By W. Shapwon*
The Indo-Naga conflict is a case of aggression and by addressing the nub of conflict, if the Government of India (GoI) solves the conflict, it will be a good reputation and dignity for a large democracy country of India. But the GoI never did it, instead tries to internalize the Indo-Naga conflict. Therefore, the conflict cannot solve till date.
The conflict is a case of aggression because the conflict didn’t arise as the Naga Army invaded India and Burma, or demanded an independent or autonomous state from them. But India and Burma sent their Army to independent Nagaland in 1954 after they had emancipated from the yoke of British Colony. The Nagas have enough proof and evidence to show the conflict as a case of aggression.
Firstly: The Nagas have no common history with the Indians and Burmans, and Nagaland territory has no connection with their countries. Nagaland has never being parts of their countries by conquest nor consent. Before the advent of the British, the Nagas never knew the Indians and neither did India know the Nagas. For the first time, Nagas came to know the Indians when the British brought their Indian mercenaries to Nagaland in 1832. Since then the Nagas and the British were engaged in the intermittent warfare which lasted for nearly 48 years as the Nagas relentlessly defended their sovereignty. The last war was fought at Khonoma village on 22nd November 1879.
Thereafter, a verbal peace agreement was concluded on March 27, 1880 between two people (Britishers and Nagas). The British proposed to have a written agreement but the Nagas refused it, thus the Nagas have no treaty and agreement with the British to have surrendered their sovereignty to the British suzerainty. But the British had taken the advantage of peace, and administered one-fourth of Naga country up to 1947 but left the three-fourth as Free Nagas till they departed from India and Burma. The Eastern Nagaland is a part of Free Nagas.
Secondly: The Naga Club which was formed on 7th January 1918, submitted a memorandum to the British Statutory Commission, known as Simon Commission, stating; without the knowledge of Naga people, Nagaland should not be handed over to other countries, but leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient time.
Thirdly: After World War II, the Naga Club leaders renamed the Naga Club as the Naga National Council (NNC) on 2nd February 1946. Since then the NNC firmly stood to safeguard the sovereignty of Nagaland in those days of changing world. And more memorandums had been submitted to the British Government again on behalf of the NNC. Out of them, two memorandums are quoted herewith: On 9th April 1946 to the British Cabinet Commission, Camp New Delhi; “The Naga future would not be bound by arbitrary decision of the British Government. And any recommendation without consultation would not be accepted”. On 29th March 1947, to the British Prime Minister Sir Clement Attlee; “The Nagas could not be thrown into the sea of Indian politics. We desire to be left alone in the event of the British withdrawal from India”. A copy of Memorandum of 1929 was also included with it, because he was a member of Simon Commission who visited Kohima, Nagaland in 1929.
In 1947: “Sub-Committee of the constituent Assembly of the Government of India” under the chairmanship of Shri Gopinath Bordoloi visited Kohima, Nagaland. Naga political affairs discussed with the NNC for three days, from May 19-21. The Sub-Committee offered an autonomous state to the Nagas but the Nagas rejected it, saying; the Nagas are an independent nation and will remain independent an in ancient time. Also, the Nagas did not involve in the Panglong agreement which was signed for the Union of Burma on 12th February 1947.
Fourthly: The Naga national leaders had well understood with India and Burma national leaders on the Naga national stand and declared their age-old independence to the outside world on 14th August 1947 before India and Burma became independent. On the same day, the declaration was cabled to the UN and Government Great Britain, also sent it to the Indian Government as well. The declaration of independence was reaffirmed by 99.99% of Naga people when the NNC conducted Naga voluntary Plebiscite on May 16, 1951. Also, with this Plebiscite, the Naga people had given their immutable mandate to the NNC to safeguard and speak for the future of Nagaland.
But after the assassination of Indian national Father Mahatma Gandhi and Gen. Aung San, Father of Burma nation, the successors of them, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru Prime Minister of India and U Nu Prime Minister of Burma divided the Naga nation without the knowledge of Naga people in 1953. Hence, they sent their armed forces to independent Nagaland in 1954 in an attempt to invade Nagaland. The war started with the Nagas from then on as the Nagas resisted them in defense of their country.
The war with India and Burma is, therefore, a case of aggression, but not a case of secession or demanding autonomous state from them. If they regard and respect the will of Naga people, the Nagas would not have to fight a war with them. After the problem was created with the Nagas, the GoI is now attempting to internalize the aggression case.
Firstly: India and Burma claim that they have inherited Nagaland from the British Colonial rule. This is totally a false claim. Because the British Government cannot hand Nagaland over to India and Burma without the consent and knowledge of Naga people, and neither did disregard the memorandums submitted to her before India and Burma were granted independence, as mentioned above. In addition, in the Atlantic Charter in Clause (2), it was written; “No territory should be transferred to another country without consent of the concerned people. (3) The will of the people, the sovereignty right and self-determination should be respected”. The Charter was solemnly signed by American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Prime Minister of British Sir Winston S. Churchill. In breach of this Charter, the British Government has no right to hand Nagaland over to India and Burma.
Secondly; The GoI is trying to internalize the Indo-Naga conflict by offering an autonomy state to the Nagas. In 1957, some educated Nagas were made to form a Naga People’s Convention (NPC), and with this NPC, the GoI signed the 16-point agreement on June 27, 1960, and established a Puppet Indian State in Nagaland on December 1, 1963. This was done in an attempt to internalize the aggression case in order to cover up her naked aggression on Nagaland and horrendous atrocities committed by her armed forces on Naga civilians.
