Nagaland Peace Accord & Narendra Modi


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In a remarkable move the officials of government of India signed a peace agreement with a  major Naga tribal group, waging a guerrilla war with the central government for over past six decades. The agreement besides restoring peace in the region also attempts to build institutions bestowing greater autonomy to Naga tribes. The peace pact reached between the government of India and the largest militant faction of the North East, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), NSCN (IM) can significantly bring down the insurgent insurrection. While the finer details of the accord and the mechanisms of its execution are still under wraps the move is welcomed by all political parties. Modi recalling it as a major triumph under the flag of Act East Policy reiterated that restoring peace, economic and social progression of North East has been his utmost priority.

To appreciate the crux of the issue, it is worth recapitulating the genesis and epic-proportions of the Naga insurgency tale. The undivided Goalpara district or the Assam province which was under the control of the Ahom rulers of Burma became part of the Bengal Subah of the Mughal Empire after conflicts. Subsequently in 1765 it fell into the hands of East India Company along with Bengal and became part of the special administrative region of North-Eastern parts of Rangpur. After a series of Anglo- Burmese wars and enforcement of Doctrine of Lapse the entire region of Assam was annexed to British India by 1833 (1). British later on captured several Naga territories and consolidated them under the Naga Hills district in Assam. Actually each Naga village was sovereign and ruled by tribal heads and Naga tribes had no common identity. British guilefully permitted the penetration of Christian Missionaries into the region and inadvertently religion fostered unity between Naga tribes.

Nagas were recruited by British during World War I as labour corps and sent to France. But they were alienated from rest of the British Indian troops and this alienation promoted unity between them. Upon returning to their homeland Nagas with few British officials formed the Naga Club in 1918.  Under the government act of 1919 British declared Naga Hill district as backward tract and treated it as separate entity. In 1928 Naga club submitted a memorandum to Simon Commission requesting that Nagas be allowed to have right to self-determination after their departure from India. In 1930’s the Naga tribes under the leader of Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu rebelled against British. As per Government Act of India 1935, the Naga Hill district was declared as an Excluded area administered by Governor of Assam.

In 1945 C. R. Pawsney formed a Naga Hills District Tribal Race which evolved into Nagaland National Council (NNC) under the leadership of Angami Zapi Phizo. Phizo considered as Father of Nagas led an armed secessionist revolution and campaigned for a sovereign Naga nation. On August 14th 1947, a day before India’s independence Phizo declared the independence of Nagaland. Anticipating a stiff opposition from the insurgent group of Nagas prior to declaration of independence in June, 1947 the governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hyderi initiated peace talks. He signed a 9-point agreement with moderate members of NNC. The Hyderi accord agreed to grant judicial, executive and legislative powers and autonomy in land related matters. But the constituent assembly failed to ratify the accord that envisioned Naga demand for a sovereign state with India as a Guardian power for 10 years.  Instead they were granted district autonomy within Indian constitution.

In 1948 an agreement was reached between NCN and Government of India recognising Naga people right to self-determination (3). But NNC under the leadership of Phizo intensified their demand to establish a sovereign Naga state. He conducted a referendum in 1951 wherein nearly 99% voted for an independent Nagaland. Phizo has called for boycott of general elections in 1952 and launched violent secessionist movement. He also met Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1951 and 1952 with a petition for sovereign status and separate electorate for Nagas but was refused. He was later in Burma arrested for illegal entry. Phizo then created an underground government, Naga Federal Government (NFG) and Naga Federal Army (NFA) on March 22nd 1956 (4). To quell the raising insurgency, government inducted Armed Forces and enforced Armed Forced (Special Powers) Act in 1958. Phizo escaped to East Pakistan in 1956 and lived in exile till death in London.

In the meanwhile government of India placed Naga Hills District under the tribal districts “Part A” category as per the sixth schedule of constitution, as an autonomous district governed by Governor of Assam with a limited representation in Assam state legislative assembly and Indian Parliament. This arrangement was refused by the Naga leaders. Hence along Tuensang division it was placed in “Part B” category as an area in the North East Frontier Agency under the administrative authority of Ministry of External Affairs in 1957. Following negotiations with secessionists the region was later converted into a full-fledged state of Nagaland in 1963, December 1st.

