Nagas believe in freedom and love freedom, says NPMHR Credit: File EastMojo image

Imphal: The Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) said that the Nagas have not compromised their birthright at any point of time and the aspiration of the Nagas cannot be suppressed by any forces.

The statement was made during the recently held 15th Morung Dialogue through a webinar on ‘Naga Peoples’ Aspiration and Law and Order’ by the Delhi unit of the NPMHR. According to the NPMHR press statement, the virtual dialogue was conducted on July 8 in light of the Nagaland Governor RN Ravi’s letter to the government and remarked the law and order situation in the state to have ‘collapsed’.

Speaking as one of the panellists, Advocate Timikha Koza, president of Tenyimia Peoples’ Organization, said that Nagas are one and they have one aspiration. Nagas believe in freedom and love freedom, he said.

He also stated that the Nagas have always cherished and valued freedom and peace. He narrated how Naga consciousness for independence has been displayed time and again across history, through submission of the memorandum to the Simon Commission, declaration of Independence on 14th August 1947 and boycott of Indian elections in 1951. The same desire is in all the Nagas today, he added.

According to him, RN Ravi’s letter to the Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio has thus created much fear amongst the Naga people in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Nagas have suffered enough under military rule in the name of law and order and do not wish to experience another such phase. The Governor’s quote on “total collapse of law and order” needs to be revisited, he said.

Advocate Koza opined that the special powers given to the Governor under article 371 A (1) (b), is to be exercised judiciously and discreetly.

The Governor who is also the interlocutor of the Naga peace process should prioritize the peaceful settlement of the political negotiation, Koza added.

Another panellist at the webinar, Prof Rosemary Dzuvichü, spoke on the after-effects of the governor’s letter, the experience of Naga women and the way forward.

According to her, RN Ravi has brought a much bigger ‘pandemic’ to the Nagas in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The Naga people today live in anxiety and tension with a series of arrests of members of NNPGs occurring with no respect for ceasefire ground rules,” she said.

Prof Dzuvichü stated that the Governor being the constitutional head of the state should take responsibility for the inabilities cited by him in the letter. The Nagaland government is not Rio’s government alone but equally of the Governor himself, she stated.

Also Read: Nagaland govt responds to governor Ravi on law & order situation

Prof Dzuvichü also expressed worry about how the state governor, who is also the interlocutor of the Naga political negotiation, would regain the trust of the negotiating partners after branding them “armed gangs”.

The trust built over years of talks with different Naga political groups and through the signing of the framework agreement with the main negotiating partner NSCN (IM) and the preamble with the 7 NNPGs, has been thrown to waste due to the letter, she said.

She also questioned the seriousness of the Center in bringing a peaceful settlement to the decades-old Naga political issue. While appealing to all parties for accountability within their organisations, that excesses are not committed, and the ceasefire ground rules are properly followed, she also hopes that the ongoing negotiation will not take another generation to be brought to fruition

Meanwhile, according to the former Naga Hoho president Keviletuo Kiewhuo, the governor’s letter deals with the politics, law and order, development and corruption in the state with a lot of ambiguity and much more clarity is needed.

Concerning development in Nagaland, he said that the state is fully dependent on Delhi for its budgetary provision. The little development that is done in the state is through the budgetary provision of about Rs 2,500 crore which is equivalent to the budget of the statue of Sardar Patel.

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He further questioned what kind of ‘development’ is being referred to and asked if the state of Nagaland is equivalent to the value of one statue.

According to him, the state cannot rely on revenue through collection of taxes.

“Any govt. raising or imposing taxes will lead to an uprising. Therefore, development cannot happen without increasing the budgetary provisions and blaming the political group for underdevelopment is absurd,” the Naga leader said

However, he also agreed with the governor that there is corruption in Nagaland, stating “Corruption has crept into every aspect of the Naga people. The political class and the notorious bureaucracy are all involved” He went a step ahead questioning what measures were taken by the governor to correct this.

Kiewhuo also questioned what the definition of “collapse of law and order” meant when everyone in the state is living in peace.

He highlighted that there is a ceasefire mechanism in place led by a chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group and ceasefire supervisory board with laid down ground rules. As per this, there are hundreds of card holders amongst the NNPGs who are authorized to carry arms and ammunition.

The designated camps are not prisons and the cadres have the freedom to move around accompanied by bodyguards with arms. They cannot be labelled “armed gangs”, he said.

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