Kashmir to Kohima: The muddied pathway to peace talks

Modi Nagaland
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with then-Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang during inauguration of Hornbill Festival on December 1, 2014.

On August 14, 1947, a day before India made her tryst with destiny, the Naga National Council (NNC), then an omnipotent political organisation of the Naga people headed by Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Independence for the Nagas.

However, the world outside did not immediately get to know about the development as the NNC’s telegram addressed to leading Indian newspapers informing about its proclamation of independence was not dispatched by the postmaster of Kohima post office following an instruction from the then-deputy commissioner of the Naga Hills, Charles Pawsey.

Information blackout to suppress dissent has since then become a part of the Indian statecraft and has been used, as recently as in Kashmir. On August 5, the BJP-led Centre announced its decision to abrogate special status to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution and split it into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Communication and travel restrictions imposed since then have been eased only selectively.

The action in Kashmir naturally has repercussions in India’s Northeast, particularly in Nagaland, as states in the region enjoy varied degrees of autonomy under various provisions of the Constitution on the basis of the principle of asymmetric federalism.

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