Interlocutor promises the impossible

Robert A Silverstein
The Working Committee (WC) of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) issued a press release which was summarized in the April 12, 2022 issue of The Morung Express. It said, in part, “'The Naga tribes, Customary institutions, the Church and apex Civil societies have all prayed and endorsed the 17th November 2017 Agreed Position. The Tribe and Civil Society leaders intellectually assisted over fifty rounds of political negotiations,....It further stated that the Naga neighbors like the Ahoms, the Meiteis, the Kukis and tribal leaders in Arunachal Pradesh 'have been reached and consulted.' The negotiated Status Paper is not an achievement of WC, NNPGs but a common property of Naga tribes, it added.”
In a press release in the Nagaland Post dated April 15, 2022 (summarized in the Express on the same date), the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN [IM]) responded to the above: “Who are the civil societies they [the WC] are talking about ? Are the civil societies of the Nagaland State the only Naga civil societies for the Nagas ? What about the other Naga civil societies in other Naga areas ? Are they not a part of the Naga political family given by the Almighty God ? Are they not relevant in your agenda set by the Government of India [GoI] ? If NNPGs are so keen to go for a Naga solution as per its Agreed Position we wish them to go ahead and let the Naga people witness what they could achieve for the Naga people. But for the NSCN, we shall take the gentleman's stand to give our word that we cannot be a part of the NNPGs solution because of its betrayal to the Naga people's mandate of the 1929 Simon Commission Memorandum, 1947 Naga Independence Declaration and 1951 Plebiscite. NSCN can never by a party to sell out the Naga's political Nationality and identity by stooping so low. We are never going to surrender our rights so tamely. History will judge and we simply cannot betray the sacrifices of thousands of martyrs.”
On April 19, 2022, the WC published the first of a three-part article in the Express. (The other two parts appeared on April 20th and 22nd.) It said, in part, “Since physical integration [of all Naga areas in Nagaland and the surrounding states] is not possible now, the future generations must pursue reintegration with higher vision. In the meantime, one's own house must be built with one's own sweat, wood, straw and bones. To insist that Nagaland State belongs to all Nagas, north, south, east or west is sheer stupidity and unacceptable.” The WC continued, in part three of the article, “Overwhelming number of IM leaders and followers are under geography and population of Manipur State and it will remain so as per their desire. This truth to [sic] will not be brushed aside. Nagaland State on the other hand, as a federated State, already endowed with distinct sovereign power over land and resources, customary laws and traditions etc. The 'Agreed Position', reaffirmed and reinvigorated historical, political and administrative vacuum and loopholes inherited from past agreements and will remove all impediments in the future.” In other words, the gun-carrying members of the IM should get out of Camp Hebron and go back to their natural home in Manipur.
The WC closes the third part of the article with this declaration: “On WC's 'AGREED POSITION' signed with the GoI on 17th November 2017, and subsequent status paper now with the people, today we want to convey to IM leaders loud and clear that it is a judicially consulted document of Naga tribes and intellectuals, an unprecedented transparent position for Nagas in Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and also duly briefed and in the knowledge of our neighbouring [sic] communities. WC, NNPGs, as a Naga entity, has concluded talks with GoI and if IM Negotiators feel dissatisfied on any issue, they, as another Naga entity in dialogue, may approach GoI and air their displeasure and not point finger at WC, NNPGs. IM talked with GoI trusting their own philosophy while WC simply sought the advice of Naga tribes, apex civil bodies, intellectuals, heard them out and collected their views and formulated the people's demand and negotiated with GoI.
We believe, this time, WC, NNPGs have not failed the Nagas anywhere.” Finally, I reach the Centre's interlocutor, AK Mishra, a former Director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau.
He had this to say, according to an article summarizing his views in the Express dated April 23, 2022: “...AK Mishra on Saturday held a third round of talks with NSCN (IM) and ASSURED IT THAT THE FINAL SOLUTION TO THE VEXED NAGA POLITICAL ISSUE WILL BE BASED ON THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT OF 2015 [which, according to the IM, demands the integration of all Nagas and a separate National flag and Constitution].” (My Emphasis.) Mishra, “who is on his second visit to the North Eastern State, had held separate talks with the Working Committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) on Thursday had ASSURED THEM THAT THE NAGA SOLUTION WOULD BE BASED ON THE AGREED POSITION SIGNED BETWEEN THEM AND THE CENTRE ON NOVEMBER 17, 2017.” (My emphasis.) The immediately preceding two paragraphs are, even to the most delusional Naga nationalist, stating positions that are impossible to reconcile. One cannot grant one without rejecting the other. One must presume that Mishra is rational, even though his statements are not.
The IM has it right. The WC should sign a treaty with the GoI and allow the IM to self-righteously martyr itself, as it so badly wants to do. The WC should not tolerate any more procrastination from Rio and his IM apologists in the Assembly, but should demand their resignation (as they in fact do in part two of the article, by demanding that they “put in papers en masse”), and demand that the GoI simply sign the peace treaty and stop waiting for Muivah to die. It should be presumed that the surviving others leading the IM, if he should die, will not be any more amenable to doing what the WC is willing to do, which is, live within the Constitution of India. It's time for the GoI's double talk to stop and for it to have the courage to move forward now.