Nagalim and Naxalism
Indian Eastern seaboard and seven sisters of the North East combine to form almost 40% of Indian landmass and house the bulk of downtrodden and disenfranchised India. No wonder more than fifty active insurgencies are imploding in this region. Indian establishment has been able to camouflage this area with a perception of all is well, however, the information empowerment of the masses and social media implosion is posing a new and severe challenge to the Indian government.
In 1966, the rebel cadres led by Charu Majumdar launched a peasants’ uprising at Naxalbari in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Tribes retaliated and started forcefully capturing back their lands. The CPI (M) led United Front government cracked down on the uprising, and in 72 days of the “rebellion,” a police sub-inspector and nine tribesmen were killed. The Congress govt at the Centre supported the crackdown. The incident echoed throughout India and Naxalism was born. The movement has now spread to almost 160 districts of India and threatens the rule of 18% upper-class Hindus. Naxalism now dominates the mineral-rich Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal, part of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and even Maharashtra.
Naxal movement derives its strength from Maoist ideology and wants to establish the Naxal Republic with the rule of the proletariat. Naxals are organised into military platoons, wings, and battalions, ranging between 50 to 500 in strength and having a total mass of 25000-armed rebels with indirect support from almost 200 million people in 160 districts. With their heroes and fountain heads like Charu Majumdar, Jangal Santhal and Kanu Sanyal who perished in the fight for Naxalism, the new generation of young Naxalists is taking the movement to a new high. Currently, new leaders like Lakshmana Rao ‘Ganapathy’ are fighting for the cause of Naxalism. Despite all the negativism fomented by mainstream media, Charu Majumdar is still alive and adored in the forests of Eastern Indian seaboard, also called the Red corridor.
Struggle for Nagalim in the Indian North East has been regularly resurrecting its head since the time of British Raj. Nagas are tribal people of the Burmo-Mongolian race who have inhabited the Indian North East for almost 5000 years. With distinct culture, heritage, socio-religious outlook, and traditions, Nagas have never belonged to India. British colonization of Sub Continent brought Nagaland under the British Raj, gradually the American and European missionaries like Baptist E.W. Clark converted the Nagas into staunch Christians. No wonder 90 % of Nagaland is predominantly Christian. While Naga people enjoyed special status under British rule, they did not accept the state of India after partition in 1947, as half of their brethren were cut off due to an artificial boundary between Burma and India.
The Naga Club had existed in the thirties of the last century and became Naga National Council. The Simon Commission was presented the Naga Memorandum by the Naga Club which explicitly stated, ‘to leave us alone to determine ourselves as in ancient times.’ In February 1946, the Naga Club officially took shape into unified Naga National Council in Wokha. National Naga Council was led by Dr. Phizo who struggled throughout his life for a free Nagaland. Gradually Naga movement became Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) with a more prominent aim of uniting all Naga tribes into greater Nagalim. NSCN now operates with two major brands, NSCN(I-M) based in Indian occupied Nagaland driving its name from two leaders, Isak Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah and NSCN(K) or Khaplang group stationed in Northern Myanmar.
Both groups have struggled for one cause, free Nagalim. The lot that has replaced the movement’s old leadership is well prepared to run the affairs of the movement and serve the purpose of ideologues. Isak Chishi and SS Khaplang passed away in-between 2016-17 and had been replaced by firebrand leaders like Khango Konyak. While the Indian government has tried to play down the Nagaland movement it has been trying to conduct secret deals and accords with different factions. A BBC report, published on 4 Aug 2015, highlighted the challenges faced by the Indian government.
Mr Muivah’s counterpart Naga leader SS Khaplang reneged on a ceasefire with India in March 2015. His fighters have kept attacking Indian security forces ever since. Aleast 30 Indian soldiers have been killed in these attacks – at least 20 died in one strike in Manipur state in June 2015. Mr. Khaplang , who had an alliance with several other north-east Indian rebel groups, opposed the accord as a “sell-out” and said he would not compromise with the “Naga desire for independence.” States of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh also opposed this demand that, if fulfilled, would take away their Naga-dominated areas.
Naga Accord Framework has nothing new to offer than the infamous Shillong Accord of 1975. Neither the Naga militant groups dropped the demand for Naga sovereignty, nor it allowed any open discussion. All major stakeholders including the affected states were never consulted by Doval-Modi circus, as was done in case of the disastrous demonitization drive last year.
Nagaland bandh, which began from Dec 2016 and lasted till March 2017 resulted in a blockade by Naga activists and cut of Indian North East from mainland India for three long months. Modi’s agreement with Muivah has been kept very secret as its disclosure may pave the way for other states of Indian Union to draw concessions and eventual breakup of India. Can a greater Nagalim exist with overlapping geographical zone spanning the seven sisters of Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura?
What will be effects of Nagalim on bordering areas of Northern Myanmar who is already reeling under the crises of Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh? With cow vigilantes of RSS marauding the social landscape of mainland India, what is the future of carnivorous Nagas and other tribes of seven sisters. As pointed by Assadduin Awaisi, ‘cow is yummy in North East but mummy in rest of India.’ Is a Saffronised India riding a driverless train on its way to smash its head against the wall of sanity?
Naga and Naxal social activism is a new headache affecting Indian home ministry. The youth has found innovative ways to bypass the state oppression and formed associations and groups who are highly organised and dynamic. The latest development has seen different insurgents groups forming a grand alliance like United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) comprising United Liberation Front of Assam, NSCN, Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and National Democratic Front of Bodoland.
Many in Pakistan may not have heard the names of Naxal and Naga warriors like Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, Dr. Phizo, Thuingaleng Muivah, SS Khaplang and the rising Konyak, but these unsung heroes of eastern and northeastern India have become legends in local folklore. Pakistan should support all oppressed communities in India who have been exploited, marginalized and crushed by Brahmin Raj. Those who claim to be leftists and liberals in Pakistan should know that Naxalites and Nagas are epitomes of leftist liberalism and need their active and moral support. Indian deceptive policy of ‘all is well is a bogey,’ time has come to support the 77% of Indian people who would love to throw the yolk of Brahmin slavery in the first opportunity made available.