A rally organised by the Angami (name of a Naga tribe) Youth Organisation – AYO
– and supported by several other Naga organisations on April 2, saw thousands of
Naga youths taking to the streets in Kohima district to protest against unabated
extortions, abductions, ransom calls and fratricidal killings between the Naga
militant groups that have claimed thousands of innocent lives in the past
decades. Further, all these criminal activities have continued despite fifteen
years of ceasefire and peace talks between the main group, National Socialist
Council of Nagaland/Nagalim-Issac/Muivah faction and the government of India.
AYO also submitted a memorandum to Nagaland Home Minister Imkong L. Imchen,
asking the government to clamp down on these groups that have caused anguish to
people. It also demanded that all factions/militants adhere to the ceasefire
ground rules strictly, that militants be evicted from civilian areas where they
have been openly moving about with sophisticated weapons and wearing ‘uniforms’
and be kept confined to their designated camps.
On April 11, in an open show of non-cooperation against the NSCN (IM) ‘Azha’
(diktat), which amounted to an economic blockade on the Changki citizens of
Mokokchung restricting their movement and transportation of essential
commodities to the village, more than a hundred Changki village youths travelled
up to Mariani in Assam to reinforce that the routes were open for Changki
citizens to travel. The move of the Changki youths came in the wake of the
reported restrictions on movement of Changki citizens to other districts like
Dimapur and Kohima, and the transport of essential commodities to the village
from outside. On April 9, it was reported that a bus from Changki to Dimapur was
halted near Longpha Yimsen junction and was asked to move back by the NSCN (IM)
cadres; while a Maruti van carrying passengers from Changki to Kohima was also
forced to return to the village in Mokokchung. This was yet another typical act
of NSCN-IM’s suppression of common Naga people.
NSCN-IM and ULFA – Close Links
NSCN-IM’s close links with United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA, whose so
called pro-talks faction has been having peace talks with the government) have
further developed into a network of contacts with some other groups in Nagaland,
Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh for procuring and trafficking sophisticated
arms, which are also being supplied to Left Wing extremists/naxal-maoists, who
have made inroads into the northeast, particularly Assam.
According to the sources cited in the north-eastern media, arms like assault
rifles are purchased from Myanmar and some Chinese agents for `800,000, while
sophisticated pistols cost `400,000 to `500,000.
Another development reported in May 2012 is that Myanmar has granted ‘autonomy’
to the NSCN-Khaplang (K) group in three districts of Sagaing, an administrative
region in northwest Myanmar, bordering Nagaland and Manipur, and also known as
the hub of heroin trafficking. Y Wangtin Naga, an NSCN-K leader from India, who
was one of the six signatories of the April 9 bilateral ceasefire with the
Myanmar Government said, “Nagas have autonomy in Lahe, Layse and Nanyang in
Sagaing region and we are looking for self-administration in more Naga populated
districts in Kachin.” The Khaplang cadres, who are now free to move unarmed
anywhere in Myanmar, also want self-administration in the Naga areas of Mawlaik,
Phongpyn and Homlin in Sagaing and Tanai (Teniang) and Shingbwiyang areas in
Kachin State. Having struck a peace deal with Naypyidaw, the rebels are hoping
it will give them greater bargaining power with New Delhi. “This is the first
time in 70 years of Naga fighting that any organisation has signed agreements
with two countries,” Wanting said.
Peace Talks at a ‘Sensitive’ Stage
On August 1, it was reported that just before handing over of the portfolio of
Union Home Ministry, P Chidambaram briefed media in New Delhi that the ongoing
peace talks between the NSCN (IM) leadership and the government had reached a
“sensitive stage” and efforts were on to iron out a long standing solution for
the over six decade old Naga political problem. Replying to a question, Mr.
Chidambaram said that all 60 legislators of the Nagaland Assembly belonging to
all political parties in the state, including the Congress, would reach Delhi in
the first week of August to meet him and the Prime Minister in support of the
ongoing peace talks. He added that even the Naga Hoho, a respected body of the
Naga people, had expressed its satisfaction at the progress of the ongoing peace
talks, which are being handled with utmost care and sincerity by the principal
negotiators and the government. Mr. Chidambaram said that all the MLAs coming to
New Delhi on August 6 and 7 to meet the Home Minister and the Prime Minister
expressed their support for the peace talks. It is pertinent to mention here
that on July 19, the Nagaland Legislative Forum decided to resign if required,
for finding a solution to the ongoing peace talks. Significantly, Mr Chidambaram
made it clear that “first we will try to reach an agreement with the NSCN (IM).
Only then we will talk with the other two groups provided they are willing to
talk. As everybody knows, one group lives outside India.” He obviously meant the
NSCN-K faction, which has been fighting from the Myanmar Naga inhabited area
bordering India. Regarding the possibility of an interim government taking
representatives from NSCN factions, Chidambaram cautioned, “Let’s not go too
fast. Let’s complete the first step. Then we will think about the next step.”
Chidambaram, who had then just returned from his two-day Assam visit following
the riots in Kokrajhar district, soon after the crowded press conference
resigned and took over the finance portfolio and Sushil Kumar Shinde became the
new Home Minister in the UPA-II cabinet.
Eventually on the 6th of August 60 legislators of Nagaland arrived in New Delhi
and urged the Prime Minister to finalise an acceptable solution on the Naga
issue before the state assembly election due in February 2013. Sources in the
Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in Kohima reportedly informed
that the all MLA’s cutting across party lines met Dr Manmohan Singh and Sushil
Kumar Shinde and urged them to finalise a solution which was acceptable and
honourable by February 2013. The MLAs were also slated to meet NSCN-IM leaders
over the next two days, said sources. Over 40 NSCN-IM leaders were camping in
New Delhi for the purpose of informal talks with the central leaders, prior to
the next round of formal talks.
It was also reported that under the aegis of the Naga Hoho and the Eastern
Nagaland Peoples Organisation (ENPO), rallies would be held in all the ‘Naga
areas’ to urge for the early settlement of the Indo-Naga political conflict.
Churches in these areas would conduct special prayers for the early settlement
of the vexed Indo-Naga political conflict. Around the same time, NSCN-K led by
SS Khaplang stated that “only sovereignty for the Nagas” would be accepted.
On August 26, the Naga Students Federation (NSF) reiterated its stand to play a
supportive role towards bringing an “honourable, acceptable and workable
settlement for the entire Nagas, not compromising with its motto ‘For Unified
Lim and Glory of Nagas’.” This was resolved in a joint consultative meeting of
senior leaders, federal and subordinate units held at Japhu Hotel, Kohima on
New Delhi’s dealing with the Naga problem, particularly the ‘Naglim’ concept of
unification of all Naga-inhabited areas, is fraught with the possibilities of it
exploding. If on one hand New Delhi is looking east for the development and
progress of the northeast, peace is an essential ingredient. To achieve this
some meaningful course-correction is not just highly recommended, but needs to
be done urgently.