Government constituted a peace mission consisting of Jaya Prakash Narain, Assam chief minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Rev Michael Scott that signed an Agreement for Suspension of Operation (AGSOP) with insurgent groups in April, 1964. But relentless violations by NNC and NFG continued to rock the state in spite of the six rounds of peace negotiations. The peace mission was abandoned in 1967. In 1972 government launched a massive counter-insurgency operation and banned the NNC and NFG under the unlawful associations act. Situation was brought under control by 1975 and a section of the NNC and NFG on November 11th 1975 signed the famous Shillong Accord. Consequently the Naga rebels accepted the supremacy of Indian constitution, renounced arms and demand for secession of Nagaland from India (5).

But peace still eluded this region as nearly 150 rebels who were away in China and Burma for training during the signing of agreement refused to accept the final settlement with Indian government. Among them the trio of Isak Chisi Swu, Thuingaleng Muviah and S, Khaplang blatantly rejected the agreement and in the next five years parted from ways with NNC and created National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980. This group quickly emerged as a strong rebel contingent and NNC-NFG became less active. But by 1988 the rebellion within the group resulted in splintering of the unit into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) and the names of factions denote the rebel leaders heading them. In 1990 after death of Phizo, NNC split into NNC (A) led by Phizo’s daughter Adino and NNC (K) headed by Vice-president Khodao Yanthan. NNC (K) later merged with NSCN (IM) (6). Each of the splinter groups represents different tribes. Konyaks group is led by S. Khaplang of NSCN (K), a Hemie Naga from Myanmar. Tangkhuls led by Isak, a Sema from Nagaland and Muivah a Tangkhul from Ukhrul district of Manipur.

Irrespective of the tribes they represent, the ultimate aspiration of the Naga leaders has been to merge the contiguous areas of the Naga territories and create a greater Nagaland or Nagalim, four times the size of Nagaland. The putative Naga territory encompasses districts in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Hence each of these states is wily of such a demand. This desire for Nagalim is so entrenched that even the elected representatives of the Nagaland assembly still continue to pass the resolution on the need for carving out Nagalim. India signed cease-fire agreements with NSCN (IM) in 1997 and with NSCN (K) in 2001. While NSCN (IM) has climbed down on their demand for a sovereign state for Nagas, they are particular about the creation of Nagalim. During the ceasefire period violent conflicts erupted between these two rival factions of NSCN.  Government of India held as many as 80 negotiations through interlocutors and monitored by the ceasefire commission with these factions. It emerged that NSCN (IM) has been sincere in its commitment.

NSCN (K) violated ceasefire agreement in March 2015, drawing support from ULFA, Bodos and Manipur militants it surfaced as United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia. It executed an attack on Indian Army which resulted in the death of 18 jawans in Manipur on June 4th 2015. The present accord is termed historic as government clinched an agreement with the largest Naga groups which in turn can pave way for bringing other minor Naga factions on board. Prime Minister Modi is believed to have effectively utilised the good will created by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who wooed Nagas with his immaculate gestures and open confessions. He was the only Prime Minister fondly remembered by people of Nagaland for appreciating and recognising their unique history and frankly admitting the failures of Indian government that left trails of blood in the state (7).

According the interlocutor RN Ravi, the ground work for the accord has been done under the UPA government but the indecisive leadership frittered away the opportunity for a major breakthrough in 2012. Perhaps, the recent ceasefire violations by NSCN (K) propelled central leadership into swift action and spurred them to clinch an agreement with its rival faction NSCN (IM). But for the collaborative action of Ajit Doval, interlocutor RN Ravi, Nagaland governor PB Acharya and the Naga People’s front leader TR Zeliang this mission couldn’t have been achieved.

While the details of the initial framework agreement are sketchy, it is believed that since government of India will not compromise on the sovereignty and integrity of the country, redrawing of state boundaries may be ruled out. But the accord might have entailed upon greater autonomy to the Naga dominated regions in the various states. While article 371 (A)   already accords special status to Nagaland, government might consider strengthening it further (8).

The accord signed by Modi is truly iconic as it comes after a long duration of unrelenting parley of peace negotiations with promise of restoring the peace in the region marred with violence. The pact epitomizes the exemplary statesmanship of Modi and his steadfast commitment to make North East region more inclusive. The true test for the government lies in carefully dealing with different state governments of the region, in decommissioning arms of rebels and their absorption into mainstream and chalking out a robust long-term development projects for the North East.

