OPINION OF THE CONCERNED SENIOR CITIZENS’ FORUM OF MOKOKCHUNG SUBMITTED TO
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP WHO VISITED MOKOKCHUNG ON 28.07.06
FILE NO.1. NAGAS ARE A GROUP OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
The Nagas are highly organized group of people who belong to Mongoloid stock of race, migrated from South East Asia who came across the present Myanmar. After crossing Irrawady can Chinwin rivers, landed in different parts of the present Northeast India. They have strong sense of attachment to their village and tribal organisation and its traditional bound controlling system. They are a group of homogeneous people who have been practicing independent living even before the advent of Britishers. That is why the pioneering British administrators, anthropologists and American Missionaries were amazed to see the socio-political system of the Nagas during early 19th century. They were in fact, surprised to see well-defined Naga people and also the well-organised system of village administration based on purist democratic principles in their own way. Indeed, the Nagas system of democracy was well known to the British colonizers who appreciated the working system of Naga democracy. This is considered as one of finest social capitals which they had inherited from their ancestors. As indigenous people, they have been living in their own well-defined territory following common history, culture and customs, maintaining their self-governing system free from any alien powers. Today, the working system of Tribal Council and Naga Hobo demonstrates the characteristics of indigenous people. Interestingly, the Nagas have first taken tribal oath in their respective tribal level followed by national oath in 1951 expressing their genuine self-will to live together as one family member. This demonstrates oneness of the Nagas desiring to live together having common history, common culture, customs, tradition, common racial and ethnic ties, common geographical location and political identity as they belong to the same source of origin and migration. Nobody in this earth can deny such unique history of the Nagas and the present socio-political situation created by the colonizers and maintaining its continuity.
WHY THE NAGAS ARE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?
The concept of indigenous people is a matter of controversial issue in search of a given identity. No single definition can speak about the reality of its term. Moreover, different countries may follow different approaches towards understanding of its term. In the present context of Indo-Naga issue, many are still confused as to whether Nagas are indigenous people or not. If they are indigenous people, what makes them to be indigenous and if so, what are the rights of indigenous peoples like the Nagas needs to be addressed here.
The International Labour Organisation Convention No.69 of 1989 defines in article 1(b) indigenous people as “people in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonization of the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.”
On the matters of Naga indigenous people, certain people are still confused why the Nagas are indigenous people because they belong to a distinct nation having colear political membership with all the characteristics of a peoplehood. Therefore, they cannot be treated as indigenous people. They claim that the status of the nationhood is much higher than the status of indigenous peoples. A nation cannot be rated with that of the indigenous people. Therefore, they do not belong to indigenous peoples. They are a nation but not indigenous people. However, many scholars do not accept this opinion because whole world is forming into one nation where many ethnic groups like that of the Nagas and their political identity needs to be polished in the light of indigenous peoples’ rights as self determined group for their own survival. Therefore, it is to be understood that Nagas are indigenous people who posses all the characteristics that qualify them to be indigenous peoples of the world as envisaged in U.N. definitions of the term ‘Indigenous People.’ Nagas are aboriginal people in their land and therefore, they are, no doubt, belonged to indigenous people no matter whatever argument may arise. This debate needs little further elaboration to draw a scientific based definition with more illustrations.
At present, there are over 51 million indigenous peoples in India. By and large all tribal communities are regarded as indigenous people in India that includes the Naga tribes. Today, the all indigenous people of the world are forming a type of the Fourth World countries in the global scenario . Celebration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on this day even in Mokokchung illustrates this direction.
To make sure, let us see some of the definitions adopted by U.N. Working Group and other International Level Organisations like the World Bank, International Labour Organisations and International Human Right Organisations on the term indigenous people that will lead us towards understanding of its term.
In one of the U.N. Working Groups on Indigenous Population in 1982, the first part of the working definition reads as:
“Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time of when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world and overcome them, British and India) by conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial situation who today live more conformity with their particular social economic and cultural customs and traditions than with institutions of the country of which they now for a part, under a status structure which incorporates mainly the national, social and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant.”
According to the above definition, Nagas are the most appropriate to be termed as indigenous people because they are the original inhabitants in their own territory and the real descendants of their ancestors. While they were living in their territory, the British imperialist forces came to their territory and forcefully occupied a part of their territory against the wishes of the original settlers. It was the British colonizers who by aggressive means not only reduced the Naga population, but also subjugated them and occupied their territory by force. After the British departure, another occupational force (India) took up the Naga territory with vicious attitudes. They dominated the Naga people, grouped them under Indian state structure against their wishes. The Anglo-Naga and Indo-Naga relation demonstrates the best example of the definition of indigenous people as adopted by U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Population.
The second part of the definition addresses the situation of marginalization of population. It is the British power who dispersed the indigenous Naga population into different locations, making them isolated and marginal population by way of putting imaginary international boundary cutting across the Naga families. It was followed by another alien power (India) who added similar actions misplacing the indigenous Naga people creating state structure which is alien to them that made them further isolated. This is a direct case of invasion of the indigenous people of the Nagas.
According to U.N. definitions of indigenous people means, those groups of people who possess cultural distinctiveness and historical continuity as a community of people called indigenous people. It says, ‘the indigenous peoples are those people who maintains separate legal system, political institutions and distinct from other sections of the national community (Indian) and who have a burning desire to perpetuate their cultural distinctiveness.’ To sum up, indigenous people means, those groups of people like that of the Nagas whose land and people are subjugated or invaded by alien force (British and India) and dispersed the native population making them marginalized due to interference of that alien force for their own convenience.
The above definitions sufficiently illustrates that the Nagas belong to indigenous peoples. It was the British colonizers who came to Naga territory, landed there, subjugated the original peoples in Naga territory and they became not only the rulers over the original settlers and founders of that territory, but further divided the families of the Naga original peoples and displaced them for their administrative convenience. This made the Naga population isolated and marginalized. It is the responsibility of the British imperialist who invaded and occupied the Naga territory forcefully through military aggressive means and divided the Naga indigenous population. India stepping into the same political shoes of the British, kept the voice of the Naga unity move suppressed by sending her mighty armies and para military force. Right from the day of British departure, India did not allow the Nagas to unit themselves. No doubt, the Government of India claims that, they have inherited the Naga territory from the British imperial forces. This arbitrary action made the Naga territory to become a colonial state of India after independence since 1947. This is the crux of the issue between India and the Nagas today. The claim of the Nagas is that ‘no power on earch has legal right to do so without the consent of Naga populace. Today, the voice of the indigenous people is nothing more than an anti-colonial slogan as raised by the Indians before the British colonizers. Nobody can deny the fact that Nagas are indigenous people, if one has to honor the U.N. definitions of indigenous people as discussed above. The desire of the Nagas to live freely in their homeland without the interference of colonizers as indigenous people of the world is neither a crime nor an illegal move. Like many other indigenous people of the world, the Nagas have every right to live freely in their homeland together as brothers maintaining their distinctive socio-cultural and political institution.
Today, India is under threat both from outside and inside. The political realization amongst the masses, the growth of political consciousness amongst the various ethnic population, people’s realization about their self-hood, slogan of regional autonomy and self-determination etc., are being heard from everywhere throughout her country. These are the signals of cracking great India from inside. These signals are more serious than the threat from outside as one may see today.
