Nagas in Manipur celebrating its 73rd Independence Day at Katomei, Senapati in 2019 Credit: File image

Imphal:At a time when the Indo-Naga peace talks are at a ‘crucial stage’, Nagas living various regions and states on Friday have jointly appealed for unity to find common ground for the Naga political solution.

For the last 23 years, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has been in peace talks with the Center. The breakthrough came with the signing of the Framework Agreement in 2015.

The latest stand-off happened in August this year when the NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah refused to sit down together with Naga interlocutor RN Ravi, also the Governor of Nagaland, for talks.

The statement for unity was jointly signed by the United Naga Council (UNC) Manipur president Kho John, Naga Public Organisation, Lahe in Myanmar general secretary Rev Isaac Jojo, Rengma Naga People’s Council (RNPC) Assam president Solomon Rengma and Arunachal Naga TCL Hoho coordinator L Wanglet Lowangcha.

Also Read: Solution without Naga flag, constitution will be a ‘sell out’ deal: NSCN-IM

Nagas seem living in the ‘caged societies’:

In a joint statement, the body stated that at present the Nagas seem to be living in the ‘caged societies’ planted and nurtured by the ideological, organisational and politico-administrative territorial divides aggravated by the tendency to nurture an overriding loyalty to one’s own ethnic and tribal communities.

As per reports, the unique history of the Nagas was recognised by the BJP-led NDA government on July 11, 2002, during the tenure of former Prime Minister of India late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Based on its unique history, NSCN (I-M) leadership have been demanding with the GoI for a separate Naga national flag and the constitution.

However, the talks to the final agreement remain inconclusive as the Naga group remaining firm on its demand for the two entities while the government does not give in.

Meanwhile, the working committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) is reportedly ready for an agreement with the Government of India with or without the two entities.

“Despite the tall proclamation that the Nagas are a separate entity, a nation that merits to be left to itself as a sovereign nation-state, we have not been able to transcend these boundaries and the associated world views engendered by a desire to protect the interest of our respective ethnic/tribal groups,” said the body in a statement.

According to the joint statement, the penchant for nurturing an overriding loyalty to their respective tribes/ethnic groups based on administrative units, different Naga Political groups and organisations has led to the iron caging of the Naga society.

“Leveraging these cages of divisive mentalities, the hawkish elements within and without have weaponised and exploited the centrifugal forces at work as instruments to relegate the Nagas to mere prisoners setting them up against each other as mutual enemies/strangers with an unpredictable and distrustful dilemma,” it said.

Also Read: Opposition leader TR Zeliang meets Amit Shah to discuss Naga political issue

How the Nagas as prisoners of their own making:

The Naga body further stated that the dilemma faced by the Nagas as prisoners of their own making is that each party, tribe and organization is tempted to think that it is better off working against each other rather than working together against the adverse circumstances.

But in doing so, each of the Naga groups ends up worst off than they would have been if only they had cooperated with each other and not defect to work against each other, it said.

The body further stated that the failures of the past agreements and accords also corroborate the truths of these dilemmas that led groups to zealously guard their self-interests and choices, which indeed have turned out to be the most irrational acts leading the Naga society into the present-day crises.

“The Nagas cannot afford to forget the past blunders and repeat it. The choice before the Nagas is to talk to each other and find common ground to lend support to a position that realistically constitutes our non-negotiable position for an inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution based on the unique history and situation of the Nagas,” it said.

The body feels that unity is unmistakably the earnest desire of every Naga soul. However, unfortunately they have hypocritically taken ‘unity’ as synonymous with ‘uniformity’.

“While unity accepts differences necessitating the need for democratic dialogue, open-mindedness and mutual respects to work towards the recognition of common goal and the greater good of all as the fundamental basis for unity; uniformity involves an imposition of one’s will and preferences on others without space for negotiation and compromise,” it stated.

Highlighting their firmness on the foundation of Naga political movement and our historical rights, the Nagas from different regions and states said that they believe that Nagas are ‘one’ and the only way forward is to settle our differences through dialogue within the Naga family and to be unified in common purpose by agreeing to converge at a non-negotiable position for recognition of the identity of the Nagas as embodied in the Flag, Constitution and our allegiance to the Naga ancestral homeland.

Also Read: Naga forum calls for maintaining non-violence for a peaceful solution

The body also fervently appealed to the 14 Tribes of Nagaland to consider all Nagas irrespective of boundaries as ‘equal stakeholders’ as they have sacrificed so much for the common Naga cause.

“Any solution that confines itself exclusively to the present state of Nagaland would have far-reaching ramifications in the future,” it said.

The 15th October 2020 Consultative Meeting convened by the chief minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio on Naga Political Issue cannot be considered as an inclusive exercise of taking collective opinion since Naga Hoho was denied the opportunity to present the expressed views and opinions of the Naga people across the borders, they said.

According to the body, the time for self-imposed imprisonment from within and without is over and every Naga must know their struggle for freedom as a collective birthright which should be revered as sacrosanct, bigger and above all the Naga organizations and their leaders.

All Naga tribes and their frontal organizations irrespective of their sizes and borders have contributed immeasurably, and we believe that they are all equal partners in our common quest for the Nagas right to self-determination, it stated.

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