Wednesday’s (May 24) spate of factional killings spread across Nagaland is a sad reminder of the tragic extent to which killings among Nagas has come to symbolize its freedom struggle. Unless there is an immediate stop to such madness, the continuing violence will only awaken further feelings of anger and reprisal. Whether it is the killing of the NSCN (K) Kilonser Ngampan Konyak or the reprisal killing of NSCN (IM) Leacy Sukhaho Rotoka, for ordinary Nagas, the hurt and sense of despair is felt in equal measure. That fratricidal killing is taking place amongst those who took up arms for a common political struggle and the fact that more Nagas are being killed in the last few years at the hands of fellow Nagas questions the very aim of the struggle itself. 

Rightly so as mentioned by the NSF, ‘the Naga national leaders need to be questioned as to why infighting is taking place’ to such an extent and whether there are no more sensible leaders left among the Nagas who have the authority and moral conscience to stop this hell on earth being perpetuated and at what cost, for what reasons and for whom. It is now high time that the UG leaders are made answerable for their acts of commissions and omissions and for this they should have no qualms about subjecting themselves to a critical appraisal if they at all claim to represent the people’s mandate. 

As for the State government, political parties and civil society groups, someone should immediately take the initiative for third party mediation and start working on a formal appeal to the factions that would in a united way call for a suspension of hostilities (cease-fire). This appears to be the only realistic first step to bring an end to the constant cycle of violence and fratricidal killings. Once suspension of hostilities (ceasefire) comes into force, a favorable climate can be created for exploring different mechanisms towards finding permanent peace in the land. 

It is also a suggestion that Track-2 diplomacy on a priority basis can begin like the one initiated by the Konyak Union and Sumi Hoho under the Joint Tribes Tribunal some few years back. At that time the two factions of the NSCN had almost worked out some sort of agreement after much painstaking effort of the Joint Tribunal. Although the process itself collapsed due to the intransigence of UG leaders, the two Hohos are also in the best position to re-start from where they left off. While this would require the prior consent of the Naga Hoho, the apex tribal body has nothing to lose to re-open this diplomatic front and delegate the two Hohos to save the present situation from further deteriorating. 

While the Naga Hoho as the apex umbrella organization should give greater priority to political reconciliation and quicken the pace for the setting up of its planned reconciliation committee, it should likewise use its forum to tell both the NSCN factions to take unilateral steps to ease the tense situation. On their part, the Naga national groups must realize that the government of India would prefer the status quo and allow Nagas to destroy each other through their divisive policy. The factions should understand that the government of India is smarter than all of them and New Delhi would want enough room to maneuver in this situation. The continuing political intransigence on the part of the UG leaders does not help their cause in anyway but rather it puts them on the defensive and on sinking ground. Against the reality of this situation, the only plausible option that remains now is the cessation of hostilities as the first step to begin other peace building options.