Considering the unlimited scopes for freedom of the indigenous peoples of the world as per U.N. definitions of indigenous peoples, India is seriously contemplating in her policy making circles even tending to deny the existence of indigenous people in the country before the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. In this reference, Nirmal (1999) had aptly stated that: “Although India denies that she has any indigenous population, she guarantees special protection to tribal under her law and the constitution.” 11, and actually speaking, the tribal populations are indigenous people in India.
The Fifth and Sixth schedules of the Indian constitution, Article 371(A) etc., pertaining to the administration of scheduled and tribal areas are the examples of the existence of tribal population in India. The constitutional amendment relating recognition of scheduled tribes of 1950, 1951, 1964, 1965, and 1970 and the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are also the many sectors, no berth is given unless scheduled tribes certificate is produced. The Indian Parliament had officially declared by its Mission in the United Nations Conference in Geneva stating: “India does not have indigenous population. 12 Recognizing of the tribal communities in India who are perfectly indigenous peoples are yet to be realized in India due to fear of disintegration. As a matter of fact, there will be no India when the concept of indigenous people is accepted and recognized as group of peoples recognizing their entitlements. Who is an indigenous person or who is a non-indigenous person in India? When the differentiation of various communities is made in a country like India which is composed of many multi-nationalities, recognizing each and every unit as an independent group, the existence of a nation will be threatened more from inside. This is a challenging issue before India. In fact India is a loosely knittedUnion of states unlike other nations of the world and once it is cracked, there will be no India. This is our fear.
As a result of such notion, millions of indigenous populations are discriminated in the name of tribal, hill peoples, backward class, minority and so on against the principles of human rights and self-determination of indigenous people. In fact, India is not the only country that denies the existence of indigenous people. Many governments emanate strongly to condemn the use of such expressions as isolated groups. The usage of the term ‘Scheduled Tribes,’ or ‘primitive and backward’ by governments to describe them and is a systematic discrimination . Instead of terming as ‘Indigenous People’ the term ‘tribal’ in India context is a defamatory usage. The denial of their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including loss of their control over their lands and resources and the decision-making process are questionable in eyes of international law.
However, the U.N. definition of indigenous people is still a hidden question in India. Many politicians in India have challenged saying, how can it be possible to recognize or identify “indigenous people in India? Hence, any attempt to make a distinction between indigenous and non-indigenous would be artificial and therefore, this notion cannot be accepted. Following this logic, the Government of India contends that the ‘Scheduled Tribes’ of the country are not “indigenous but “backward people” who have to be educated and developed. Supporting this approach, many Asian and African countries have pointed out the difficulties involved in the identification of non-indigenous people in the historical chronological sense. Some scholars still confine the term ‘indigenous’ only to those persons whose fore parents were conquered by invaders from their regions of the world rather than neighbours and as such cover only situations faced by indigenous people in Americans and Oceania. Many indigenous organisations and experts, however, reject the position taken by the Afro-Asian Governments on the plea that making distinction between long-distance aggressions of short-distance aggression is unjustified. Moreover, it is logically impossible to establish a cut-off distance. Whatever the concept may be, ‘indigenous’ ‘tribal’ ‘non-tribal,’ it has to be noted that the Naga tribal nation should not be misunderstood like other Indian tribal elsewhere in India, because their case of invasion is quite different than those of the tribal communities in India because, Naga case is a question of open military aggression whether invaded from a long distance (England) or from a short distance (India) during pre-and post-Indian independence. This is an undeniable historical fact. Invasion is invasion and military aggression is aggression that took place in Naga case for the interest of the aggressors.
As we see the concepts and nature of indigenous peoples may differ from country to country. Their outlook, historical continuity, objectivity and the nature of relationship with dominant groups/powers etc., may differ because they differ widely from one another. The World Bank have rightly pointed out that, no single definition can capture the diversity of indigenous people worldwide. In other words, it is practically impossible to arrive at a precise universal definition of the term, ‘indigenous people.’ Moreover, such definition is wholly of philosophical interest would in any event, not contribute perceptively to the practical aspects of defending indigenous groups from abuse.
Whether one may agree or not it is evidently, clear that the Nagas are a group of indigenous peoples in their own ways. Our inquiry, as to whether Nagas are indigenous people or not is sufficiently clear according to U.N. definitions of the term ‘indigenous’. In this context, little more analysis is illustrated in quest of our answers. We claim that Nagas are indigenous people because of the following reasons: a) They are the aboriginal people in their land. They were in existence in their territory before the arrival of the British colonizers and also other alien powers like the Indians, b) Their land/territory was invaded by military aggressive means by the alien powers. They have been ruling over them since then. c) The alien power imposed upon the Nagas the colonialist attitudes and other terms of subjugations. d) Nagas are the successors of the people and their nation who inhabited t5heir territories at the time of British colonialization and aggression. e) Nagas are different people from the predominant sector of the country. (Population and in many respects including physical appearance, race, colors and cultures; f) The British colonizers made the Nagas isolated, displacing their populations, making them to be marginal, and they are placed in the same situation even today under Indian colonial power. g) The Nagas still maintain their distinct socio-cultural pattern, which is quire different than that of their Indian colonial masters. They are now placed under Indian state structure against their wishes. h) India is forcing the Nagas to join the Indian mainstream, applying all sorts of persuasive means, realizing that Nagas are not Indians and they are different people. i) Nagas are still maintaining historical continuity throughout pre-invasion and post-invation (British and India) or pre-and-post colonial societies that develops in their territory. j)They consider themselves to be a distinct group of people from other dominant populace (Hindus and Muslims in India) of the larger societies now prevailing in their own situation experiencing a sense of discrimination by the dominant population, k) The Nagas are made to follow the social patterns; institutions; legal system; political system (Indian election system) of the dominant group against their wish damaging the whole social fabric, l) They are numerically a group of minority people who are by force made to march with the so-called mainstream (Hindustan) against their philosophy of life and understanding through all kinds of threats (army power, black laws etc.) challenging the very existence of the Nagas. m) They have distinct unwritten laws, customary usages, and a custom bound society and follow a distinct self-governing system. (Naga Tribal Council and Hoho system.), n) They do not recognize alien and imposed political system like the Indian political party system, which have destroyed their identities and societies. They have found that the Naga system of self-governing system is the best for their survival in future as indigenous people.
In 1982, the World Bank have worked out a guideline to identify tribal groups as people having ‘most’ if not all the following characteristics for the considering to be indigenous people like the Nagas:
a)Geographical isolation; or semi-isolation;
b)un-acculturated or only partially acculturated into the national society;
c)non-literate, even not possessing a written language;
d)non-monetized or partially monetized, largely or entirely dependent on the national economic system;
e)ethnic distinctiveness from the national society;
f)linguistic difference from the national society;
g)possessed of a common territory;
h)economic base more tightly dependent in their specific environment;
i)possessing leadership, but no national representation, and political right is given fully by virtue of minority.
Identification of tribal is more authoritative and relevant when we look from sociological and anthropological paradigms. For instance, a group of peoples having the following characteristics are considered as tribe, such as-common territory, language, naming, culture, religion, blood relationship origins, sense of unity, distinct political organization and endogamy etc.
