The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) which was proscribed on November 16, 2000, in a press communiqué through its Publicity Secretary, Saiñkupar Nongtrawn on May 10, 2018 once again expressed the desire to enter political dialogue with the Government of India (GOI) as well as the Government of Meghalaya (GOM) as they reposed their self-belief that the respective government will seek a peaceful solution, leaving aside all bitterness. It has also called for the proposed Peace Talks to address the roots of the armed conflict and not to force the surrender of the HNLC, and once that issue is addressed, much of the reason to fight against the government would disappear.
The communiqué is also acknowledgement of the initiatives made by State Home Minister, James Kongkal Sangma, who stated that Meghalaya has long suffered due to militancy. He urged the society to resolve to start a new chapter of peace and prosperity in the state. He also stressed on the need to strengthen police force in Meghalaya to deal with crimes against women and children.
Reacting to the statements, the Council, while appreciating the Chief Ministership of Conrad Kongkal Sangma of taking the Regional Parties along in order to form a stable government in Meghalaya, also rest their hope that the present Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) government shall take up the responsibilities upon their shoulders to work for a prospering Meghalaya.
HNLC also subscribes to the ideology of the government that violence alone is not the solution. It added that in the year 2004 when the council had decided to give up arms and pursue peace talks with the Government, making their stand clear that they shall not surrender unlike other cadres in the past. The communiqué pointed out that surrender is not an option anymore.
Going through the history of insurgency, many Civil society groups in the Northeast have played key roles in the conflict management and resolution process. Both the Young Mizo Association (YMA) and the Church played significant roles in the finalisation of the Mizo Peace Accord 1986. In Nagaland, the Naga Hoho, the Church, the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) have been instrumental in the 1997 ceasefire between the NSCN-IM and New Delhi.
This is off course not the first time HNLC extended the Olive-branch for peace in Hynñiewtrep, they have done so to all the New Government of the time. In their earlier attempt to express the desire for talks, HNLC appreciated the earlier move by the Government of Meghalaya in appointing two interlocutors for initiating peace talks. Saiñkupar Nongtraw, through a media communiqué that time has also informed that the delay for Peace talk is mainly due to the lackadaisical attitude of the government. Any further kind of political manipulation on any front shall back fire, as the council are serious for a political dialogue.
As mentioned in this column earlier, regarding the talk between the central government and the outfits in Nagaland, Meghalaya too should make a similar move, knowing it is mandatory for every successive government to keep the door open for negotiations with the militant outfits. In most cases, the ceasefire agreements are arrived at due to compulsions of either one of the parties involved, hence, the accord usually does not reach a desirable conclusion mainly due to lack of infrastructure and fund to keep the parley arrived at. In yet another desperate attempt, the Nagaland government is ready to play any role in bringing Myanmar-based Naga insurgent group NSCN-K to re-enter a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government.
Be it Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur or Chhattisgarh government, many other states are being pressurized to curb militant activities in their respective state, but either due to lack of funds or political will any ceasefire agreement turns out to be a liability for the respective state government, while the surrender outfits expect the royal treatment and guarantees of jobs and the sustainability of their future. In the course of respecting the ceasefire agreement, many of the general masses are being deprived of various schemes and Fundamental Rights of Livelihood.
Earlier, central government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah on August 3, 2015 signed a historic accord that promises to bring peace to a state ravaged by violence for over six decades, as various stakeholders in the process cautiously welcomed the move.
NSCN was formed on 31 January 1980 by Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S.S. Khaplang opposing the Shillong Accord signed by the then Naga National Council (NNC) with the Government of India. The name of the Government is called, “The People Republic of Nagaland (Nagalim)”. Later, a disagreement surfaced within the outfit leaders over the issue of commencing dialogue with the Indian Government. On 30 April 1988, the NSCN split into two factions; the NSCN-K led by S S Khaplang, and the NSCN-IM, led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. The split was accompanied by a spate of violence and clashes between the factions.
The objective of the NSCN was to establish a Sovereign State by unifying all the Naga-inhabited areas in the North East of India and Northern Burma which the organisation and the people of the area proposed as Nagalim. Unification of all Naga tribes under one administration and ‘liberating’ Nagalim from India is listed as one of the supposed main objectives of the organisation. Its manifesto is based on the principle of Socialism for economic development and a Baptist Christian religious outlook. In some of their documents the NSCN has called for recognising only the Baptist religion in Nagalim.
Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, the founding fathers of NSCN-IM, are Chairman and General Secretary of NSCN-IM respectively and SS Khaplang is the Chairman of the NSCN-K.
On the political front, the NSCN-IM has divided its area of influence into 11 regions based on sub-tribe considerations and administrative convenience. In many areas, it runs a parallel government. There are four major ‘Ministries’ – Defence, Home, Finance and Foreign Affairs. Moreover, there are five other Ministries including Education, Information and Publicity, Forests and Minerals, Law and Justice and Religious Affairs. The most prominent among the Ministries is the ‘Home ministry’, which is considered as a replacement of the Indian State government machinery. The heads of 11 administrative regions report to the ‘Home Minister’ (Kilo Kilonser). The devolution of administrative arms of the organisation goes down to the town and village levels in the NSCN-IM’s areas of influence.
The outfit has also established a government-in-exile called the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN) which, interacts with formal and non-formal world bodies and media. The GPRN sends emissaries abroad to garner support and raise funds for the Naga cause.
Following the signing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the accord was an inspiration in “our troubled world” and noted that the Naga problem was a legacy of the British which took a long time to be resolved as “we did not understand each other”. Speaking at the signing of the “historic” accord, Modi said the event not only marked the “end of a problem, but the beginning of a new future”.
Now NSCN-K expressing its interest to re-enter a ceasefire agreement invariably means that Nagaland will soon witness sea-change of development and peace. The recently held General Assembly Election in Nagaland was almost stalled, with an aim to achieve Peace, then election. So also HNLC in Meghalaya, however, if any of the parties fail to maintain the truce, the situation might turn for the worse. Hence, it is expected that both the parties honour the treaty and initiate the Political dialogue at the earliest.