Call of ‘Nagas of Nagaland’ Isolating NSCN (IM) ?
A gross miscalculation for all his far sightedness or a case of misjudging a far sighted personality ? It could be either but what is unfolding could be a reflection of the reality knocking hard on the consciousness of everyone. Thuingaleng Muivah, the architect of the movement spawned by the NSCN (IM) and earlier the NSCN after it split from the NNC post the Shillong Accord of 1975, is today ironically being isolated and pushed into a corner. If former Chief Minister of Nagaland SC Jamir preferred tact over bluntness with his ‘Nagas of Nagaland’ observation, Deputy Chief Minister of the neighbouring State Y Patton has been more straight with his words in asserting that it is the demand for a separate ‘Constitution and Flag’ for the Nagas that are the main obstacles to a final pact. Different words but both conveying the same message that any final pact is meant for the Nagas of Nagaland and it is the demand put up by the NSCN (IM) which is standing in the way of a final deal. Central to both observation is the line, ‘Nagas of Nagaland’ and SC Jamir and Y Patton may have a point or two, whether one agrees with their stand or not. Or is it a case of some unseen but influential hands playing the old card of the ‘Nagas of Nagaland’ and the ‘outsider Nagas’ ? A point which the Working Committee of the NNPGs has hinted more than once. Why is the NSCN (IM) so determined on a separate Flag and Constitution for the Nagas ? More importantly, at least to the people of Manipur, particularly the Meiteis, are the separate Flag and Constitution meant only for the Nagas of Nagaland or for the Nagas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh ? If the answer is yes then does this mean that Manipur will have two flags, one for the Naga dominated districts and another one for the rest of the State ? No straight answer has been forthcoming so far, but this is a question worth raising and would be significant for the people of Manipur. New Delhi will have its own reason for rejecting the demand raised by the NSCN (IM), especially given the fact that it was just in 2019 that the special status, which included a Constitution and a Flag for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was abolished by the BJP led Government ? From what can be read into what has come out from the political leaders of Nagaland and the NNPGs, the Flag and Constitution demand for the Nagas is immaterial at this point and what is needed is a final agreement. The Nagas are tired, is a line that is often used to justify their stand.
Not verbally expressed but implicit in the line ‘Nagas are tired’ is the stand that the Nagas here refer to the people of Nagaland and not the Nagas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Such a line of thought runs contrary to the idea of Naga Nationhood which has been pursued by Muivah and his men for decades. Remember, even before the ceasefire pact with New Delhi was signed in 1997, the idea of Naga Nationhood cutting across the boundaries of the States of Nagaland and Manipur had already started doing its round, most visible in the fact that no Naga student of Manipur was and is a member of any student body with the name Manipur. They were and are all members of student bodies qualified by the term Nagas. It was therefore not surprising to see and hear Naga students from Manipur identifying themselves as people from Nagaland and not their native State ! To a certain extent this approach seemed to work and people of Nagaland were happy to go along with this identification as this probably meant a geographically bigger Nagaland. The fact however stands that the Nagas of Manipur, the Tangkhuls, the Maos and Marams, the Zeliangrongs or Liangmeis, Rongmeis and Zemes had and still have much more in common with the Meiteis of Manipur than with the Nagas of Nagaland. This is a fact which no one can refute. So if the Nagas of Nagaland, represented by their political leaders and retired bureaucrats see themselves as Nagas of Nagaland, perhaps it is time for Th Muivah and his men to come to terms with the idea of Manipur which is home to the Nagas and Meiteis, the two indigenous people of Manipur.