After failing to solve one of the oldest insurgencies in South-East Asia with negotiations that have dragged on for more than a quarter-century, the Nagas are now exploring the scope of “foreign” intervention.
The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN (IM) has renewed its bid to internationalise the Naga issue at a time when the pro-Khalistan movement is also gaining steam in Australia and Canada — much to India’s security concern.
Incidentally, when the separatist groups are internationalising the country’s ethnic fault-lines, the BJP-led Union government is busy raising a brouhaha over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s speech allegedly maligning India in the United Kingdom.
Naga-American Council reactivated
The NSCN (IM) has been holding peace parleys with the Centre since 1997 to end the Naga separatist movement that started even before India attained independence. The negotiation, however, reached a stalemate over the NSCN (IM)’s demands for a separate flag and a constitution.
Amid the limbo, the Washington-based Naga-American Council (NAC) has been reactivated with the induction of two high-profile US citizens.
The council will “raise awareness about the plight of the Naga people in the Capitol Hill, the seat of the US government, as well as in the embassies of various countries based in Washington,” said an NSCN (IM) communique.
The Council was formed in 2003 by Grace Collins, the “honorary ambassador” of the “Nagalim,” the homeland envisaged by the NSCN (IM). After being dormant for years, the council made news last month, when Collins expanded her team by roping in a strategist, Dr Thomas Cellucci, and a human rights attorney, Nora Manjja, for the overseas Naga outreach campaign.
Cellucci had served as the US Federal Government’s first-ever Chief Commercialization Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In the reorganised NAC, Collins has assumed the role of honorary president, while Cellucci has been made honorary prime minister and Manjja, chief legal counsel. Collins, in an email to The Federal, said the council was revamped to “become a strong political action committee through our executive team.”
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The team’s outreach will include “the American people, US Federal agencies, churches, private philanthropists as well as the US allies of the democratic free world, NGOs, the United Nations, World Bank and USAID”.
Looking for “third-party” intervention
The NSCN (IM) caused a flutter in the Indian security establishment when it made an entry into Netherlands-based Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) on January 23, 1993, internationalising the Naga problem. The UNPO is an international organization established to empower the voices of unrepresented and marginalized peoples worldwide and to protect their rights to self-determination.
Soon after the development, the then Congress-led government headed by Narasimha Rao made peace overtures to the NSCN (IM). Rao secretly met NSCN (IM) leaders in Paris in 1995 to propose political dialogues, which led to the ceasefire agreement in 1997.
The recent move by the NSCN (IM) comes amid its call for “third-party” intervention to take forward the “Indo-Naga political talks.”
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“With more than 26 years of political talks between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim not leading to where it should have, the Nagas are getting restive and looking beyond the border for third-party intervention,” NSCN (IM)’s monthly bulletin Nagalim Voice claimed in its latest edition.