Naga Nationalism Change and continuity: An overview

Naga Nationalism Change and continuity: An overview

By Thangmoi Haokip

It’s an uphill task to pen down the whole picture of the Naga political movement, in other words, Naga Nationalism in one frame. However, an attempt has been made to bring some sort of factual testimony about an age-old long Naga Movement from the 20th Century to the 21st century which can be called as a living movement. The Nagas issue has become one of the Longest memo which had still relevant in today’s contemporary Indian politics. The movement which took place from 1918 under the able leadership of Az Phizo to T. Muivah has had a vast impact on India’s internal security at large, following several peace talks from abroad and the Indian soil yet, no final settlement at the existing moment.

There have been numerous ethnic movements that operated and are active in different Nation states and thus Naga Movement was one among them on Indian soil. With the coming of the British to India, various tribes / communities from the composite state of Assam resist the British colonialism and fought back against the mighty British in defense of their ancestral land, for instance, Anglo-Kuki war or the Kuki Rising 1917-1919 one year ahead of the Nagas movement, had there been a political conciousness like the Nagas the Kukis may also have a far reaching impact for their right and self determination in this present political scenario.The presence of the British was an advantage for some communities as there was an exchange of ideas, and the concept of political consciousness and self-determination gained momentum, especially among the tribal Nagas, Their presence on the Indian soil became a turning point for the tribes of North East India where the so called Middle class/elite emerged in various sections of society.

It may not be wrong to say that the Nagas movement has become one of the most influential movements in the history of humankind, keeping in mind the uniqueness of Naga history and culture it always had a space for discussion in the state politics in particular the national politics in general since its inception in 1918 with the formation of the Naga Club where the roots of political consciousness and self-determination born, this club provided the socio-political foundation for Naga Nationalist movement eventually becoming a platform for the entire Nagas to raise their grievances and demand. In the year 1929, the club submitted a memorandum to the Simon commission requesting that Naga should be given a choice of self-determination after British departure from Indian soil. one interesting fact is that during Naga Movement in 1930-31 there was a close relationship between Naga and Kuki as per British record book, for instance, the then Lengjang Kuki Interpreter was a signatory of a memorandum submitted to Simon commission. I would like to share a few lines of the memorandum which reads” if the British government, however, wants to throw us away, we pray that we should not be thrust into the mercy of the people who could never have conquered us themselves, and to whom we were never subjected but leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times” ( Naga Club Memorandum) Change and continuity can be witnessed from the Birth of NNC to earlier Naga Club. The formation of Naga National council out of Naga district tribal council heralded the rise of the middle-class intellectuals. NNC became a political organization for the nagas to raise their issues and concerns eventually led to the signing of 9 points Hydari Agreement with the government of India however NNC decisively rejected the government’s interpretation of a particular clause of the hydari Agreement. some notable public figures of India commented that the Naga position on self-determination was anti national and the naga struggle was a direct challenge to the nation and state building process in independent India but few leaders like Nehru, Gandhi ,Narayan, understood the Naga standpoint. In opposition to Hydari Agreement AZ Phizo and his team met Gandhi on 19 July 1947 what Gandhi told the delegation that ” The Nagas have every right to be independent. we did not want to live under the domination of the British and they are now leaving I want you to feel that India is yours. but if you said that it is not mine the matter must stop there. I believe in the brotherhood of man but I do not believe in forced unions. but if you do not wish to join the union of India, nobody will force you to do that” it became a complicated standpoint for the leaders of India to surpass or sideline The Nagas’ self-determination and political consciousness which has been drawn from the public sentiments that binds the social fabric of various Nagas tribes in a single platform.The signing of the Shillong Accord in 1975 between the NNC & government of India can be seen as a major drawback for Naga sovereignty this becomes one factor in change and continuity too. however the creation of the Nagaland state in December 1963 and the conduct of a successful election marked the beginning of a new relationship of the Naga people with the Indian union. Contrary to the Shillong accord, In 1980 under the leadership of Thuengaleng Muivah, Isak chisi swu, and SS Khaplang from Myanmar formed NSCN however in April 1988 the NSCN splits into two factions NSCN(IM) & NSCN(k) one can say that there has been tremendous change and continuity to the Naga movement since 1918 ideological differences among the party leaders may be the root cause of splits. slowly and gradually The Naga movement gains momentum in the public sphere on August 3, 2015, A historic framework agreement was signed between NSCN(IM) and GoI however, the agreement was not in the public domain so far. The change of Interlocutor from Ravi to the incumbent interlocutor AK Mishra for the Indo-Naga peace talks has thrown more confusion about the future of Nagas, on the otherhand, it is crystal clear that the demand for a separate flag and constitution by NSCN(IM) cannot be accepted by the Indian Government this was also pronounced by the Deputy CM of Nagaland in his public speech stating that controversial demand for a separate flag and constitution as a part of Naga peace process “must end” and there must be “breakthrough” before March 2023 Assembly pool. Nobody knows what could be the reason for the government’s hesitation in unaccepting their demands. Nevertheless, GoI has to do something for the Nagas keeping in mind an age-old long pending movement from the 20th century to the 21st century which can be termed as a living movement till a final settlement is made. Initially, Nehru offered the Sixth schedule to the people of Nagas but it was a small cake for them and hence rejected as they want something bigger than the sixth schedule. the government also could not forget that there were signatories to Suspension of Operation in the case of Kuki insurgent groups under the Umbrella of KNO and UPF besides, Manipur integrity is a big question to ponder here but everything lies in the hand of the Central government for any necessary action to be taken to bring Amicable solution to the Indo- Naga political issue. Netizen is aware of the recent development with regard to ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in what way can the Government satisfy the NSCN(IM) to bring a final solution at the earliest is what the public is looking for it.

Such a historic movement would not be ended easily, the outcome should be rational and logical, keeping in mind tremendous change and continuity regarding the Indo-Naga peace talks starting from submitting memorandum to Simon Commission later on signing the hydari Agreement, ceasefire, & towards Historic framework agreement signed in 2015, the central government is on the process to inked final agreement for an age-old long historic movement, sensibly for the interest of the Nagas in particular and the public in general.

Views are personal.

(The writer is a Student Activist, Education secretary to Kuki Students’ Organisation General Headquarters an Apex Students body of Kuki Tribes can be reached at haokipthanglenmoi@gmail.com)

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