An appeal letter to Naga Leaders of Civil Societies, Tribe Hohos, Women
Associations & Unions, Churches, Forums and Student Bodies in Naga Homeland:
Nagas have indeed come a long way from the time our forebears fiercely guarded and defended their village territories and ancestral domains to the hilt, leaving behind the seeds of freedom sowed with sweat and tears and nurtured by blood. Our generation is the first beneficiary of the sacrifices they made. We are also the 21st century inheritors of one of the most efficient and cohesive systems of self-government in human history: the traditional communitarian Naga village. And now we find ourselves in a critical moment and place for survival as a people. We have an urgent self-defining choice to make.
The choice is urgent but simple. Do we have the courage and the wisdom to carry forward our rich Naga cultural inheritance by addressing and resolving the divisions among us? We are on the cusp of a history-making decision. No exaggeration. We sense we have come this close to either slipping into the deep historical precipice of lost peoples or uniting ourselves to build a bridge to the other side of the precipice for a bright collective future. Our prolonged lack of unity has brought us to the brink. And it troubles us deeply that this generation of Nagas, especially the leaders, seem determined to blindfold themselves with antagonistic posturing of all kinds to take us all down. After all our people have been through, we refuse to believe our leaders will choose that path, because we know it will slowly but certainly “disappear” the Nagas as a people from the face of the earth. We are not a numerous people. It won’t take much more than a prolonged period of mutual mistrust and fear, self-inflicted wounds, anxieties, insecurities, and mutual misgivings and indifference, all the things rampant in our society, to do that. There are moments in life when skepticism and doubt can disable a necessary and resolute wise action. This is no time for indecision and weakness.
So we fervently call upon the social and patriotic conscience of Naga leaders today. If our formally uneducated forebears could develop and administer an orderly and sophisticated system of self-government that stood united against foreign aggressors, why can’t Naga leaders in the 21st century, after a lifetime of sacrifice for the Naga cause, agree among themselves that Nagas are a people who have the right to self-determination and who belong together in an undivided homeland? And why can’t they take that united non-negotiable demand to the talks with the Government of India? We the Naga people cannot understand how any responsible Naga group can oppose such a basic principle or object to signing on to so universally accepted a human right as that.
We believe the time for self-imposed stalemate is over. The survival of the Nagas is at stake. We are on the brink of a precipice. The entrenched culture of Naga divisions is killing us, because it is fed by alignments along sectarian NPGs, political parties, and their respective CSOs, each claiming a greater legitimacy based on mutually exclusive reasoning or rewriting of the history of the freedom struggle its way. We wonder what kind of society we are creating for ourselves and our children and grandchildren with every national group and political party self-righteously marching under the banner that reads, “My way or no way,” and expects the people to march under its flag. We are convinced that in a deeply fragmented society like ours, the starting point for any meaningful dialogue and understanding begins with the recognition that we cannot antagonize and influence each other positively at the same time. As joint stakeholders, Nagas of all groups must enter into relationships with honest intention for the common good of the society, making our political intent clear and campaigning for it, but not as enemies. The Naga cause is noble and should not be degraded to the level of inter-group rivalries for sectarian interests. We have serious nation-building to do beyond unending nationalism and partisan politics. We must unite behind the urgent work of Naga nation-building. It is time to move away from armed struggle and political rhetoric to the task of uplifting our people’s daily lives in a planned, systematic, and sustained manner.
We believe in your leadership, collectively and as individuals. We know each of you has earned your position of leadership in our society in your own right, and you are exemplars of lives lived with conviction and commitment to causes greater than yourselves, for which you have our admiration and gratitude. We would like to end by humbly reminding you that unprecedented crises call for unprecedented leadership. And we are confident you will meet the unprecedented challenge facing the Naga people now. We can do this together with your leadership. Best Wishes.