Tenants in Nagaland tag on the NSCN (IM) Outburst from the NNPGs

Perhaps this is not the time for social niceties. The truth of the matter is, many in Nagaland do not exactly see the Nagas of Manipur as having anything to do with Nagaland. There have been times too when the Nagas of Manipur are derogatorily referred to as Kacha Nagas and one such incident comes to mind when fisticuffs broke out between Naga students of Manipur and Naga students of Nagaland, when the then president of the Naga Students’ Union, Delhi used the same term while referring to students of Manipur. This was more than 30 years back, but it is obvious this mentality continues to reign in some section of the Nagas of Nagaland and this was what came out in all its ugly manifestation when the Naga National Political Groups referred to the NSCN (IM) as ‘outsiders’ and ‘tenants’ in a statement issued to the media on May 31. The bone of contention is obviously the ongoing peace process with New Delhi and the pressure that has been mounted on the NSCN (IM) in the last couple of days to come on board and get ready to sign the final pact can only be imagined and The Sangai Express has already had its say on the matter some days back. It is not the case of The Sangai Express to say which stand is more practical, but significant to note that the ‘outburst’ of the NNPGs came just a few days after a prominent legislator of Nagaland advised the NSCN (IM) that it is a ‘take it or leave it moment.’’ In an obvious retaliation to the ‘sage’  suggestion from the Naga MLA, the NSCN (IM) came out with its advice to all Naga legislators not to go overboard while speaking on the peace process. This was followed by the BJP unit of Nagaland asserting that they have every right to talk about an issue which concerns Nagaland and the people of that State.  Significant to note too that a retired IAS officer of Nagaland had recently written, ‘The NSCN (IM) is spearheading the negotiation with the Government of India and trying to decide the fate of the Nagas of Nagaland without letting us know what our future is going to look like.’ Mark the stress (TSE’s own) on the words, Nagas of Nagaland and here one finds a clear demarcation between the Nagas of Nagaland and others, particularly Nagas of Manipur. Herein lies a tale, a significant tale and one wonders how the NSCN (IM) would have taken this.
Naga Nationalism. This is what Thuingaleng Muivah and his men have tried and to a certain extent it seemed to have paid off in the sense that no Naga student of Manipur ever identified themselves with Manipur student organisations in any city of India, such as Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and closer home Shillong. But  not all have fallen line with this, as is evident in the ‘‘outsiders’ ‘tenants’ in the State of Nagaland’ line struck by the NNPGs. And it stands that to many more the NSCN (IM) is identified with the Tangkhuls, the face of the Naga underground movement, not only because of Thuingaleng Muivah but also for the other personalities within the outfit. Politically too the Tangkhuls are deemed to  be at the forefront, the late Rishang Keishing and Yangmasho Shaiza having etched their mark on the political sands of Manipur with their far sightedness mastering the art of politics. How the NSCN (IM) respond to the  ‘tenants’ and ‘outsiders’ outburst of the NNPGs remains to be seen, but one hopes and prays that any pact signed sans the NSCN (IM) does not bring back the bloody days of the post Shillong Accord days. Moreover it should also not be forgotten that it is the NSCN (IM) which first entered the ceasefire pact with the Government of India in 1997 and in many ways it should be credited with pushing the armed movement to the notice of the international world. Remember Atlanta and the Unrepresented Nations and  Peoples Organisation (UNPO). Whatever the case maybe, it is obvious that to many Nagas in Nagaland, the NSCN (IM) is increasingly seen as a group representing a particular tribe settled in Manipur and herein lies the question of whether major tribes of Nagaland, such as the Aos, Angamis and Semas would be willing to shed space to the Nagas of Manipur, particularly the Tangkhuls. It also stands that the Tangkhuls, Maos and Zeliangrongs and Kabuis of Manipur share a much closer social ties with the Meiteis of Manipur than with the Aos, Angamis and Semas of Nagaland.