The Statehood under the Indian Union was outrageously rejected by the NNC and continued to defend the sovereignty of Nagaland. At that time, in June 12, 1960, Dr. A.Z. Phizo, Naga national leader landed in London. The Naga Army thus procured arms ammunition from abroad and vigorously defended the sovereignty of Nagaland.
The Prime Minister of India Nehru, therefore, realized that the State offered to the Nagas was not the answer of the conflict, and thus he relented to sign a ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) on May 25, 1964. The GoI, however, proposed to use ‘Naga Rebel’ in the document. To which the FGN strongly rejected. It was negotiated taking three months and when the GoI accepted the FGN, the agreement came into effect on 6th September 1964. Hence, peace talks were held between the Prime Ministerial levels as two nations theory. But the GoI unilaterally abrogated the agreement on 31st August 1972, and re-escalated heavy military scorch-earth operation in Nagaland once again to give pressure on the Nagas to have accepted the Constitution of India at gunpoint. To fulfil the objective, Nagaland was heavily rounded up by the India Army in 1975.
The outcome of the scorch-earth operation was the signing of the Shillong Accord. As preplanned to have the Nagas surrender politically, the Nagas leaders were made to sign the Accord on 11th November 1975 to accept the constitution of India under duress. But the agreement becomes an invalid document in itself. Because the GoI doesn’t want to recognize the NNC and FGN and therefore, made the Naga leaders signed the accord on behalf of the underground representatives. Thus, the name of NNC/FGN, Naga, and Nagaland were omitted from the document, and neither did mention the rank and designation of the signatories. As the accord faced instant death due to its invalidity and neither ratify by both the Governments (GoI & FGN), the GoI never insisted the Nagas to hold talks based on the Shillong Accord. The NNC/FGN firmly stood to defend the sovereignty of Nagaland after the Shillong Accord.
The GoI thus played to internalize the conflict once again. In those days (1977-1979), the Naga national workers those who were in Eastern Nagaland (under Burma Military occupation) have two divisions (within the NNC/FGN), those who supported the NNC and Phizo’s leadership (democracy), the author was with them, and another was, who supported Muivah’s leadership and his socialism. The GoI Knowing Thuingaleng Muivah’s lust for power (the then General Secretary of NNC) backed in his design to overthrow the existing Naga national institution NNC and Phizo’s leadership. As the outcome, Th. Muivah and Isak Chishi Swu (the then Finance Minister of FGN) defected from the NNC/FGN and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on January 31, 1980. Before they formed NSCN, they eliminated all of NNC/FGN top leaders and top Naga Army officers in Eastern Nagaland in the last part of 1979 because they opposed Muivah’s socialism. (I was in the Indian Jail since August 1979 and escaped from the killings). After they were killed, false charged were given on their death bodies, that they supported Shillong Accord and killed, because they (Muiva-Isak) feared that if the truth is revealed they will be condemned by the people as the murders. But before they were shot death, their voice remained as a witness that they rejected Muivah’s socialism and faced the killing. They had no problem with Muivah regarding on Shillong Accord. Since the formation of NSCN, the NSCN systematically fought against the NNC and FGN. More than four thousand innocent Nagas were killed for going against NSCN leadership.
After the formation of NSCN, Muivah and Isak completely deviated from the Naga national stand as a sovereign and independent nation and reversed their stand to demand an autonomous state from India following the proposal of Suisa. Yet, in April 1988, when Eno Khaplang rejected Suisa’s proposal, the NSCN split into two factions known as NSCN-IM (Isak-Muivah) and NSCN-K (Khaplang). More killings among the Nagas had taken place after the NSCN split into two factions.
After the so-called ceasefire agreement signed between the GoI and NSCN-IM in August 1997, the GoI helps to build the NSCN-IM as a strong-armed group among the Nagas. While such a strong-armed group (NSCN-IM) is demanding an autonomous state or shared sovereignty from India, it makes more effective for India to make the Indo-Naga conflict appears as if an internal affair of India to the outside world. The GoI also provides Z+ full proof security to NSCN-IM top leaders and allowed them to stay safely in New Delhi.
The NSCN-IM is not, therefore, defending the sovereignty of Nagaland and neither hold talks with India based on the sovereignty of Nagaland. But demanding shared sovereignty from India which only helps India to make the Indo-Naga conflict appears as an internal affair of India. As IM group is demanding autonomous state, its political terminology was also changed from Naga national issue to a political issue.
However, the NSCN was formed more than 30 years after the NNC had founded the independent Naga nation, and therefore, it has no mandate and right to solve the Indo-Naga conflict. Before the NSCN was born, India granted an autonomy state (371A) to the NPC in 1960, but it wasn’t a solution to the Indo-conflict, so also even if the GoI grants another autonomous state to NSCN-IM group following its demand, it won’t be a solution to Indo-Naga conflict either. For the Nagas, the Plebiscite of 1951 was a final solution and pledge for their future. No alien nation’s decision and solution is needed for the Nagas, but to recognize the sovereignty of Nagaland. Therefore, till the sovereignty of Nagaland is recognized by the world, the Nagas will continue to march ahead in one accord under the banner of Naga National Council.
*W. Shapwon, Joint Secretary, NNC