However, the above features are cited as a frame of reference to understand the term ‘indigenous people’ from a wide range of dimensions in the light of U.N. definition of indigenous people in the context of the Nagas in India and Myanmar who are known as tribal. The above definitions and understanding are in fact, directly related to the Naghas on question. If they say that they are indigenous people or tribal, what rights do they have under the principles of indigenous people’s rights of the world need to be addressed.
Our question of inquiry is as to whether the Nagas are indigenous people or not is obvious through the above discussion. It may be their stand that, if they are tribal fulfilling the characteristics of tribal community, no doubt, they belong to the indigenous peoples because all tribal communities are considered as indigenous people in South East Asian countries. However, while dealing with this concept, the Naga communities cannot be treated just merely a conglomeration of population, but as a full-fledged people hood in this universe. No body on this earth can deny the fact about the Nagas as a group of indigenous peoples of the world. The Nagas must be thankful to our great leaders who took the initiative to make the Nagas as bonafide members in the World Indigenous People’s Group. In fact, the Naga leader Mr. Isak Swu Chishi, the President, and Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland, and the Chairman,NSCN (I.M.), is said to be one of the most regular participants as a member of U.N. sub-Working Group on indigenous people representing the Nagas since 1990 onward. Till such time, the voices of Nagas as indigenous people were kept under strict concealment by the oppressors for many years, but now their voices and sufferings have been heard by many people of the world.
NAGA INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S RIGHTS
Having understood the concepts of indigenous people pertaining to Naga issue, it is necessary to critically re-examine the rights of the Nagas too. Professor Franke Wilmer, (1993) said that ‘the voice of indigenous are always critical because they addressed to the oppressors with a slogan of freedom from slavery and domination to hear the indigenous peoples’ voice is to hear a critique of modernization as an ideology of both international and national political community-building process. It is all the more powerful because it is not only an intellectual critical view but also a narrative of critical experience’.
In this regard, to hear the voice of Naga indigenous people’s right who have become the victims under the colonial power lost not only their family members and original boundaries, but also their political rights and their identities . They became the political prey under an alien system of governance against their will. One may ask, ‘what rights do they have as indigenous people
The Nagas as indigenous peoples have every right to enjoy the entitlements, under the principles of indigenous peoples’ rights and as the rights of self-determination respecting the laws of the land and also the international law protecting the rights of the threatened peoples and indigenous peoples in the region. In this analysis, we are presenting seventh fold rights of the Nagas as a frame of reference. They are:-
i) Return of all the Naga territories transferred to Assam including Reserved Forest and Tea Gardens established in Naga territory back to the Nagas as per 1947 agreement so made between the Naga National Council and the Governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hydari.
ii) Return of their dispersed population that was arbitrarily transferred putting imaginary boundary in the center of their territory against their wishes.
iii) Vacation of the Naga boundary and territory occupied by the colonizers, be it for military defense or in any form against the wishes of the indigenous people who are the legitimate landowners.
iv) Return of all cultural artefact back to the Nagas such as Naga traditional and cultural artefacts, ornamentals and many other original materials that have been taken away from the Naga territory both by the Britishers and the Indians during pre-and-post Indian Independence by force under gun points. During the British forceful occupation and also Indian army operation, the most valuable artefacts were forcefully taken away from many parts of Naga territory. Nagas are crying for the loss of such ancestral cultural items. Today, many of the Naga cultural artifacts are found in certain museums both in India and U.K. that were taken from Naga territory without their knowledge. Things of such kinds should be returned back to the Nagas National Museum under the existing international law.
v) Payment of due compensation against the losses caused due to British-India forceful occupation during the last six decades struggle whatsoever deserved compensation such as loss of human lives, properties caused during the time of Indian army operation. Every inch of damage caused due to such act of uncivilized forceful action taken by Indian military and para military forces deserves due compensation. To compile a detailed report on human sufferings in the hands of Indian Security forces will be too voluminous. However, all these loss whether human loss or in terms of properties, all deserve due compensation.
vi) Amalgamation of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative roof: As discussed above, the families of Nagas have been divided by the power of British imperialists, and misplaced the Naga indigenous peoples making them marginalized population during their regime. They fixed an imaginary boundary cutting across the families of the Nagas for their own interest and administrative convenience. Therefore, to bring all Nagas tribes living in Indian states and also in the Northern Myanmar, under one administrative unit is the right of the Nagas. Nagas must be allowed to live together under one administrative arrangement whatever formula that may be worked out on their own volition. One day, sooner or later, the Nagas who are now living outside the state of Nagaland will take tribal referendum as to whether they would share common political identity of the Nagas or not as indigenous people. The freedom of choice of the indigenous Naga people should be left to them under what kind of political structure they want to live in their own territory.
vii) Recognition of political identity: Nagas as a group of indigenous peoples should be entitled to enjoy the rights of political identity and its status in full bloom under the principles of indigenous people. Recognition of their political rights as indigenous peoples is the collective rights of the Nagas. They suffer due to non-recognition of their legitimate birthrights as indigenous people in their own land, which they have inherited from their fore parents. Their just rights have now been deprived by the alien powers. What they had been claiming is for a just cause i.e. for recognition of the existence of Naga indigenous people and their just rights. It means, return of Naga political independent hood back to them that is now under captivity in Indian political prison as criminal.
viii) Recognition of historical rights: Historical rights here we mean, the very existence of Naga indigenous people right from the very beginning in their land as people; their territory; history; political affiliation; institutions; culture; customs and traditions; origins and relationship with other people of the world. Military occupation over the Naga territory and the resistance shown by the Nagas defending their motherhood is a matter of historical fact. The Naga resistance movement protecting their rights is not a recent origin and it is not without a historical fact. Various political agreements had arrived before and after India independence period over the Indo-Naga political issue. Success and failure of those agreements are found on the pages of Naga history.
The political aspiration of the Nagas, protecting their institution is a matter of their birthright. Nagas were and are always majority in their land. But when this part of the territory is kept under Indian Union as an integral part of India, Naga population becomes less than a negligible minority group. How India is treating over this indigenous group by military powers to suppress the uprising Nagas and their resistance movement is a clear case of historical fact. It is New Delhi, which had closed the Naga territory from entry of the outsiders. India has given the Naga territories to her might troops to control the people’s movement there who are fighting for their just rights. This is a question of historical fact and historical right too. Right to exist in one own homeland is one’s birthright and universal right for all human beings. The legitimate right of the Nagas on questions is a question of recognition of the historical facts.
THE NAGA DESIRES FOR THEIR RIGHTS
The study of Indo-Naga conflict is as simple as Give and Take question that can be accepted or rejected by the giver and the receiver. However, India is taking enough time in the process of considering to recognize or to reject their rights. At the same time, Nagas are re-organizing themselves to fight out for their legitimate rights. Thus, the misunderstanding continues without finding a point of mutual understanding to solve their long-standing issue amicably between them. Both the parties (India and Nagas) have experienced enough and learned lessons from the past events. The iron-hand policy of India or military approach over the Nagas has totally failed. They have experienced the ugliest political scenario that has created bitter relationship between them. It is India alone who has been trying to exterminate the Nagas and destroy them as Morarji Desai said, but it was not successful. She has enough experiences in handling the Naga populace while trying to make the Nagas as Indians by bringing them under the mainstream but failed. Such an exercise will not be successful even in the future whatever means she applies, either military or persuasive methods.
