It has been a matter of considerable satisfaction to the Peace Mission, as to all other in Nagaland and in the rest of India, that since firing ceased on 6th September, 1964, for the first time in ten years people in Nagaland are experiencing what normalcy is. The Peace Mission feels that it is the normal obligation of everyone in Nagaland and more so, of the Peace Mission, in whom so much confidence and faith have been reposed, to see what this peace becomes everlasting in Nagaland. It is in pursuance of this that the Peace Mission is addressing this communication to both the parties.
But first it should be placed on record to the honour of both parties that have been in conflict that the attempt to find peace and agreement to a cease-fire was adventurous step which issued from their deep desire to find an honourable way to terminate such a bitter, wasteful and protracted conflict.
The marked difference in the atmosphere that prevails in Nagaland today as compared with that prevailing prior to the cessation of operation will probably be only realised by those who have lived or worked in Nagaland where there was fear as soon as darkness began and a sense of insecurity resulting from the ever present possibility of sudden violence. Today, the people are returning to their normal occupations. Families are being re-united, the biggest harvest for many years has been gathered and there is a feeling of hope in Nagaland which makes every delegate engaged in the peace talks only too conscious of the heavy burden of decision on those who have to take it, the life and happiness of so many being dependent on the decisions that are taken. In all this, it is fair to pay tribute not only to the Government of India for their humanity and imagination, but also to the leaders of the Baptist Church for whom this initiative was the result of much thought and powerful consideration of the good of both India and Nagaland.
The Nagaland Peace Talks, which started on 23rd of September, 1964, have now come to a stage where the NFG Delegation have placed their demands for consideration by the Government of India. This was in response to the statement of the leader of the Government of India delegation at Chedema on November 14th, wherein the Government of India also stated their position and understanding of the problem, as they saw it.
The Nagaland Federal Delegation have claimed that the Nagas had never been conquered by the Indian Army or ruled by an Indian Government, although their territory had been forcibly annexed by the British Army and the British Government about a century ago. Nevertheless, their right of self-determination, they claim, belonged to them separately as a people from the Sovereign Independent State of India, and they are now demanding recognition of this independence, which as they say, India herself demanded and heroically struggled for under the historic slogan of Swaraj.
The Government of India’s position on the other hand, is that Nagaland formed an integral part of India before 1947 and that with the Transfer of Power to India by the British Parliament, Nagaland became part of India in the same way as all other States in India. At the same time the Government of India claim that they have already accepted the need for granting the fullest autonomy to Nagaland by constituting the State of Nagaland. So as to ensure the fullest development of the Nagas and to guarantee their separate ethnic and cultural entity and to ensure their traditional right and their resources accordingly, the Nagas are not ruled by any alien power but are ruling themselves.
The Peace Mission notes that a section of the Naga people accepted the status of Statehood thus conferred upon Nagaland as being in their best interest. Another section did not consider that it satisfied the aims and objectives they had been fighting for. Thus, there are these two divergent positions of the Government of India and the NFG confronting each other.
Though the two positions appear to be far apart, the Peace Mission believes that, with goodwill and understanding on both sides, a solution acceptable to both are be found.
9. As earlier stated, the Peace Mission reiterates that it is under an inescapable moral obligation to ensure maintenance of peace and settlement of all outstanding problems through peaceful means. The Peace Mission believes that there is no human problem that cannot be solved by peaceful means. The Peace Mission further believes that the Governments concerned and the people concerned share and subscribe to this view.
While the Peace Mission fully agrees and endorses the principle that all subject peoples have the right to self-determination and that no group of people have the right to self-determination and that no group of people is competent to rule over another, it also has to invite the attention of the Nagaland Federal Government to certain historical processes that had taken place to give birth to the Union of India and to the emergence of the great concepts and ideals underlying the Union Constitution.