[ For this article I am indebted to Mr. Ramaharitha Pusarla . He published the article on August 06, 2015 under the title of “Historic Naga Accord” in the website MyIndMakers. I am posting verbatim that very article and I express my deep gratitude and indebtedness to Mr. Pusarla. ]

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Janata Party Merges With BJP , An Era Ends


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GURGAON – NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION – INDIA           AUGUST 23 , 2013           10.45 P.M.

There was an innocuous news in the national newspapers last week . Subramanian Swamy merged his Janata Party with the Bharatiya Janata Party . There were some sarcastic remarks about the defunct party merging with BJP . Some chose to ignore the news . And some kept silence after initial taunt . But for me it opened floodgate of memories of some bygone era . Some cherished memories of my young days came to knock at my  door . I became nostalgic and started remembering those eventful days in the history of our nation .

Raj Narain, a socialist leader, had filed a legal writ alleging electoral malpractice against Indira Gandhi in 1971. On 12 June 1975, Allahabad High Court found her guilty of using corrupt electoral practices in her 1971 election victory over Narain in the Rae Bareli constituency. She was barred from contesting any election for the next six years. Economic problems, corruption and the conviction of Gandhi led to widespread protests against the Congress ( I ) government, which responded by imposing a State of Emergency in the country . The rationale was that of preserving national security.

However, the government introduced press censorship, postponed elections and banned strikes and rallies. Opposition leaders such as Jayaprakash Narayan, Jivatram Kripalani and Morarji Desai were imprisoned, along with thousands of other political activists.

Indira Gandhi is elected as the first female P...

Indira Gandhi is elected as the first female Prime Minister of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the State of Emergency was lifted and new elections called in 1977, opposition political parties such as the Congress (O), Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal as well as defectors from the Congress ( I ) , known as Congress For Democracy ( CFD ) joined to form the Janata party, which won a sweeping majority in the Indian Parliament. Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi at Rae Bareilly in those elections.

Constituent Parties of Janata Party

Congress (Urs) leaders like Devaraj Urs joined Janata Party in the later stage.

In the general election held after the end of the state of emergency in 1977, the Janata party defeated Congress ( I ) to form the first non-Congress government in the history of the Republic of India. I heard the news of formation of Janata Party , defeat of Indira Gandhi and the Congress on radio . I still remember , I didn’t sleep a wink , and kept on listening the news throughout the night . Even today I am unable to forget that feeling after listening that Invincible Indira Gandhi got defeated and the Congress will no longer going to rule us .

Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai in New Del...

Prime Minister Morarji Desai in New Delhi, signing the “New Delhi” declaration during a visit by US president Jimmy Carter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Janata Party formed the government with Morarji Desai as prime minister. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had become the leader of the Jana Sangh after Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s death in 1967, was appointed as the external affairs minister in the new government.

The new Janata-led government reversed many Emergency-era decrees and opened official investigations into Emergency-era abuses. Although several major foreign policy and economic reforms were attempted, continuous in-fighting and ideological differences made the Janata government unable to effectively address national problems. By mid-1979, Prime Minister Morarji Desai was forced to resign and his successor Chaudhary Charan Singh failed to sustain a parliamentary majority as alliance partners withdrew support. Popular disenchantment with the political in-fighting and ineffective government led to the resurgence of Gandhi and her new Congress (I) party, which won the general election called in 1980.

The Janata government did not last long, though. Morarji Desai resigned as prime minister, and the Janata party was consequently dissolved.

Bharatiya Janata Party (1980-)

In 1980, the leaders and workers of the former Bharatiya Jana Sangh, founded the Bharatiya Janata Party with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its first president .

Português: O primeiro-ministro da Índia Atal B...

Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Election Symbol of Bharatiya Janata Party

Election Symbol of Bharatiya Janata Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although the original Janata Party fragmented and eventually dissolved, modern political parties continue to invoke its legacy. Subramanian Swamy kept the name Janata Party , and was the National President of the party .

The irony of the situation or fate is that Bharatiya Jan Sangh members were forced to leave Janata Party on the pretext of dual membership . They chose to remain loyal to RSS ideology and left Janata Party and formed Bharatiya janata Party in 1980 . Quirk of the fate forced the same Janata Party to merge itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party . In August 2013, when the news came that the party was merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party , I just smiled .

Destiny plays strange games . Sometimes even bizarre games . BJP was formed after several swayamsevaks came out of Janata Party on the issue of dual membership and 33 years later , the parent body came and merged itself with the BJP .