However, it is a welcome move to see that now; the Government of India has already recognized the uniqueness of Naga political history and its situation created by India. It is also good to see the ceasefire agreement between the Government of India and NSCN (LM) followed by peace process during which Indi-Naga political conflict is expected to hammer out honourably through peaceful means. However, Government of India is over delaying to solve the conflict. Another bloody war is expected if wise decision is not taken in the appropriate level during this short term extended ceasefire period.
What they have been claiming right from the very beginning and what they are saying today regarding their rights are interesting to listen and worth recording. They are:-
a) to exercise indigenous sovereignty, whatever the name may be called and whatever the status they may decide;
b) Right Right to exercise their political autonomy on their own way as indigenous peoples. This includes democratic decentralization and reconstruction of democracy according to their own choice as per indigenous peoples’ rights.
c) Right to exercise free associations with other sovereign state without interference by any other sovereign state under the law.
d) Right to exercise self-determination as indigenous peoples under the principles of rights of the indigenous peoples and other international base legacy like U.N. Human Rights Charter on Self determination and international laws beaming applied to other indigenous people of the world without bias.
e) Right to live together as a group of indigenous people having common identity and common blood relation as same family members in the own homeland undisturbed by any alien powers. What the Naga indigenous peoples may not like to be imposed upon them are:
a) political and socio-cultural discrimination;
b) extreme case of exploitation by the outsiders;
c) subjugation of their territories;
d) interference of the mighty India with their colonial attitudes;
e) territorial expansion through military force;
f) imposition of Indian Army Special Laws; calling black and draconian laws;
g) transfer of foreign nationals (refugees) to the Naga territory from outside the Naga territory etc.
They call these as ‘exploitation’ and ‘alienation’ against their desire as well as against the principles of indigenous people’s rights. Indeed, right to self-government; right to political autonomy; right to self-management and right to self-determination are understood to be their desires registered since the inception of their resistance movement. It is because of the imposition of such un-wanted elements that made them take up the arms and strengthened their resistance movement.
It is further understood that their movement is a resistance movement that started from a tribal level who have been protecting and defending their land and peoples has now turned to be a national issue and international interest inviting legal redressal. It is not an erroneous assumption to note that the redefinition of what they call ‘Naga independence’ and ‘Naga sovereignty’ means, recognition of Naga people and nationhood and their undeniable rights as indigenous group of peoples living in their own ancestral territory as indigenous nation. Claiming their rights in their homeland and in their country is not a question of separation from other sovereign state nor a question of secession, because it has nothing to do with integration or disintegration of India or Myanmar. Return of the states territories, population and identities back to the owners (Nagas) are the just claim and demands of the Nagas. This is their aspiration and in fact, the new definition of Naga independence in which they dream for re-installation of a self-rule government of the peoples in Naga way in the light of political transformation in the global level, where they can create a self-reliant independent nation. This is indeed a very great challenge for the Nagas that shows their political consciousness and aspiration whether it could be achievable or not. One cannot ignore this challenge. This is what one can understand by the meaning of political autonomy as claimed by the Nagas.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF SELF-DETERMINATION
It is beyond our doubt that self-determination opens the doors leading from unknown to known and impossibilities to possibilities. Indeed, it carries a lot of messages especially for the underprivileged, deprived oppressed, minorities and neglected masses. It is a good news for the suffering people of the world. It provides a wide range of scopes especially under various Declarations from International Level Organizations. They cover not only political, social, cultural, civil, but also all aspects of life including economic development, education, protective measures, gender and society and so on. To the suffering people, it is known as a ‘liberation message’ but it frightens the oppressors. Country like India may experience this more because it is a dangerous term for her that may lead to cracking the country. We are afraid the usage of its term especially in the region like Northeast which is a world of ethnicities in itself and every community looks like a small nation-state.
Even though, self-determination talks about freedom, autonomy, democratic pluralization etc., there are lots of limitations and legal bindings. Whatever it guarantees, they are not absolute and universal right to be followed or implemented without following or honouring both domestic and international laws. While considering its scope and possible implementation for good of the people and communities, care has to be taken as to whether it is in conformity with domestic and international laws. Otherwise, if the principles of indigenous people’s rights and self-determination are to be applied in the Northeast, it is deserved to have over more than one hundreds small nation-states under such principles.
In Asian countries, self-determination is yet to be recognized fully. To allow its principles in a country like India is likely to create more complications because India is a fabricated nation, and there is every possibility of cracking such a nation from inside as and when the principle of self-determination is applied in letter in spirit. But it should not be forgotten that when U.N. on Human Rights Commission adopted resolution on the importance of ‘self-determination,’ where India had strongly supported the motion in 1966. Today, this phrase has frightened India more.
Self-determination is not a term free from its limitation and restrictions in its usage as well as in its application. Any given state may not allow honouring the concept of self-determination and its principles at the cost of disintegration of their state, secession, terrorism, separation, and against the ‘self-will’ of a given community like the Nagas. It is clearly stated even in U.N. Charter, that there is no room for secession in the context of self-determination referring to a secession issue of Katanga in Congo.
Obviously, any international recognition of the right of secession would be suicidal and self-destructive for national states that may cause internationals chaos. Therefore, many states have rejected the concept of secessionist, self-determination, and instead, emphasized more on the preservation and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member-states of the United Nation. This view was best reflected in the following statement of the U.N. Secretary-General U. Thant, which he made in regard to Biafra conflict.
“So as the question of secession the particular section of member-state is concerned, the United Nations attitude is unequivocal. As an international organisation, the United Nation has never accepted and does not accept and I do not believe it will never accept the principle of secession the part of its member-state.
It means the application of self-determination at the cost of secession, national disintegration of a country or separation is ruled out in such cases. An ethnic minority living within the borders of a state composed of one or more peoples likewise has no right to self-determination. Any attempt leading to fragmentation of a country or an established state may be considered as a case of secessionist movement. They may commit violence, act of terror or any kind of destruction inviting attention of the international level support. However, the more they are involved in such kind of activities, the more their stand becomes shaky and faint. Once they misuse the principles of self-determination that will simply lead to internal crisis, creating more confusion and misunderstanding. It threatens the existence of democracy in a different way though its concept is developed from democratic norms. However, it has to be noted that Naga case is quite different which does not have anything to do with ‘separation’ or ‘secession’ from any other country or nation. Application of self determination may also vary from place to place according to merit of the situation and historical facts.
Another school of thought does not agree with the above notion. They say, ‘when the legitimate democratic rights are not recognized, the question of secession becomes the only ultimate answer relating to application of self-determination.’ In certain extra-ordinary situation, secession may be left as an instrument of the oppressed people. They may feel that they would no longer tolerate on the degree of violation of democratic rights by the oppressors. Very often, they may claim that ‘bullets’ cannot stop the oppressed groups and their rights, all the times. When political persuasion fails, the dominant groups may even use its power to purchase ‘ballots with bullets,’ even then it may fail in many situations. There are such enough experiences around the world from which people may learn lessons from many situations. In such an extra-ordinary circumstance ‘secession’ may be left as the last available resort to a given oppressed group of community and they opt for it to attract the attention of international lawyers and also international level human rights activists. In fact, this kind of situation invites more attention of the international level forums including legal experts and human rights activists because such issue deserves international intervention.