The British had concurred at several stages and in diverse manner, various parts of the Indian sub-continent, comprising different ethnic groups, political systems and religious beliefs. However, under the aegis of the Indian National Congress and since 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, these various different peoples, representing diverse linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious elements came together against foreign colonial rule and developed a consciousness of nationhood. Unfortunately, this common struggle against foreign imperialism, that had welded these diverse people in the Indian Sub-continent into one nation did not somehow have an appreciable impact on the Nagas. This was, no doubt, due to the policy of isolation and exclusion, so deftly practised by British rulers, who believed in creating pockets contrary to each other and hoping to rule in perpetuity by dividing the peoples. In any case, this great national movement of unification which freed India including Nagaland from the yoke of foreign rule did not bring within its embracing sweep the Naga population to the same extent as it did the other parts of the sub-continent. Thus, in 1947 when all the diverse people of India who had been brought under British rule, voluntarily agreed to form the Union of India and to share in the common endeavour to ensure that in great Union the ideals of Fraternity, Liberty, Justice and Equality, as enshrined in the Constitution are fully achieved, for the common benefit of all the same response and sense of participation was not notificeable in the Naga areas.
The Peace Mission, in the circumstances appreciates and understands the desire of the Nagas for self-determination and their urge to preserve their integrity. The Peace Mission also appreciates the courage and tenacity, displayed by the Naga people in their endeavour to achieve this goal. The objectives which they have placed before themselves in their memorandum ‘Naga Peace Declaration’ dated the 17th December, 1964, and addressed to the Peace Mission namely their desire to find peace, their resolve to maintain their integrity and to resist entanglement in war, are all extremely laudable and should commend themselves to all peace loving people. It is however to be noted that this Declaration, in itself does not resolve the political issue. Therefore, some appropriate meeting point has to be found, where the aims and ideals of the NFG can be achieved, at the same time, making it possible for the Government of India to accept these within the framework of the political settlement to be mutually agreed upon.
The Peace Mission in the pursuit of a settlement through peaceful means, to which the Government of India as well as the NFG equally subscribe, would like both the Government of India and the NFG to consider seriously whether such a meeting point could not be reached. On the other hand, the NFG could on their own volition decide to be a participant in the Union of India and mutually settle the terms and conditions for that purpose. On the other hand, the Government of India could consider to what extent the pattern and structure of the relationship between the Nagaland and the Government of India should be adopted and recast, so as to satisfy the political aspirations of all sections of Naga opinion and to make it possible for the ideals of peace as expressed in the Naga Peace Declaration to be substantially realized.
The Peace Mission would like, in all earnestness to impress, upon both sides that the approach, herein suggested, is not only the fairest but the only practical one in the given circumstances; and it fervently hopes that it will commend itself to the Government of India as well as to the Nagaland Federal Government.
The Peace Mission reiterates that the peace now obtaining the Nagaland should be made everlasting. With that object in view, the Peace Mission offered certain suggestions, whereupon both the parties had unequivocally affirmed and declared that they would renounce war and violence as a means for political settlement. This declaration of renunciation of war and use of armed force, it is earnestly emphasized, must not be deviated from by any means. The Peace Mission’s proposal following this bilateral declaration of renunciation of war, to deposit all underground arms in safe custody and to withdraw all Indian Security forces from law and order duties could not unfortunately, be implemented.
Never the less, the Peace Mission would earnestly desire that, in faithful pursuance of the Declaration of renunciation of use of armed forces, both parties take concrete steps to remove all frictions. There have been numerous complaints and counter-complaints from both. The Peace Mission would suggest that the NFG require all arms issued to its forces to be concentrated at one or several places, in their armories and under their custody so that there can be no basis for any future complaint of their forces parading with arms or extorting money or supplies under threat. They should also seriously ask themselves whether further recruiting and movement out of Nagaland towards Pakistan does not create an impression that these are only acts preparatory towards resumption of hostilities and if so, they should take remedial measure by putting a stop to such recruitment and movement. The Government of India should ensure that its security forces and the civil administration do continue to abide strictly with the terms of the agreement, both in spirit and letter.
The Peace Mission makes a fervent appeal for consideration of the suggestions, contained in this paper and for all action that is possible for the maintenance of peace.
JAI PRAKASH NARAYAN