Empowering Peace

With increasing evidence of factional clashes and an overt turf war spreading from the rural hinterlands to populated urban areas of Kohima and Dimapur, the much hyped and talked about Ceasefire Ground Rules that the Government of India has signed with the two NSCNs has today become a mockery with zero visibility of authority to monitor and implement it. There could be a hundred and one excuses, some of them reasonable, but the fact remains that no one seems to be in control of the situation, not the State government or security forces and definitely not the Ceasefire Monitoring Group/Supervisory Board. To add to this, the complete silence on the part of the Government of India has now put serious doubts in the minds of people on whether there is an altogether sinister design to derail the peace and reconciliation process being addressed on various fronts. 

Given the all round insincerity of the present establishment, it is therefore advisable for the general public to claim control of the present situation instead of hopelessly waiting for the law to protect them. The recent instance of how the public in Zunheboto were able to mobilize under the platform of the Peace Monitoring Cell Zunheboto (PMCZ) and persuade both NSCN factions to move out of Zunheboto Town is extremely encouraging and needs to be applauded. Displaying a keen sense of ingenuity the PMCZ ensured that those from the district administration, police and other security forces were kept in the dark about the meeting. The Sumi Hoho, Women Organization, Zunheboto Town Council and Churches worked round the clock to restore normalcy in the town after the tense situation that occurred from May 24. Managing to bring the two groups for talks over one table is truly a remarkable achievement given that the much hyped initiatives like the consultative committee for peace have almost a zero percent success ratio. 

The other issue that needs to be brought out into public discourse is on whether the Government of India’s representatives at the CFMG/CFSB led by the Chairman should be allowed to continue in the chair when it is clearly evident that the present mechanism to monitor the ceasefire has become virtually defunct. The rag tag team headed by Lt.-General (Retd) Ramesh Kulkarni, exists but it lacks the teeth or backing by the Government of India to be truly effective. While the helplessness of Kulkarni is quite understandable, it also goes without saying that time is running out and the Chairman and his team should take a leaf or two from the PMCZ by putting ingenuity into the monitoring process and demonstrate sincerity to maintain peace at all cost. If not, as suggested by the Zunheboto public, the respective peace cell or board should be dissolved in the event of failure to deliver the task assigned to it.

Likewise having thus far failed to deliver anything substantive, the government and the civil society groups led by the Naga Hoho should now encourage and support the PMCZ type of micro level initiative centered on local people’s resources, skills, knowledge and their understanding of the situation rather than allowing the process to be stalled in bureaucratic red tape, power struggle and rigid political ideologies. Traditional peacemaking skills has to be fully explored in the context of the Naga reconciliation process. Peace Corps such as the PMCZ involving tribal hohos and grass root organizations must be supported to work in situations of conflict in their respective zones. If every tribal hoho can work on an individual case basis under the supervision of the Naga Hoho that way each community can contribute to the maintenance of several zone of peace and tranquility. After all at the end of the day even the armed cadres of the various groups may not want to risk public support. In the final analysis sovereign power ultimately rests with the people and not in any leader, group or parties. If nothing, at least this principle has to be respected.