India may say that the Naga people’s movement is a question of separatist or secessionist movement. This is one of the points of conflict between them as stated in introductory chapter in the first volume. For this reason in fact, intervention of the third party was sought and perhaps it is on in that direction.
SELF-DETERMINATION IN NAGA CONTEXT
Truly recording, the question of self-determination in the context of Indo-Naga conflict has turned to be a controversial and complicated one. Though there are many such cases having similar features in the world, the Naga case of self-determination is a peculiar one in terms of historical facts, political legacy, Indo-Naga relation, political agreements etc. The Indo-Naga case of invasion is a very clear case of self-determination defending their legitimate rights against the aggressive force of colonizers, where the question of ‘secession’ does not arise at all. They have been demonstrating this since 1929 onward, till today. The question of ‘self-determination’ and the spirit of its application, recognizing their legitimate socio-political rights based on Naga political legacy and historical facts have been registered by indigenous Naga people since then. The on-going Indo-Naga war of independence is simply a question of self-determination as indigenous people as the occupational force have been threatening them since then. Therefore, whatever complication would be there, this could be solved under the principles of self-determination and human rights. Whatever the size of population and the degree of their weakness may be, no power on earth should discriminate the rights of the indigenous people like the Naga case of invasion. The real answer to this chronic issue would be found better under the principles of human rights as discussed above.
On the matters of self-determination in Indo-Naga context, the facts demand further debate under the principles of human rights i) Seizure of Naga Independence; ii) Military aggression by alien power; (British and India) iii) Division of Naga territories putting artificial and imaginary boundaries across the Naga families and their homeland; iv) Demographic aggression due to (iii) above displacing Naga family in different geographical areas; v) Forceful attempts to join mainstream (Indian Union) against the wishes of the Nagas, vi) Indirect means of aggression using different methods like creation of state structure military force, vii) imposition of divide and rule policy, viii) Imposition of Special Armed Forced Act, ix) making political accord and signing of ceasefire agreements, x) Good Samaritan Projects and xi) expansion and imposition of Look East Policy etc. Are some of the living witnesses.
The Indo Naga political talk had resumed once again after almost four decades. It appears that the Government of India had already recognized the unique history of the Nagas and its situation.
One Rev. Michael Scott, who was the architect and convener of Nagaland Peace Mission and the Chief Negotiator of Indo-Naga issue, had rightly pointed out on external self-determination of the Nagas. He said, ‘Naga problem is not the problem of India alone.’ In one of his booklets on Naga issue entitled: ‘THE NAGAS,’ India’s problem-or the world? (1966) He further said that, the question of sovereignty is still a great importance as indigenous peoples, recognizing their self-determination. Naga claim is a denial of fact and justice. It is a question of history and a question of international law. He further commented that Naga sovereignty is an unquestionable matter based on historical facts in the process negotiation with India. Of course, Rev. Michael Scott was expelled from India for saying so on the verdict that he is implicating the Naga issue supporting their rights. Prior to that, all American missionaries received the same treatment just after Indian’s independence.
FILE NO.2: FUNDAMENTAL POINTS OF CONFLICTS.
On the question of Nation hood, the Naga claims that they are a Nation because they belong to a community of people having every pre-requisites qualification to be termed as Nation. In fact, reaching to a level of national identity from the village and tribal level identity is a great achievement in the process of the Naga nation building. However, New Delhi does not accept this notion. This is the first point of conflict.
On the question of citizenship and nationality, Naga are claiming that since they belong to a Nation they are not Indian citizens and Indian nationals by birth. Nagas are neither Aryans nor Dravidians by race. They are Mongolians by race and origin and Naga citizens and Naga national by socio-cultural history and political legacy. The Nagas are neither Hindus nor Islam. They do not follow Indian culture, customs, traditions, language and so on. The Naga way of life in a casteless society unlike Indian caste, base society is quite different. The Nagas do not want to become like Indians socially, culturally nor politically by force. India is forcing the Nagas to live as Indians by joining the so-called mainstream India. Nagas have been demonstrating their unwillingness to join in Indian Union and to become Indian citizen by force. This is the second point of conflict.
In protest of the first and second points of conflict, the Nagas, as a group of people has organised a democratic movement. Indian has miss-understood this movement as underground, insurgency, secessionist and separatist movement. This is not correct because the Naga movement is never a separatist or a secessionist movement at all. Beginning from 1832, the British Government started invading Naga people and their territory. Secondly, after the departure of the British Government, the Government of India has been trying to suppress the rights of the Nagas using by military force, though military force has failed. The Nagas have responded to all these aggressive means against the colonial force through peaceful means. The Indian Government deployed her mighty force to crush the Naga political aspiration. This made the Nagas as group of people to defend their homeland. This was/is not against the law of the land. Therefore, Naga movement is a National Liberation Movement, a movement from slavery to freedom and a movement desiring to live together as family members, free from alien interference or imposed rule to ‘self-rule’ which every nation does. It is purely a patriotic movement. This is the third point of conflict.
On the question of independent hood, the Nagas have been living independently in their own territory even before the advent of the Britishers. Naga history is very clear on this point. The Nagas claim that to live independently free from foreign interference in their homeland is their legitimate right. However, India neither recognizes nor accepts this plain truth. India is subjugating the rights of the Nagas. She does not allow the Nagas to live independently as before in their own homeland. This is fourth point of conflict.
On the question of integrity, India claims ‘that Naga homeland is absolutely an integral part of India that was handed over by the British authority at the time of transfer of power to India in 1947 after the War.’ However, the Nagas do not accept this arbitrary transfer of their homeland without their knowledge and consent. The Nagas have been objecting this undemocratic action through various democratic means that a civilized nation could do. The Nagas have been telling the world that their territory was invaded by the colonizers (British & Indian colonial force). This is a question of forceful occupation of their homeland by alien forces. Nagas have never surrendered their rights neither to the British Government nor to the Government of India. The entire Naga territory was never a part of British India. Today also, the Naga territory is not an integral part of Indian Union. But India claims that Naga territory is an integral part of Indian Union. This is the fifth point of conflict.
On the status of Indian constitution, Nagas have been rejecting even the British Indian law right from the very beginning. The Nagas have already told to India and the world that they will not accept the Indian constitution. This was demonstrated by conducting national plebiscite in 1951. The Nagas have already intimated to Indian Govt. That they will not accept the Indian constitution. However, India does not agree to this historical truth. India claims that no settlement can be possible outside the framework of Indian constitution, which does not bind the Nagas. Anything or everything could be worked out honourably only under Indian constitution. However, the Naga Movement for freedom fighters do not recognize nor accept the Indian constitution. The Nagas are saying that they have nothing to do with an alien constitution like that of the Indian constitution. This is the Sixth point of conflict.
