NSCN (IM) and NNPGs under one roof Lessons for all
It was with a reason why six different outfits came together at the fag end of 2016 to form the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to give another boost to the peace process in Nagaland. Rivals at one point of time, even going to the extent of gunning for each other, but it was the larger political objective of sealing a deal for the Naga people that the six groups came together at the fag end of 2016. This was the year the formal announcement of the coming together was announced, but negotiations, feelers etc must have already started years before 2016 and this is what is significant. Made up of the GPRN/NSCN, FGN, NNC (Parent body), NPGN/NNC (NA), NSCN (R) and NNC/GDRN (NA), the NNPGs proceeded to ink the Agreed Position pact with the Government of India in 2017. On the other hand, the NSCN (IM) which had since then been spearheading the Naga issue, had already inked the Framework Agreement on August 3 of 2015 after inking the ceasefire pact with New Delhi in 1997. It also stands that at one point of time the two entities, that is the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs seemed to have adopted contrasting positions, vis-a-vis the different points raised to New Delhi and to the public they were seen as rivals, each purportedly representing the interests of the Naga people. This is the reason why the joint statement issued on October 19, 2022 has ‘maturity and casting aside personal ego’ written all over it and this is something to be acknowledged. The Naga armed movement has seen its fratricidal clashes most prominently between cadres of the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (K) and earlier, the Accordists. The Forum of Naga Reconciliation (FNR) may be said to be a child of the factional clashes that the Naga underground movement spawned for decades and it is under their initiative that the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs have decided to come together to form the Council of Naga Relationships and Cooperation (CNRC). A move forward, one may say and perhaps here is a lesson to be learnt from the ‘mother of all insurgency’. It was a civil society organisation, the FNR in this case, which took the major role to bring together the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs on the same platform and provide the right ambience and room for the two groups to work together in the greater interest of the Naga people. The key words here are ‘in the greater interest of the Naga people’ and perhaps herein lies the most important point for all other armed groups operating and active in the North East region.
No one knows how far the coming together of the two groups under one body will go, but the important point to acknowledge is that a beginning has been made. And this is important and significant. In Assam too, the ULFA has seen a divide with Rajkhowa group preferring to talk with the Government of India and Paresh Rawal continuing to wage war under the name ULFA (I). However it is important here to note that not much is heard of intense pressure being mounted on the media or civil society organisations either in Nagaland or Assam. Either side in Assam continue with the name ULFA though one made an initial to distinguish it from the other. It was the same when the NSCN broke into two groups-the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (K). Many were assassinated when the NSCN split and in the years that followed, but then again not much of pressure being mounted on the media and other civil society organisations to toe the line of one group or the other is heard. Or is it a case of everyone being brow beaten into quiet submission in the two neighbouring States ? The joint statement and the coming together of the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs under CNRC can be better understood in the context of the Naga issue gaining the upper hand and the realisation that infighting amongst the Naga family is not the need of the hour. There is a lesson to be learnt here and it would be in the fitness of things for all to acknowledge this and stop subjecting the media to unwanted pressure of pulls and pushes.