Nagas and India will remain two separate entities : Thuingaleng Muivah-IX
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 : How much time-
TM : All the Nagas-
KT : When you say, “withi-
TM : No, no, no, no all the Nagas will have to be in the Indian Union. That ultimatum is not from us, that is from the Indian side. How long will they go on imposing on us like that?
KT : But how long are you prepared to keep waiting for the Indians to change, how much more time are you prepared to give the talks ?
TM : You are right, we have taken almost all the possible steps. So, yes, yes, yes, signed, admitted, okay. So, where are they now? Are we betraying them or they are betraying us?
KT : But the one thing you’re not telling me is how much longer you’re prepared to continue talking? Is there a deadline by when you’ll say, “This is enough, I’m going.”
TM : Okay, 23 years now talking, talking, talking. Have we not had the patience to solve the problem? Have we not had the patience?
KT : So, when will patience run out? Are you prepared to-
TM : Patience towards the Indians? You want that then [that the talks] should continue even 100 years from now. How?
KT : But the danger is, if you walk out then the Government will do a deal with the other groups. I’ve named the other groups. Then you will be the only party left out.
TM : If you bring those people who were – who had accepted already to be under the Indians. If you are using them to undermine us, sorry, sorry, we will never listen to them.
KT : My last question. You won’t tell me when you will stop talking. But you are indicating that you’re getting to the end, you are indicating that you could be compelled to leave, but you won’t tell me how much more time you’re giving the talks.
TM : Yes.
KTY : Let me ask you this. Whenever the talks end, whenever the NSCN walks away, will you resume the violence and the fighting? Will we then go back to the situation before 1997?
TM : Okay, you know, you need to ask that question to the Indian Government. On our part, we have had enough patience. So up to this also, we have tolerated. But the ultimatum – last year’s ultimatum – given to us, “You must accept this agreement.” This order, and all the Nagas must be under the Indian Union. They have declared. Did you not hear that ? That ultimatum?
KT : But I’m asking a different question. I’m going to repeat it because it’s important. How much more time are you prepared to give these talks before you get fed-up and leave? How much more time are you prepared to keep talking?
TM : We are still having patience, waiting, waiting, waiting. How long they want us, to keep us waiting?
KT : So, you have not, as yet, run out of patience?
TM : Hmm?
KT : You have not run out of patience?
TM : That is not up to me but that is, you know, according to how they behave.
KT : And what happens when you do run out of patience? Will the NSCN go back to fighting? Will the insurgency – as the Indians call it – begin again? Will we go back to the situation before the 1997 ceasefire?
Okay, you know, have we not had the patience? Now, it has come to 23 years, have we not had the patience?
You want still, how many years?
I’ve asked you these two questions repeatedly, in many many different forms, I’m just pointing out that, for good understandable strategic reasons, you are not prepared to tell me how much more time you are willing to give the talks and you are not willing to tell me what will happen if you walk out, whether the fighting will resume or restart. These are two answers you do not want to tell me.
You’re right, you’re right. But don’t expect that Nagas should wait for the Indians even 100 years more, still. Please, don’t do that. Nagas will not accept that. We have had enough patience. We have had, taking positive steps – even to live together, to have this co-existence of the two, we have come. Is this not a sensible step?
Okay. Muivah, I thank you for this interview. I thank you for making three or four things crystal clear. I’m repeating them for the audience, because I think they’re very important. You said that a separate Naga constitution and a separate Naga flag cannot be compromised on – these are essential. You said that shared sovereignty does not mean you will accept the Indian constitution, you will not be part of the Indian Union. You are also saying that you are prepared to give the Indian government time to create Nagalim, as a transitional measure, the proposals made by Ravi are acceptable but only as a transitional measure. And finally, you’re saying it is important that the talks happen directly at the highest level-
But although you are running out of patience, you haven’t completely run out of it as yet, that you’re not at the stage where you’re walking away.
Okay, but have we not had the patience in the past 23 years now? Do you think Indians have the patience? No. We have the patience, we have the patience. Unique history and this, this, this, agreed. But now, we have to live under the Indian Union, that is the ultimatum given-
And that you’re not prepared to do.
Well, if the Indian would come and impose like this, are we to worship them? No. We will not worship them. Nagas have Naga rights. Now, we will respect yours, you – from the Indian side – you also respect ours, then that is the meeting point. So, respecting each other to come closer. So, peaceful co-existence of the two entities. But now, who is betraying? Who is giving the ultimatum? Betraying? It is from your side, not from our side.
Muivah, we’ve come to the end of this interview. Thank you very much for talking so openly to me, thank you.
Courtesy The Wire