Nagas and India will remain two separate entities : Thuingaleng Muivah-VI
The readers must have read the news of this interview on October 17 and many would have seen the interview (recorded or live on October 16) of the interview. Nevertheless the full transcript of the interview which is long, very long, is being reproduced here courtesy The Wire. The interview will be serialised and we hope the readers enjoy it and gain an insight on the subject.
On October 16, in an interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, the general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) Thuingaleng Muivah revealed that there are still sharp differences that are separating the NSCN from the Indian government. He repeatedly and forcefully said that the Nagas will never be part of the Indian Union nor will they accept India’s constitution. He said there could be no compromise on the NSCN’s insistence on a Naga flag and Naga Constitution. “We have stood our ground on these two non-negotiable issues and we shall continue to stand till the last man standing”, he said. Muivah added that Naga organisations like the Naga National Political Groups or several civil society organisations, who are not insisting on a separate flag and Constitution, are “traitors”.
In a 55-minute interview, the 86-year-old Muivah also sharply criticised RN Ravi, the Interlocutor and Nagaland Governor. He says Ravi has “betrayed” the NSCN. He said “he has thrown us away” and that he was acting at the behest of the Home Ministry.
The following is a transcript of the interview.
KT : Tell me this. When you say to Ravi that these proposals are acceptable only as a transitional step, only as a way of getting to the final goal, what is his reply? What does he say to you?
TM : Yes, he also agreed.
KT : He agreed?
TM : Yes.
KT : He’s agreed that this is only a transitional measure?
TM : The integration [of all Naga areas. All Nagas, this is the history. So, this must be cleared.
KT : But, you’re saying an important thing. You’re saying Ravi, the interlocutor, has accepted that these proposals – the pan-Naga Hoho, the Naga regional territorial councils – are only a transitional step, he’s accepted that?
TM : Well, you know, why ? Because the actual condition, the actual conditions, still we are facing, cannot be totally ignored. We have to meet the actual condition. Okay, now, let us sit together then.
KT : So, your position is the same as it was in 2005, when I interviewed you for the BBC program ‘HardTalk India’. You’re saying the Government must accept, in principle, the creation of Nagalim, but we are prepared to give them time to implement it; but now you’re saying they can even implement it in transitional stages. That is your position?
TM : You know, that is how we have understood each other. You know, it has been officially accepted.
KT : By the government?
TM : By Ravi.
KT : So, Ravi has accepted that this is only a transitional step?
TM : No, no, no, no. Let me tell you this. Integration. All Naga areas must be integrated and this is their right.
KT : And Ravi has accepted this?
TM : Yes.
KT : You’re sure?
KT : Okay. I’ll take your word for it, it comes as a great surprise to me, but I’ll take your word for it.
TM : You know, it is like this, you know, we have agreed in many ways. I mean, the committees, how many committees we have to create. All these things have been betrayed.
KT : By whom ? Who’s doing the betraying ?
TM : Ravi! Ravi is the one betraying. That is why we say, well, these are the understandings we have made, we have agreed!
KT : Let’s talk about Ravi. We’ve already talked about three big issues where you have differences with the Indian Government: flag and Constitution was the first; sovereignty is the second; the third is this issue of Nagalim. Let’s, now, come to Ravi. He’s lost your trust and you have asked for him to be removed. Can you explain why ? What has gone wrong with Ravi ?
TM : Okay. Are you inheriting Nagaland from the British, or from who? See.
KT : But come to Ravi. Why has Ravi lost your trust ?
TM : You know, you have to ask him. Why ? Because, we have had enough talks now. So, yes, yes, yes we have come up to this. How is it that he has to declare that within such and such time, within three months time, that agreement must be completed. After that, I mean, immediately after that, all the Naga areas must be included in the Indian Union. Under the Indian Union, they have to be. That is the ultimatum given last year in the – I mean the – last year.
KT : So, you’re saying Ravi has gone back on what he has talked about and agreed with you. Is that what you’re saying? He’s gone back?
TM : Ravi has openly declared, and the whole world knows it now, and so it was a total surprise to us: agreement is already signed !
KT : This is why you say he has betrayed you?
TM : Hmm ?
KT : This is why you used the word ‘betrayal’?
TM : Yeah.
KT : Ravi has betrayed you?
TM : Yes! How many times he has betrayed us, you know?
KT : There are two stories in the papers which explain why you are upset with Ravi, I want to put them to you one by one. First, it said, you are angry with Ravi because in a letter he wrote on the June 16 to the Chief Minister of Nagaland, he referred to Naga groups – presumably including yours – as armed gangs. Did that upset you ?
TM : Yes. He called us armed gangs, he called us terrorists. He called terrorists, we will not respect your statement also. So, he has thrown us.
KT : He has thrown you?
TM : Thrown us away, you know, all the agreement we have understood each other. Now, no more, where is he now? Why should we trust him ? He’s not for a solution, he’s there to suppress the Nagas. He’s the co-leader of Nagaland now. Governor of Nagaland deals with law and order issues, not with politics. In our case, this is a political issue between the Nagas and India. So, at the highest level, PV Narasimha Rao, we have agreed with each other, since, “Mr Prime Minister, you know, since you have also – from your side also – analysed the fact, the truth, of our history. So, you know, you said from your side this is not – I mean – military solution is not possible.”
KT : Absolutely. Let me come to, what the newspapers say, is a second reason why you are upset with Ravi. It’s said that he has circulated copies of the Framework Agreement to other Naga groups like the NNPG, deleting the word ‘new’ from the sentence that says, “GOI and NSCN will provide for an enduring, inclusive, new relationship of peaceful co- existence of the two entities.” Explain to me why is that word ‘new’ so important to you?
TM : ‘New’ – the term ‘new’ – that is added, changed by him. Changed by him. That is why, afterward, we came to know it, so we were not happy with him. How is it that he has to go on betraying like this? New relationship. Now he’s changing like this and circulating to all the NNPGs and the Nagaland fourteen traps. That is how he has been playing, and has been used. By whom?
KT : You tell me. Who is using him ? Who is using him ?
TM : The Government of India, the authorities of the Indian Government, particularly the home authorities
KT : Home Minister ?
TM : Because they say, Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry of Home Affairs, they used to issue the orders. So-
KT : So, you’re saying – or you’re suggesting – that the Home Minister Amit Shah is putting Ravi up to this and, at his directions, Ravi is betraying the understanding reached with you?
TM : Of course, you know, Ravi cannot act on his own. Indians, they have a Government, their Government is using them – using Ravi – but in what way? To solve the Naga political problems, or the problems of India ?
KT : Muivah, you have explained to me why Ravi has lost your trust; you have explained to me why you don’t believe in him; why you think he has betrayed you. But there’s another problem. Your organisation wants Ravi removed but, once again, the NNPGs, the Naga village heads, have gone on record to say they don’t want Ravi removed.
TM : Na, na, na, na, na let us not try to fight this way. No, no. Political issue of two people, two Nations. Come on, on that line, there’s a stop. Why? Why? Because that is the stand, you have that from your side also, that is the stand from our side also. So, the Govt of India’s side, they changed now everything!
KT : But you said a very interesting thing. You said this is a political issue of two Nations. You see the Nagas as a separate Nation different to India, is that right ?
(To be contd)