"When you go home tell them of us and say we gave our today for your tomorrow"
The Birth of Cease-Fire Politics in Nagaland.
March 15, 2010
Following its independence,India has faced a series of guerrilla insurgencies in the hills along its Border with Burma and East Pakistan.None has proved so difficult as the ugly guerrilla war which has raged in the Naga Hills since 1953. The Political turmoil in Nagaland has gone all but unnoticed outside of India,in large measure because of a cease-fire agreement between the Indian government and the guerrillas which took effect on September 6,1964.For two years,the Indian representatives and the Naga guerrillas faced each other at the peace table,but the conflict was never resolved in a formal peace agreement.Y.D.Gundevia, the Indian negotiator at the peace talks,concluded regretfully in 1965 that the talks had led to “ a truce without a political settlement”.In the years since then,Nagaland has repeatedly faced the prospect of the resumption of full scale hostilities. Yet,despite important changes in the political situation, a delicate equilibrium has been maintained which has kept violent outbreaks at a fairly low level even though a political settlement seems to be as remote today as it appeared in 1965.
Politics in Nagaland cannot be understood as merely a contest between Indians and nagas,or between the Indian Government and some “misguided” Nagas. The cease-fire could hardly survived from 1964 to the present without any progress toward a political settlement if there were only two sides each dedicated to eliminate the other. Instead,the present situation maybe better understood as a very complex set of relations between a number of “parties” who have differing objectives,strategies and capabilities.As a result, a precarious equilibrium has been maintained over the past two years being violated systematically and continuously.
It is the purpose of this article to present a brief recent activities,tactics and objectives of the major participants in Naga politics. Untill and unless we know the history we would not have a solution and to understand who is who in Naga revolutionary group a brief survey taken from various source specially the Assam tribune,Naga chronicle,citizens voice, archive for the Naga people during those days ,invite Naga people to judge and correct the Naga history.
The leader of the Naga underground forces is Angami Zapu Phizo.His formal claim to the leadership of the guerrillas is derived from his position as the elected President of the Naga National Council which declared Naga independence from India and later became the parent body of the underground Naga Federal Government(NFG).For a number of years Phizo led his guerrilla forces in battle against Indian Army, but in June 1960 he arrived in London to enlist world opinion and solicit foreign assistance for his NFG guerrillas.In the intervening years,Phizo has tried to exercise direction and leadership of the guerrillas from his home in Bromley,near London.However ,since the insurrectionary Naga Federal Government has its own political and military leaders who continued to function in Nagaland,Phizo’ leadership of the underground has increasingly depended upon his ability to deliver foreign assistance in one form or another to the NFG.Over the years the charismatic appeal of Phizo’s name has lost some of its lusture, but he remains a key actor on the Naga scene by virtue of his capacity to enlist public sympathy and foreign aid for his cause.
The desire in Nagaland for a peaceful resolution of the conflict has frequently focussed on the role of Phizo.Through the years, Nagas of various political persuasions have come to London to discuss politics and possible terms for ending the war.Phizo’s tacit approval made possible the cease-fire agreement and the formation of the Peace Mission in 1964.However, once peace talks began, Phizo counselled the NFG negotiators against accepting as a tactic to ensure his return to Nagaland as the sole spokesman for Naga political objectives. A series of overtures were made by Phizo to pave the way for his participation in the negotiations with the Indian Government, but they were opposed by the Indian Government ,by Moderate Nagas in the state government as well as by some guerrillas leaders in the NFG.
Rebuffed in his bid to recover his preeminent position in Naga politics Phizo was put in the position of having to demonstrate to his supporters that following his leadership would lead to greater dividends than to follow alternate courses charted by his political rivals in Nagaland. Unwilling to capitulate on the issue of Naga independence, and fearful of the political costs of immediate resumption of full- scale military operations, Phizo decided to follow a strategy which he believed might rouse western powers to support his cause.Early in 1967 some NFG guerrilla units were instructed to send a selected contigent to China via the mountainous jungles of North Burma.Two groups of guerrillas totalling about 300 men reached China about April 1967,just as Phizo arrived in the U.S to plead to assistance on the argument that otherwise his guerrillas would be forced to rely upon communist support and arms.As far as is known, no U.S officials gave him sympathetic hearing, and he returned to London empty handed.The vague but optimistic accounts of his trip which he sent to the guerrillas in Nagaland gave assurance that support from the U.S and the U.N was only a matter of time.Over the next year ,groundless rumors circulated in Nagaland of promised covert support for the NFG by the Central Intelligence Agency if Nixon were to win the U.S presidential election. These rumors intensified after Phizo successfully arranged for a foreign journalist to be smuggled in and out of Nagaland by the NFG.
The failure of Phizo’s international power play left him more reliant than before upon Communist China and Pakistan,if only because he had promised much and therefore had to deliver.Furthermore,his uncompromising line on the peace talks and his flirtation with communist China triggered major defections from the NFG which had the effect of weakening the military and political power of those following his directions. Thus for a variety of reasons, Phizo was driven to adopt his alternate tactic of soliciting massive chinise and Pakistani military assistance to build up the NFG guerrilla forces for the eventual resumption of hostilities should the Indians not agree to naga independence and the transfer of all power to the NFG under his leadership.In the years since 1967 Phizo’s tactics have changed very little followed by various factions in Nagaland.