Issue of Dual membership and the cacophony that followed , is finished forever . Socialists , who raised the issue , are extinct now . And last but not the least , Janata Party ceases to exist .

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Very soon I am going to tell the tale of this bizarre chapter of our history to the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  and  VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre .

[ To maintain the chronological order of the events of formation of Janata Party , I relied on Wikipedia and quoted from it . I express my gratitude . ]

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My Column ” Kal Aur Aaj ” in Bhojpuri City – [ 4 ]


 

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA         MARCH 29 , 2011             11.45 P. M.

I am reproducing here the latest article of my fortnighly Hindi column, which comes in ” Bhojpuri City “ . It is a Bhojpuri Film Trade magazine , which is being published from Mumbai.

This article is the 4th in the series and it is published in the Holi edition of the said magazine.

Cover of Bhojpuri City , March 2nd , 2011

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35th Anniversary of Emergency


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25 June 1975 Indira gandhi declared Emergency. Press banned, opposition leaders jailed..has the Congress atoned enough for the Emergency?

As  I quote the above tweet of Sagarika Ghose of CNN-IBN and as I write this blog today on the 35th anniversary of the infamous emergency, I vividly remember that particular morning in Deoria ( my native place in Uttar Pradesh ). I was sitting and waiting for the morning news paper. My younger brother Atul Chaturvedi came running with the paper in hand and showed it to me. That morning’s banner headline was : INDIRA GANDHI DECLARES EMERGENCY . I was shocked and we started discussing the implications of the promulgation of emergency. We discussed it at length. But frankly speaking, we could not anticipate the incidents, which were soon going to get unfolded in front of us. We could not gauge seriousness of  matter.

Let me go into the details of the events which preceded this declaration. Indira Gandhi got elected for Lok Sabha from her  pocket borough Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. Her main opponent Late Raj Narain challenged her election and filed a petition in Allahabad High Court. Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha heard the arguments of both sides and pronounced the judgement. He found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral misconduct and declared her election to the Lok Sabha invalid. There was a clamour for her resignation and opposition parties started mass movement. Instead of resigning gracefully, she clamped emergency to save her position and suspended all the legal and constitutional rights of the citizens of India. Lakhs of political workers of all the parties were jailed, basic human rights were suspended, constitution was amended and all political activities were prohibited and banned. Electronic media was non-existent then, but press was there and it was the only medium of information. censorship was clamped on it and we were debarred from getting all the news. Only government of the day used to decide which news was worthy of publishing and which was not. Dev Kant Barua, the then Congress president, had the audacity to declared that – INDIA IS INDIRA AND INDIRA IS INDIA. This was height of sycophancy, but it was the rule of the day.

BJPSupporter

As the nation’s voice was suppressed,there were no public protests against Emergency. Indira reacted to this by saying- “Not a dog barked!”

The above  tweet, which I have quoted, amply states the situation of the country. Indira Gandhi ruled the country with arrogance and iron hand and finally , under the chairmanship of Swarna Singh, former Foreign Minister, formed a committee to amend the Constitution of India. Swarna Singh, being a doormat as he was, obeyed his supremo and submitted his recommendations. Finally Constitution was amended without a murmur or protest. Height of the emergency was implicating indomitable George Fernandes in BARODA DYNAMITE CASE. Several false cases were filed against all the political leaders. I am giving below the link of the picture of hand-cuffed and chained George Fernandes :
Image that defines Emergency: http://j.mp/bhW05r George Fernandes chained & hand-cuffed! via web

Incidentally at the same time a former socialist and Bhoodan leader Jay Prakash Narayan was spearheading his movement called, TOTAL REVOLUTION. It was a movement for eradication of corruption . Indira Gandhi thought that it was a conspiracy to dethrone her . Autocrat as she was , she linked both the things and acted imperiously.
Those were the darkest days of the nation. There were no light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto announced elections and held it. Indira gandhi felt insulted and she too announced elections in India. She was sure that since there was no credible, visible opposition, she will win the elections hands down. She fought the elections and lost badly. She even lost her own seat. Janata Party won the elections and the first ever non-Congress government was formed at the centre. People of India gave their verdict. It was for democracy.

sagarikaghose

35 years after the Emergency, we need to value our democracy and its freedoms, not abuse them or restrict them.
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