Now on the question of statehood, the government of India syas that ‘a full-fledged state had been granted to the Nagas according to the wishes of the Nagas. You have demanded this status through Naga People’s Convention by signing a Charter of 16-points Agreement between the Government of India and this fulfils the political aspiration of the Nagas and you have nothing to claim more than this.’ On the other hand, Nagas are saying that ‘granting of statehood has no relation with Naga National struggle for freedom. This Indian state was not claimed by them nor needed by the Nagas. It was a political trap that was strategically installed in certain parts of Naga territory by New Delhi, to divide the Nagas. Therefore, it is a puppet state government which the Nagas do not require at the cost of national disintegration due to expansion of Indian state structure. Therefore, this temporary political arrangement has nothing to do with the Naga political freedom. Indeed, installation of an Indian state in certain parts of Naga territory was a great mistake. Today, this state is operating at the cost of Naga freedom fighters. The Naga people’s movement for freedom demands to remove all the obstacles like the statehood and the Indian state structure and their geographical boundary that divides the Nagas. India does not agree to it. This is the seventh point of conflict.
Now, on the question of Naga sovereignty is not free from controversy. The Nagas sovereignty was in existence even before the arrival of British Government. The Nagas have been reiterating that their sovereignty will never be surrendered to any authority. It was neither surrendered to the British force nor to Indian. Therefore, the Nagas have every right to enjoy the birthright of their sovereignty in their homeland. This is the reason why the Naga freedom fighters are clarifying their stand that the Naga sovereignty is not negotiable. On the other hand, the Government of India is saying that the Nagas should not talk anymore about their sovereignty. All the Indian Prime Ministers have already told in clar terms that Naga sovgereignty is ruled out. “If they are insisting for their sovereignty, there is no question of negotiation.” This is the eighth point of conflict.
Political negotiation without recognizinag the points of these conflicts may not bring honorable and acceptable solution to the long pending Indo-Naga Political Conflict.
FILE NO. 3: FUNDAMENTAL KEY ISSUES
- The Naga territory was never a part of British Govt. except certain portion by creating a British District since 1866.
- Naga territory was/is never a part of Indian Union
- Nagas never asked independent from India
- Nagas are neither Indians nor Burmese
- Firstly, the aggressors from England divided the Naga territory and its population
- Secondly, the Govt. of India divided the Naga territory by installing Indian state structures against their wishes since December 1, 1963
- Govt. of India deployed her mighty armed forces to the Naga territory beginning from 1956 to wide out the Naga People’s Movement for survival, but failed.
- Through out those eight decades beginning from 1929 the Nagas themselves have been defending their rights alone. Yet, no foreign countries/organizations have listened to the voices of the suffering people from abroad; except UNPO by accepting the Naga Nation as its members
- Naga political problem is with India and Burma
- The Govt. of India have admitted two things (1) that the Indo-Naga issues is not a law and order problem but it is a political problem (2) that Naga history and situation is a unique one.
FILE NO.4: WHAT THE NAGAS WOULD REQUIRE TODAY ARE:-
1. An indigenous system of Naga Parliament without interference from outside force. However, they may have relationship with the Govt.of India on certain broad subjects considering the uniqueness of Naga history, location and situation.
2. Total protection of their ancestral Homeland as indigenous people. In other words, what the Nagas have been claiming their rights from the very beginning are as follows:
a) Right to exercise indigenous sovereignty, what ever the name may be called and whatever the status they may decide;
b) Right to exercise their political autonomy on their own way as indigenous people. This includes indigenous peoples’ rights; and a mass based democracy;
c) Right to exercise free associations with other sovereign states without interference by any other sovereign state under the law and
d) Right to exercise self-determination as indigenous peoples under the principles of the indigenous peoples.
FILE NO.5: PRESS RELEASE ISSUED ON AUGUST 4, 2003
“The Senior Citizens’ Forum of Mokokchung District of Nagaland appreciates and endorses its fullest support towards integration of the entire Naga contiguous areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in India and even beyond the imaginary boundary fixed by the British colonizers dividing the Naga families in two countries (India & Myanmar) violating the human rights against the wishes of the Nagas. However, the forum acknowledges the wise decision of the Government of India in recognizing the historical facts and political legitimacy of the Nagas to allow the integration of the divided Naga communities which is a matter of undeniable fact. The sincere effort and the outcome of the present political talk between the Government of India and NSCN(I.M.) collective leadership during the cease-fire period deserves appreciation.
While appreciating the political development in the recent consultative meeting in Bangkok (July 14-16, 2003) between the two parties to begin the substantive issues towards resolving the Indo-Naga political problem; the forum suggests for unification and integration of all the Naga communities under the provision of Indian Constitution Article 3 which says that, “Parliament may be law: a) form new state by separating territory from any state or by uniting two or more states or part of state or by uniting any territory to a part of any state: b) increase the area of any state, c) diminish the area of any state, d) alter the boundaries of any state, e) alter the name of any state.” Under the above constitutional provision, the erstwhile Assam District was necessitated to be disintegrated forming various states in the region. Therefore, passing an appropriate Bill in the Parliament on this matter of Naga territorial integration will be the most suitable step towards solving the Naga political problem.
The forum also endorse that all Naga inhabited areas be brought under one administrative roof covering the Nagas of Myanmar under the principle of self-determination who were misplaced by the British imperialist for their administrative convenience putting arbitrary boundary against the wishes of Naga indigenous people. It is a must to welcome every Naga community, by virtue of their birthplace and historical facts to live under such a political agreement whatever the name may be called. For such a move, every Naga community should come forward taking positive roles for greater interest of the Nagas under national principles.
Within the integrated Naga territory, Naga people must be allowed to have their own Parliament with its legislative supremacy by providing full power to make laws over all the Naga territories and her people, and thereby, the control by the Government of India over the Naga affairs be ceased.
Meanwhile, the forum invites from all the scattered Naga population to support the Naga Integration Move without which, the Naga political negotiation cannot go further. This is the basic issue towards solving the Indo-Naga political conflict.”
FILE NO.6: PRESS RELEASE ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 11, 2003
The Concerned Senior Citizens Forum of Mokokchung District expresses its happiness on the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister, Shri. Atal Vajpayee to Nagaland during such an hour of crucial juncture when the Naga populace was awaiting anxiously to express their desire for early settlement of Naga political issue between India and the Nagas. This is the second visit of Indian Premier to Nagaland after Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit in 1954 that may lead to opening of another new chapter which will be read by the generation on national building history. The Prime Minister had shown a good gesture recognizing the uniqueness of Naga political history that needs an amicable solution without further delay. This historical visit by the highest office of the Indian Parliament shows the sincerity of the Government of India towards solving the Indo-Naga political issue based on ground reality honouring the past and present history.
Under the principle of self-determination, and in view of the current discussion on substantial issues between the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) leadership; the Concerned Senior Citizens of Mokokchung, Nagaland suggests that the Naga people must not be curtailed of having their own Parliament with its constitution except certain concurrent subject matters with the Government of India whichever may be agreeable by both the political entities.
On the very occasion, the Naga populace had peacefully demonstrated their willingness towards integration of the entire Naga contiguous area under one administrative roof maintaining their socio-political identity. The Nagas have shown their solidarity claiming their birth right to live in their homeland which is a matter of human rights. The Forum appreciates and endorses its fullest support towards integration of the entire Naga contiguous areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in India and even beyond the imaginary boundary fixed by the British colonizers dividing the Naga families in two countries (India & Myanmar) violating the human rights against the wishes of the Nagas. The forum suggests the total unification and integration of all the Naga communities under the provision of Indian Constitution Article 3 which provides that:
“Parliament may by law: a) form new state by separating territory from any state or by uniting two or more states or part of state or by uniting any territory to a part of any state: b) increase the area of any state, c) diminish the area of any state, d) alter the boundaries of any state, e) alter the name of any state.”
