Seventeen years after a grand “homecoming”, Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah is under pressure to strike a balance between living up to “Naga aspirations” and keeping Nagaland’s neighbours in good humour.
Muivah is the general secretary of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) with which the NDA government signed a framework peace accord earlier this month.
In 1998, a year after the NSCN-IM declared ceasefire with the Indian armed forces, Muivah and his outfit’s chairman, Isak Chishi Swu, returned to Nagaland after years of controlling the guerrilla warfare from foreign soil.
Muivah is scheduled to visit Dimapur again on Wednesday, but Swu — undergoing treatment in New Delhi — will not be by his side. Muivah is expected to explain what the “framework agreement” is all about.
The NSCN-IM’s official brief is that Muivah would be attending the 69th Naga Independence Day at the outfit’s Camp Hebron near Dimapur on August 14. Since 1947, Naga rebels have observed this day to protest Nagaland’s inclusion in the Indian Union.
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“Our general secretary will also dwell at length on the latest Naga deal,” a spokesperson of the outfit said.
But several Naga organisations, such as the Naga Hoho, the influential apex body of all Naga tribes, have asked Muivah to end the suspense and reveal the contents of the peace accord. “The expectations are very high,” Witoubou Newmai, editor of Dimapur-based The Eastern Mirror, told HT.
Many in Nagaland believe Muivah would be walking a tightrope in explaining to his cadres what the agreement offers for the Nagas. “Muivah is aware of the backlash any slip-up might trigger, particularly in his home state Manipur, but keeping his flock together is more important to him than rubbing others the wrong way,” a Kohima-based conflict specialist said, seeking anonymity.
“The NSCN-IM cadres, as also Nagas across Nagaland and beyond, are keen on how he articulates the complicated issue.
This is a hard-earned peace, and Nagas don’t want to relapse into those days of violence and hopelessness,” he added.
Muivah, locals said, would also be wary of rival groups, such as the NSCN-Khole Kitovi and Naga National Council, which have panned the peace accord for not involving all stakeholders (rebel groups).
Alezo Venuh, leader of NSCN-KK group, even labelled Muivah an “outsider” in Nagaland. “So if the scope of this accord is within Nagaland, where does he stand?” he asked.
The onus, thus, is all the more on Muivah to come clean on the agreement, Nagas say.
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