1988, NSCN split into two with NSCN-IM headed by Isak Chishi Swu & Thuingaleng Muivah and NSCN-K headed by S.S. Khaplang. Peace-talks amidst incidents of violence pursued ever since. A ceasefire was finally signed between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM in 1997 as a way to peacefully negotiate terms.
The NSCN-IM has become the main focus of media attention after signing another Peace Accord with the Government of India on 3rd August, 2015. “We are making a new beginning today. 60 years is a long time of fighting, the wounds are deep,” Modi, standing alongside NSCN-IM secretary general and co-founder Thuingaleng Muivah, said in a press conference following the signing of the Accord. This agreement is said to be a landmark agreement in the history of the Nagas and is supposed to lead the Naga people to sovereignty, but even though months have passed, the people do not know the exact details of the agreement. Though this agreement is supposed to decide the future of thousands of people, the public seem to be kept in the dark and they still don’t know what was decided between the leaders.
This mysterious agreement also raises other questions. Will Nagaland receive its sovereignty through this Peace Accord? Who do we turn to for answers? Hypothetically, if the Accord clears the pathway for India to grant sovereignty to the Nagas, will the public agree to be an independent nation? If the Accord prevents the Nagas from demanding a free nation, then perhaps it isn’t a great thing after all. By the looks of it, right now, keeping in mind how the details of the agreement are still unclear, the talk about sovereignty may be sidelined for a while.
Why have Nagas still not achieved independence? When these questions arise, there are many views which can be discussed. Firstly, the factional groups through taxes, extorting money from the public, threatening of the people has caused havoc in our society, our society is filled with chaos and confusion as to whether to trust the factional groups or to be on our own. Secondly, there are still those who work sincerely for true cause of our land and the remaining simply spoil the system. Suspicion, mistrust, uncertainty has led our people into chaos. Unless the Nagas as a whole are united, there is no meaning of attaining or achieving sovereignty as it would lead to more conflict and chaos in the future.
This so called ‘solution’ that has been debated about for so many years now, still seems to be far away. As long as the leaders continue to be secretive and keep the people in the dark, no real solution can be achieved. In the end, it is the people who should have the authority and freedom to make the right choice for themselves. To arrive at a real solution, public opinion, voices, and grievances should have been heard and taken into account while framing the Accord. Therefore, this “Framework Agreement”, needs to be scrutinized and explained in detail to the Nagas.
Thus, this alleged “Landmark Agreement” may be a milestone in Nagaland’s race towards sovereignty, but it is still only a milestone, and the destination is still far away. Let us not forget that. May we never give up hope, but strive for a better world where we all have our rights, and are treated equally, and live in a free Nagaland, free from oppression of any kind. Our dreams are yet to be achieved. But if it comes down to this recent agreement, I hardly believe it is going to solve our problems.