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Nagas’ No to Rebels’ Doings

POSTED ON 27 APRIL 2012

rani pathak das
senior Research associate, Centre for Development and Peace Studies

There is no end in sight of the protracted Naga problem, and fratricidal killing between Naga rebel groups that have been disrupting a peaceful public life appears to have become intolerable for the common Nagas. On April 2, 2012, in a hitherto unprecedented turn of events in Nagaland, thousands of peace-loving Naga youths voluntarily came out on the streets of Kohima, Nagaland’s capital, demanding the Government to take action against the militants.

The spurt of factional clashes and bloodshed has been on a higher side in Nagaland since the beginning of 2012. While in 2011, at least 45 persons were killed and three injured in 10 fratricidal clashes, within the first three months of 2012 (January-March), at least 9 fratricidal clashes had taken place where 10 persons were killed and 5 injured apart from one kidnapping. There are four factions of NSCN at present— the Isak-Muivah faction, the NSCN-K splinter headed by Khole Konyak, the NSCN-K headed by Khaplang, and NSCN-Unification. The NSCN came into being in 1980, after a split from the Naga National Council (NNC).

On March 21, youth organizations in Kohima had appealed to all the insurgent groups to shun violence. This was followed by a rally on April 2 which was organized by the Angami Youth Organization (AYO) and supported by several other Naga organizations. At 9.30 in the morning, thousands of Naga youths consisting of representatives of youth organizations from different locations gathered at the Kohima local ground and took out a silent procession on foot by carrying placards that read : ‘Stop bloodshed’, ‘Kohima is not a battle field’, ‘We condemn factional killing’, ‘Let civic sense prevail in our society’, ‘Abide by ceasefire Regulations’, ‘You are not Cowboys nor is Kohima the Wild West’, ‘Hospital is not a place to take revenge’.

The extreme disgust with the militants’ rein of terror is strongly reflected in the representative voice of Khrielievi Chüsi, the president of AYO, when he addressed the youths: “Time has come for us to say enough is enough, no more bloodshed”. The youth representatives submitted a three-point demand to the state Home Minister Imkong L. Imchen at the secretariat. These voices of protest from inside the State could be premonition of a bigger battle against the rebel-tuned-terrorists from Nagaland who are continuing with their anti-social and inhuman activities in the guise of “Naga Nationalism”.

On December 29, 2011, three civilians including a minor were injured in the shooting at Upper Agri Colony; on February 17, one civilian was injured in a shootout near Secretariat and on March 17, 2012, another civilian was injured at the shooting at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima. It is true that public safety is at stake in Nagaland and the young protesters are right in urging all factions to strictly adhere to the laid down cease-fire ground rules. Ironically, the State Home Minister Imchen agreed that there were loopholes in the cease-fire ground rules where the state police did not have even the right to fire back in self-defence! The irony is enhanced when the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner Nagaland, Banuo Z Jamir admitted that the state machinery was going through a stage where it did not know how to deal with the situation.

The militants, however, seems to have given a deaf ear to this appeal for peace and on April 7, 2012 one more civilian was shot dead by one FGN cadre. The AYO’s demand that FGN should “punish the culprit in a befitting manner” and warning to launch “a non co-operation movement” against NNC/FGN until the culprit is punished, must be taken seriously by the militants. The protesting youth organizations also appealed to business community, contractors and suppliers, transporters, and all peace loving citizens of Kohima not to entertain FGN until FGN took action against “its rogue cadre”. They even questioned government’s sincerity in “safeguarding” the public from “armed elements”.

The NSCN-IM and the Government of India signed a ceasefire agreement in 1997 and entered into a peace process. Fifteen years down the lane, and after more than seventy rounds of talks across the world between the NSCN-IM and the Government of India, a ‘solution’ remains elusive. Though on April 30, 2001, the NSCN-K entered into a truce with New Delhi, no formal talks have taken place as yet.

A possible solution to the Naga insurgency problem has still remained uncertain. With more factions coming to fore, thus making way to more clashes, the united Naga rebels’ voice is nowhere to be heard. And in the name of an ideology called “Naga Nationalism”, anti-social elements are playing havoc across the State. Now, the government should ensure that all armed underground cadres stay in their designated camps, and no anti-social element facing criminal cases should be granted bail until the case was tried by the court of law. Also, it is high time for the rebels to realize the necessity of safety and well being of the people, for whom, they say, they are fighting. It is clear that the common Nagas have decided not to remain a mute spectator to the doings of the rebel groups, and this is no ordinary development.