Indo-Naga peace dialogue: Another Shillong Accord in the making
Sira Kharay, Advocate
The credal premise of India’s counter-insurgency policy in the Northeast has been dogmatically Machiavellian. Platonic obsession with metaphysical security calculations sans any political morality continues to inform India’s conventional Naga policy. In the absence of any farsighted policy roadmap for lasting peace, the hard-earned truce is in ragtag once again. Being run from the clinical psyche of the typical Indian intelligence, the code program “ceasefire” has become another soft offensive tactical war for dousing Naga nationalism.
By semantic manipulation of the mystifying term “inclusiveness”, the international character of the conflict negotiation is being rapidly “localized”. Masquerading in the misleading narrative of “accommodating all the interested groups and stakeholders”, the erstwhile juristic entity of “one Naga nationhood” has been polarized into mere fragments of multiple localized “groups and stakeholders”. By politically engaging with the “7NNPGs, NTC, Church Leaders and Civil Societies” dehors the cease-fire ground rules, even the fringe voices within the Naga society have been validated to delegitimize the traditional mandate of NSCN (I-M). The high negotiating table has been thus reduced into an arena for contest of local supremacy among the sprouting “Naga groups” invented by the Interlocutor now qualified as “Internal”.
Eventually, the term “two entities” has been paraphrased as to mean “GOI and the party” and “not between India and Nagas”. This is replete with dangerous political undertones. The intention is to disconnect the notion of the term “Naga nationalist movement” away from the “Naga people”, and whereas for the Nagas, the movement espoused by the Naga nationalists itself is constitutive of the “Naga people” themselves. The idea of the term “Nagas” is thus being gradually bastardized into non-juridical “groups” of “chaotic individuals” rather than being treated as a “people, a nation” at the negotiating table. This is achieved by fostering multiple “willing dissident players” within the Naga society camouflaged as “stakeholders” rather than being treated the “Naga interest” as represented by one entity.
In tandem with it, constant attempts are further being made to municipalize the nature of the Indo-Myanmar-Naga international armed conflict into a mere internalized constitutional problem by dragging the contours of the negotiation into the entrapment of Article 3 of the Indian Constitution. There have been strange consultative meetings with the neighbouring state civil societies as though the impending Indo-Naga peace pact would emanate from Article 3 as within the Constitution of India rather than from the treaty-making power as enshrined under Articles 73 and 253 of the Indian Constitution. Unlike the Naga situation, Article 3 of the Indian Constitution for that matter only deals with the power to adjust internal state boundaries among the municipal states which have already been merged with the Union of India.
Against this backdrop, RN. Ravi at last tunes into his predecessor L.P. Singh’s doctrine of “localize and subjugate”. A new Frankenstein has been born in the form of “7NNPGs and NTC” to isolate the mainstream NSCN (I-M). In the absence of any third-party international mediator, India re-interprets the 3rd August Framework Agreement at its unilateral convenience. The question of Naga national “flag and constitution” has been reserved for future negotiation. Seemingly, the proposed solution can only be within the Indian Constitution because “Nagaland is within Union of India”. A deadline has been set for 31st October, 2019 to accept the imposed package. An offensive psychological warfare has already begun to browbeat NSCN (I-M) into toing the line of its collaborationist Ketovi. India is about to repeat another costly “Shillong Accord”.
This is not surprising. First, India unilaterally abrogated the only binding Indo-Naga peace treaty, popularly known as the Nine Point Agreement, 1947 in violation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969. Thereafter, India bred the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) into signing of the 16 Point Agreement, 1960 to form the present collaborationist State of Nagaland on 1st December, 1963 by sidelining the Naga National Council (NNC). Thereafter, L.P. Singh raised another Liaison Committee for signing the notorious Shillong Accord, 1975 in another attempt to coup the Naga National Council (NNC). In the same modus operandi, RN. Ravi now finds a new collaborationist in his proxy “7NNPGs and NTC” with a proposed “package” more insulting than the earlier 16 Point Agreement, 1960.
With Modi’s “saffronized” India having already plunged into Hindu supremacist agenda celebrating the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, the hope for “unique” Naga solution is becoming a distant dream. BJP’s renewed ideological stance in the idea of “universal uniformity” and “one nation, one flag and one constitution” portends to a turbulent future that is soon to unleash. In this pathological discourse, “diversity” must give way to “absolute uniformity”. However, as rightly warned by Foucault and Mouffe, such hegemonistic emphasis on “universal uniformity” runs the risk of aggravating nationalist/ethnic identity politics giving rise to far-right extremism and such explosion of antagonism has the risk of tearing up the very basis of the protagonist nation itself.
Be that as it may. India must stop equating the unique Naga situation with that of Kashmir. Nagas at no point in history have ever come so close to India as at present and India must not waste away this rare opportunity for permanent peace with false militaristic hope for total elimination. India may be for that matter reminded of her international law obligations as enshrined under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969. Surely, the terms of the Nine-Point Agreement, 1947 are still binding on both India and the Nagas and for the sake of international morality, India is expected to implement the second binding 3rd August Framework Agreement in light of that spirit.
Sadly, the “7NNPGs and NTC” have been hard appealing to the false ontological sense of the “Nagaland Nagas” on the flawed premise of temporal geography to co-opt their narrower “indianized” version of “Naganess”. For the factional hatred of anything that is NSCN (I-M), Nagas are today at a lost to choose “collective extinction” in the name of the Indian-construct “Nagaland Nagas” like the native American Indians. AZ. Phizo, perhaps, once forewarned, “Nagas will never surrender in the battle field, but many Nagas will fall when money was shot through the barrel of gun”. In the same premonition, the “7NNPGs and NTC” may be reminded that the mythical Eurydice’s death was not caused by fleeing from Aristaeus, but by dancing with naiads on her wedding day.