File image of leaders of Naga National Political Groups during the formation of their working committee in December, 2016.

The working committee of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) is of the view that Nagaland Governor R N Ravi, who is also the Centre’s interlocutor for the Indo-Naga political dialogue, has exhibited serious concern and commitment with practical touch to the issue.

The present interlocutor’s commitment, depth and understanding of the Naga issue are second to none, the media cell of the committee said in a statement.

“To suggest a new interlocutor at this time is to rewind the Indo-Naga issue back to zero.

“A return to same old situation employing the same old trick: burn Nagaland, ransack it, strangulate and heap more misery and suffering on the Naga public in the name of political issue,” the statement said.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 29, Naga Hoho president H K Zhimomi and general secretary K Elu Ndang said the Nagas have observed that Ravi is functioning in an autocratic manner without any regard and respect for what has been achieved so far.

“We feel that peaceful settlement cannot be achieved with an interlocutor without empathy and without understanding our people, our history and our aspiration,” the letter said.

The Hoho demanded that the Nagas need a leader like Mahatma Gandhi, who gave respect and honour to ‘our political rights’, to translate the Indo-Naga negotiation into an honorable solution that will safeguard and protect the interest of one another.

It accused Ravi of breaking the hard-earned trust and faith of the people and rendering the 23 years of negotiation meaningless by smearing the Naga history and also the political groups with whom the government of India is engaged in a negotiation.

However, the working committee of the NNPGs maintained that the Indo-Naga conflict has taken a pragmatic, proactive turn towards finding an acceptable and honourable political solution with Ravi, who is also the incumbent Nagaland governor at the helm,.

According to it, past interlocutors and negotiators, in mutual comfort zone, indulged in innuendo and political gymnastics with routine hyperboles and hypothetical assumptions to sedate the Naga people.

“As years ran their course it became an alibi, stale and redundant. It was a deliberate ploy to dwell more on impossibilities rather than possibilities which has left the Nagas feeling betrayed,” the statement said.

For a change, having understood the genesis of Indo-Naga conflict, Ravi redefined the dynamics, looked straight in the eye, met the Naga civil societies, listened to tribes and put pen to paper.

From day one, the statement said the working committee of NNPGs believed in inclusivity and transparency.

“Brainstorming on critical issues taking our people’s view into consideration has been a powerful ingredient in the ongoing political dialogue. We have negotiated at length and agreed in principle the proposed political arrangements, entrenching distinct Naga identity in all Naga inhabited areas. After all it is a Naga narrative and not of one leader,” the statement said.

The working committee said it believed that Prime Minister Modi, home minister Amit Shah and Ravi, by now, realize that the Naga people have great hope in their future through enduring peaceful coexistence, as reflected in the ‘Agreed Position’ of November 17, 2017.

It said it will neither comment nor tutor Ravi on how to play a gubernatorial role in Nagaland and added commenting on the actions of the Governor will not serve the purpose.

The Naga people and history will judge him either as hero or villain over his dual role, the committee stated.

Revamp or be irrelevant, Naga Hoho told

The working committee asked the Naga Hoho to restructure and revamp itself or remain irrelevant.

It said the insidious, prejudiced and incoherent press statements emanating in the name of Naga Hoho in recent times reveal that the seal, letterhead and the very soul of Naga Hoho has been sold and surrendered completely.

The committee said the Nagas are free spirited people and that the Naga Hoho’s ignorance of reality, bankruptcy of purpose and vision is shocking.

“This is why the Naga tribes abandoned it one after the other. Without Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization, Nagaland Tribes Council, Central Nagaland Tribes Council and Nagaland Gaon Bura Federation, Naga Hoho has no centre of gravity and disbands itself. Its sorry existence and paid activities shrink by the day!” it said.

The statement said if the remnant Naga Hoho desires to comment on the current Indo-Naga dialogue, it necessitates them seeking the advice and opinion of the working committee of NNPGs beside others. Simply parroting someone’s lines makes an organisation an object of ridicule, it added.

The statement reminded the Naga Hoho that all formal negotiations with both NSCN (I-M) and the working committee of NNPGs ended by mutual agreement and consent, on October 31, 2019.

“This status quo is accepted whereby dialogue process and finalisation of negotiated matters continue to this day,” it said.

The committee said it is extremely disturbed by the manner in which the good name of Naga Hoho is being misused by a handful of disillusioned men driven by personal ambitions.

“Never has there been a mass based organisation in recent memory that degenerated, rot, decayed and died as quickly as the Naga Hoho. A gang of covetous men have destroyed the foundation and tarnished the great vision of the founders of the Naga Hoho,” it said.

The statement said the Naga Hoho, if it really exists, should peruse through the ‘Agreed Position’ signed between the government of India and the working committee of NNPGs on November 17, 2017.

It reminded that the Sumi Hoho, the apex Sumi tribal body, directed Naga Hoho president HK Zhimomi, a bona-fide Sumi, to disassociate from the Naga Hoho since it is not affiliated to the organisation.

But he went against his own tribe and crowned himself the Naga Hoho president for which he was excommunicated for six years, implying he is an outcast in the eyes of Sumi people, it said.

The committee said the Naga tradition is clear that excommunicated members cannot represent even a village let alone represent the Nagas.

Despite this glaring ineligibility, Zhimomi and few of his colleagues continue to seek misplaced glory using the platform of Naga Hoho oblivious to the fact that today the attention of the Naga tribes has shifted towards a comprehensive social and political unity outside the Naga Hoho.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com