Nagalim: Why it’s not gonna be in Indian school books soon

Why doesn’t Nagaland usually feature in Indian school History books or anywhere else?

The problem is, whose narrative does one follow: the Indian Army version, the Indian Government version, or the real Naga perspective?

Are Nagas are to be portrayed as head-hunting, savage tribes that were subjugated by the great Nehruvian Military Operation, which went where even the British feared to tread? Or do we tell kids that the Naga Hills weren’t really a part of British India, and basically Nehru, the great statesman used naked agression against the Naga people and ‘brought them into the Indian fold’?

Do we tell school kids the facts, like this one? The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was actually created so that the Indian Army could totally stamp out resistance in what Nagas then regarded as the Naga War of Independence.

The idea of a separate Naga homeland existed before India’s Independence.

The Naga Nationalist Council (NNC) led by A Z Phizo, an Angami Naga from the Khonoma village  had then appealed to the Indian National Congress not to include their lands in the formation of the Indian Union. When their demand was rejected, the Nagas were the first to revolt against Delhi.

The  NNC declared independence of ‘Nagaland’ on August 14, 1947. And Nagaland wasn’t the only northeastern territory which declared sovereignty. but that’s for another day.

Prime Minister Nehru sent  the Indian army was  to the Naga Hills to crush the  ‘insurgency’.  The Indian government viewed the Nagas as some wild savages who could be crushed easily.  Thus began the armed conflict, which ultimately cost over 10,000 lives.

 Phizo went ahead and created an underground government called the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) in March 1956.

As the situation turned serious, the Parliament enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, to empower the army to deal with such armed rebellion.

 In a bid to garner international support, Phizo escaped to the then East Pakistan in December 1956. Later, he reached London in 1960 and stayed there still his death in 1990.

So, we can see that the ‘insurrection’ in the erstwhile Naga Hills district of Assam, which later became the state of Nagaland in 1963, is the oldest in the Indian sub-continent and goes back all the way to 1947.

Along with the massive army crackdown, the New Delhi also began its negotiation with the representatives of various Naga tribes, a sort of carrot-and-stick policy with a generous splash of divide- and- confound, then rule. (A lesson that Indian Politicians learnt well from their British Masters and faithfully follow to this day).

This led to the signing of a 16-point agreement in 1960 between the Centre and the leaders of Naga People’s Convention (NPC) whereby formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged state within India was agreed. However, when this State was carved out, it left out several Naga dominated villages in the neighbouring states, and thus, contributed to a stickier mess.

In 1972, the New Delhi banned the NNC and FGN. A massive counter-insurgency operation was then launched by army and para-military forces compelling the ‘moderate’ rebels to sit on the negotiating table.

The infamous Shillong Accord was signed on November 11, 1975 between the Centre and a section of the NNC and FGN where the rebels ‘accepted’ the Indian constitution. The hardliners rejected the Shillong Accord and the NSCN evolved.

In 1997 the New Delhi began talks with Naga nationalists and made conscious attempts to bring them to the negotiating table. But, because the geography of Nagaland in itself a bone of contention, the resultant expansion of the Naga insurgency – Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam – has made things trickier for Delhi.

 The hardliners in NNC, though, rejected the Shillong Accord and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980.

NSCN revived the insurgency and was led by Isak Chishi Swu, a Sema Naga, Thuingaleng Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur and S S Khaplang, a Hemi Naga from Myanmar.

 Tribal affinity is important for Nagas and divisions on tribal lines are so deep rooted that the NSCN suffered a vertical split in 1988 with Isak and Muivah on one side and Khaplang on the other. Over 100 Naga rebels died fighting in 1988 during the split inside the jungles of Upper Burma.

However, both the groups still work for “Nagalim” or ” Greater Nagaland”, which comprises all the contiguous Naga inhabited areas of the North-East. The Isak-Muivah faction has called themselves as National Socialist Council of Nagalim.

Popularly known as NSCN (IM), this faction slowly became the most powerful Naga rebel group.

The Centre succeeded in signing a ceasefire agreement with the NSCN (IM) in August 1997 and began peace talks.

The Khaplang faction retained its original nomenclature, National Socialist Council of Nagaland, but is now known as NSCN (K).

In April 2001 it also signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre. Later, a new outfit called NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) has also emerged as another force.

Fratricidal killings among Naga nationalists is unabated, and this in turn has disillusioned many of the people.

Even so, in the years since 1997, peace has returned to Nagaland and the people are looking for other, non-violent ways to address their many issues . One of the most basic issues is the way the rest of India looks at  Naga People and Naga Culture, which has practically no affinity with the mainstream and in an India dominated with ‘cow-belt’ culture.

There is, of course widespread opposition  from neighbouring states to the NSCN (IM)’s demand for a ‘Greater Nagaland’.

New Delhi is also currently finding it tough to frame an agreeable formula to address the Naga problem because of divergent positions  among Naga rebel factions. And that’s a major headache! Nagas are a fiercely independent people, and they have very strong opinions. Sitting around a negotiating table for very long isn’t one of their strong points. While New Delhi has to be cautious, the Naga groups only see red tape and waffling!

The ordinary Naga doesn’t wilfuly opt for sedition or revolt. One really wants to live a life of dignty, respect, and equal opportunity, without prejudice, and within the broader aspect of an evolving Naga culture without intereference from the forcesof  Sanskritization and saffronisation.

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Posted by on June 2, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,Editorial,Nagaland. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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