‘The history of the Nagas is unique, the solution to the Naga issue has also to be unique’
By: Bhadra Gogoi
DIMAPUR, Sept 24: NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah made it clear that no peace accord would be signed if the government of India does not agree to a separate Naga flag and constitution. “Sovereignty of the Naga people cannot be questioned as far as peace talks are concerned and the demand for Naga flag and constitution cannot be denied,” Muivah said in an interview with a regional news channel at Camp Hebron, the NSCN (I-M) headquarters near here, which was telecast on Tuesday evening. He added since the history of the Nagas is unique, the solution to the Naga issue has also to be unique.
When asked to explain on “shared sovereignty”, he said, “In the long course of talks both sides realised the necessity of sharing with each other because our history is clear. At the same time, the difficulties on their side are also clear to us. And so, the situation demands that in some way or other, we will have to take a step.”
He said that the Indian side officially acknowledged that the Naga history is unique. He added that the Nagas were never under the Indians either by consent of themselves or by military force used on them in those times. “And so, our history is unique. Therefore, solution must also be unique. When we say this, they say you are too tough. I am not tough. Nagas are not lost people. We have our history. They have come to realise that. Not only that since Nagas were not under Indians nor under anyone, our sovereignty also lies with us.”
The chief negotiator of the Naga peace talks claimed the Indian government frankly admitted that the Nagas have rights and their history is clear to them. At the same time, Muivah said the government of India has also lot of difficulties on their side, which would be a problem. “We cannot ignore the difficulties they face and so it becomes a matter of negotiation. How to find the best way to come closer to each other,” he added.
On whether separate Naga flag and constitution is part of the historic framework agreement and whether it would agree to sign the peace accord if the government of India does not agree for the same, Muivah said if the government of India does not agree to national flag and constitution, it would not sign any accord. “Because our history is unique and clear, our sovereignty can no longer be questioned. Our history can no longer be questioned,” he reiterated.
The Nagas have every right to have their own constitution and their own flag. “This is the covenant between God and the Naga people that Nagaland shall be for Christ. This is the commitment given to God by the Naga people,” he said. Muivah said thousands have laid down their lives and they cannot be dishonoured. He added since Naga history and sovereignty is clear, the constitution of Nagaland cannot be questioned any more.
“When we do not have identity of our own existence, there is a problem. When we say identity, we have to have our constitution and our own national flag. These are our identities,” he added. Muivah said in India, sovereignty lies with the Indians and in Nagaland sovereignty lies with the Naga people. “So, we have the right to have our own constitution and own national flag.”
Asked if the government of India does not agree to a separate flag and a constitution, the NSCN (I-M) leader also said it does not see logical conclusion to the Naga peace talks if the government of India does not agree to separate Naga flag and constitution. When asked whether the NSCN (I-M) would look for an alternative if the government of India does not agree to its demands, Muivah said the Indian side has the obligation to respect the Naga side. “There is nothing wrong on the part of the Nagas to go on instating for their own rights, constitution and flag, because it is not an imposition on India. By virtue of our history, they recognised and so that is the meeting point now. We will respect them, let them respect us equally. That is the only way to have peaceful coexistence,” he said.
Muivah also said the government of India should not seek solution as it would amount to betraying the Nagas. “When the unique history of Nagas is clear, then why should they seek solution with others,” he asked.