Under the above constitutional provision, even the erstwhile Assam District was necessitated to be disintegrated forming various states in the region. Therefore, while recognizing the uniqueness of Naga political history, a unique political decision is highly deserved passing an appropriate Bill in the Parliament on Naga issue.
The force dispersal of Naga indigenous population in different states/countries created during the British colonial rule is a matter of human rights violation that needs rectification. Therefore, the forum reiterates that all Naga inhabited areas be brought under one administrative roof covering the Nagas of Myanmar who were misplaced by the British imperialist for their administrative convenience putting arbitrary boundary against the wishes of Naga indigenous people.
By virtue of their birthplace and historical facts, the citizen forum draws the attention of the negotiating parties to take wise decision in making appropriate political arrangement bringing every indigenous Naga people to live under one administrative umbrella.
Since all the Agreements and Accords on Naga political issue signed between the Government of Indi and the Nagas in the past have become redundant. This time, the forum expects that when the ongoing political talk comes to finality, its outcome may be affected by passing an appropriate Act in the Parliament. The forum finds the above suggestion to be the most acceptable model of political settlement.
Naga people must not be curtailed of having their own Parliament with its constitution except certain concurrent subject matters with the Government of India whichever may be agreeable by both the political entities.
FILE NO.7: A DRAFT PROPOSAL ON INDO-NAGA POLITICAL PROBLEM TOWARDS FINDING A PERMANENT SOLUTION (A BROAD BASED SUGGESTION FOR DISCUSSION)
1. For common interest of both the parties and considering the existing geo-politics in the region, the Indo-Naga political issue could be finally settled by keeping them under an extra-ordinary political arrangement honouring and protecting their political identity linking the distinct Naga territory with mainstream India; sharing certain subjects of common interest between India and the Naga protectorate Nation.
2. The Nagas may have their own Parliament with its legislative supremacy by providing full power to make laws over all the Naga territory and thereby, direct control by the Government of India over the Naga affairs be gradually ceased.
3. The Naga people may have their own Yehzabo (constitution) specifying the model of Naga National Government, its organizational structure, powers and functions in Naga way maintaining common links between two entities respecting each other. Under such a political scheme, Currency and Communication may be the responsibility of the guardian Nation for a specific period of time or until such time the Nagas are capable of running such subjects on their own. However, Defence and External Affairs shall be the concurrent subjects for the interest of both the parties.
4. By virtue of their territorial determination and the legacy of land ownership rights, the scattered Naga population who are now living in their homeland in different political units in Indian Union by putting Indian state structure strategically such as in the present state of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur should live together with the rest of the Nagas as the family one people and one nation under one administrative unit as agreed before.
5. The Naga population who were misplaced in the Eastern part of Naga territory (Myanmar) during the British colonial rule by putting temporary boundary arbitrarily diiding the Nagas against their wishes and now compelled to live in the Eastern part of Naga territory (Myanmar) should also stay with the rest of the Nagas as the family of one people and one nation under one administrative unit.
6. The present Cease-fire Monitoring Cell be upgraded to a level of Consulate and keep attached to PMO for effective supervision and monitoring between the two parties that may continue until such time the Government of India and the newly formed Naga National Government so decides mutually.
7. Since all the Agreements and Accords on Indo-Naga political issue signed without a third party witness in the past and became redundant; this time, when the on-going political talk comes to a finality, the Treaty may be signed in the most appropriate level in presence of a third party that may be proposed by the aggrieved party.
8. Initially, a provisional Naga National Government under the guardian Nation be installed till the adoption of Naga Yehzabo (constitution) and becomes operatble. The budget for new Government may be facilitated from the consolidated fund of the guardian nation.
The above suggestions may be one of the most acceptable middle path formulas of honourable and acceptable settlement between India and the Nagas. (This proposal was submitted to the Naga HoHo as well as the Collective Naga leaders in 2003)
FILE NO.8: ON THE MATTER OF NAGA FRESH MANDATE
On the matter of Indo-Naga Political Issue, signing of 2 Political Agreements, (1947 & 1960) 1 Accord (1975) and 3 Cease-fire Agreements (1964, 1997, 2001) are some of the major steps taken between the Government of India and the Nagas during the last 6-7 decades struggle. This was followed by sixth round of ministerial level talk with the Indian Prime Minister, Smti Indira Gandhi in 1967, which turned to be a deadlock. As a result, many precious lives have lost from both the sides. More detailed of such eventful developments and their consequences will be found on the pages of the Naga history. All these have not taken place without a season. The first Naga mandate virtually came to an end in 1975 by surrendering to the enemies.
Inspite of such attempts at different levels, no political settlement was brought because; all those exercises have failed to address to this chronic problem in bringing an acceptable solution during the last 60 years of conflicts. At present, the Indo-Naga Political Talk is underway between the Govt. Of India and the NSCN (IM) collective leadership at the ministerial level once again. And nobody knows what will be the outcome of the present talk during the third ceasefire period with Indi and the Nagas. It is now high time to make an honourable settlement through peaceful means instead of playing delaying tactics.
Political Consultation Meets and the Naga Public Opinion:
In the recent years, series of Political Consultation meetings were held such as the High Level Naga Hoho Meets and its Political Declaration of December 20, 2001, and 19-20 December, 2002, first General meeting of the Consultative Body meeting held from May 31-June 2, 1999, 2nd Naga Consultative meeting from January 7-11 2002 at Bangkok, Thailand 3rd Naga Consultative Meeting from 6-10 May, 2002 in Bangkok, Thailand and the 4th Naga Peoples Consultative meeting from January 20-21, 2005 at Camp Hebron respectively. These are the most significant steps initiated by Naga leaders in the recent years for the cost of Naga political struggle for survival. All these speak about the need for a political settlement between India and the Nagas.
A Fresh Naga Peoples’ mandate.
During the last historic 4th Naga Peoples Consultation Meet held at Camp Hebron, on 20-21 January, 2005 to strengthen the Indo-Naga political talks; over more than six thousands Naga tribal representative covering across the length and the breadth of Naga Homeland participated in the meeting. After two days of intensive, sincere and honest interaction with the Collective Leadership of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, he meeting declared fourfold resolution and gave another fresh mandate to the NSCN (IM) Collective leaders to pursue the Indo-Naga Political Talk with the Govt. Of India in the light of the fourfold resolution.
THE FOURFOLD RESOLUTIONS
(1). The fullest support for an honourable solution to the Indo-Naga political issue on the basis of the uniqueness of Naga history and situation.
This statement bears two things i.e. (i) honourable solution and (ii) uniqueness of Naga history and situation. It means that the method of honourable solution should be based on the uniqueness of Naga history and situation. This is the desires of the Nagas. This should be mutually agreeable and acceptable to both the conflicting parties recognizing each other’s stand and position.
Secondly, since the GOI has recognized the uniqueness of Naga history and situation, the conflict should also be resolved in a unique way honouring the unique history of the Nagas. Uniqueness of Naga history means, the existence of Naga traditional sovereignty, the independent living pattern in their own homeland without interference from outside force. This has been expressing by the Nagas ever since 1929. However, under the principle of honourable solution, a formula of unique relationship between India and the Nagas may be worked out having unique links and interdependent with each other that may be good for India and the Nagas. This may be the spirit of honourable solution recognizing the unique history of both the conflicting parties by each other. In the process, the historical facts and traditional rights of the Naga deserves to be honoured relating to their self-governing system in Naga way and legitimate rights over their ancestral land in their homeland.
(2) That the unification of all Naga areas is legitimate and therefore, non-negotiable.
The question of the unification of all Naga areas and legitimate ownership rights of the Nagas in the Naga inhabited areas is a matter of prime concern. Without shaping territory; political solution will be a futile exercise. It is to be noted that Nagas are not living in any others’ land that belongs to other whether in Indian states or in Burma. Therefore, every Naga ethnic groups who are now are living in their own homeland have every right to live freely without interference from outside force. They do not want to be exploited by any alien’s authority while living in their homeland. The Indo-Naga issue is as simple as a conflict over the territorial rights and the rights to have political freedom in that given territory in their own way. In this regard, the question of territorial rights in their own homeland and political freedom may be simplified as under. This will take care of the question of unification or integration of the contiguous Naga inhabited areas also.
Assam-Naga boundary disputes
As a matter of fact, there is no boundary dispute with Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and with Burma. However, the boundary dispute with Assam is a serious matter because they have distorted the original Assam-Naga boundary and illegally occupied a huge chunk of land belonging to the Nagas in the erstwhile Naga Hills District in the plain areas. Moreover, a number of reserved forests and Tea Gardens that were established in Naga territory have been transferred to Sibsagar and Nowgong districts of Assam. To this effect, there are sufficient documentary evidences including the original maps drawn by the British Government. The land dispute between Assam and the Nagas can only be solved amicably recognizing the traditional boundary, historical facts and legal involvement whenever necessary where the British authority should be the No.1 witness because the British India Government is the supreme authority on this matter.
B. The boundary issue between the Manipuris and the Nagas in Manipur
As stated above, there is no land dispute between the Manipuris and the Nagas in Manipur. Why can there by a land dispute between the Nagas and the Manipuris when they are living separately side by side occupying their own ancestral land having clear land demarcation between them maintaining well established boundaries. They have been maintaining such traditional boundaries with great honour right from the beginning till date. Therefore, there is no boundary issue between them. The Nagas have no intension to grab any portion of the land belonging others in Manipur. Therefore, it is the legitimate rights of the Nagas to live together within their own homeland under one administrative unit. This does not imply taking away the land belonging to others. It is the responsibility of the Govt. Of India who have erected boundary demarcation dividing the Naga families without the consent of the land owners in the name of installing Indian state structure. As a result, 19 Naga ethnic groups are compelled to live in five districts in the present Manipur state. Such illegal boundary demarcation should be removed by the Government of India.
C. Boundary issues between Arunachales and the Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh
Similarly, due to divide and rule policy of the British Government some Naga tribes are compelled to live in the present state of Arunachal Pradesh. Those of the Nagas in Arunachal are also living in their own ancestral land having clear land demarcation with Arunachalese. They respect their traditional boundary. There is no land dispute between the Nagas in Arunachal and the Arunachalese in Arunachal Pradesh. It is the responsibility of the British Government/Government of India who have installed illegal boundary without the knowledge of the indigenous people dividing the Naga families by installing boundary by force. Therefore, it is the responsibility of those concerned authorities to remove those obstacles that divided the Naga families.
C. The boundary with Burma/Myanmar
There is no boundary dispute between the Nagas and Burma/Myanmar. Nagas are living in their own homeland having well established historical boundary with the neighbouring communities in Burma. They have been maintaining those boundaries right from the time immemorial. Therefore, there is no boundary dispute between the Nagas and the Burmese because they have been respecting the traditional boundary right from the beginning. However, the Burmese Juntas are disturbing in Naga homeland from time to time since recent years. The artificial international boundary being laid down cutting across the Naga families against the wishes of the Nagas taking the watershed area; by the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and U Nu, the then Prime Minister of Burma in 1953, is a living example.
The British and Indian Government should not run away from the facts while deciding the Naga-Burma boundary because they are responsible who divided the Nagas to live in two foreign countries (India and Burma) making the Naga population marginalized.
(3) That the political solution should be found through peaceful means
In the past, the political solution was tried through military means but failed. It is confirmed by the statement of an Indian Army General Thimmaya, who said that ‘military solution is ruled out to finish the Nagas…., the Indian bullets alone couldn’t finish the Nagas; therefore, they need to be treated psychologically to win over the minds of the Nagas. In this direction, it is appreciable to note the statement given by another General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, the former Chief of the Indian Army who commented that a “solution should be worked out between the Government of India and the Nagas without wasting any time through free and frank dialogue.” As a matter of fact, use of Indian bullets had failed. Imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) regulation of 1958 and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act have also failed. Use of Indian Ballot boxes has also failed. Rehabilitation programmes did not bring any positive change. Good Samaritan projects under Indian Army Development Group (ADG) have also failed. The Indian Look East Policy and constitution of a separate Ministry under the nomenclature of DONER without recognizing the legitimate rights of the people of Northeasterners will be just wastage of national resources. Before solving the political issue first through political dialogue and peaceful means, any attempt is going to be a failure as experienced in the past. No such programmes could lure the Nagas. That is why the problems still continues.
The armed conflict between the Indian Army and the Naga Army is over. It is now time to sit together and have political dialogue. “Peaceful means” is the best means for solving the Indo-Naga political issue. Therefore, during this opportune time an honourable settlement should be worked out to avoid another bloody war that may not be good for India and the Nagas.
(4) That both Government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagalim uphold utmost sincerity towards finding a political solution.
In the past, both the Government of India and the Nagas were not sincere towards finding a political solution. They failed to understand each other. As a result, the political talk between the Government of India and the Federal Government of Nagaland turned to be a deadlock after the sixth round of ministerial level talk in1967. The then Indian Prime Minister, Smti, Indira Gandhi failed to give sufficient time to the Naga delegates on the pretext that she was busy to go to Moscow on 8th October, 1967. On the same day, the official instructions were delivered to the Naga delegates to vacate the Hyderabad House in New Delhi where they were staying. This was taken as an insult to the Naga delegates. After 1967, inspite of taking positive steps towards solving the Indo-Naga political problem, the Government of India had applied various divisive means as stated above, but failed. Thereafter, there was no political negotiation between the Government of India and the Nagas during the last 38 years. This shows that Govt.of India did not show any interest to solve the issue. This is the reason why and how the Indo-Naga conflict has become a different dimension today. This time, it is expected that both the conflicting parties are sincere and honest towards finding an acceptable political solution.
Today, the Indo-Naga political dialogue has reached the most crucial stage during this on-going peace process. It is a great challenge on the part of the international support groups who should now play the most effective rule as facilitators.
The Concerned Senior Citizens’ Forum of Mokokchung, Nagaland
Dated, Mkg, July, 28, 2006
Submitted to : The Other Media, New Delhi