The toll from the infighting has been heavy. And perhaps no one knows this better than the NSCN (IM). No record with The Sangai Express but the figure from the infighting may be higher than the clashes with the security forces in the decades old movement launched by the Naga underground outfit/s, starting from the days of the Naga National Council (NNC) during the time of the late AZ Phizo. After the Shillong Accord was signed in 1975, a group of underground fighters, vociferously led by Th Muivah, SS Khaplang and Isak Chisi Swu dubbed it a sellout and thereafter followed the bloody clashes between the Accordists and the rebels who refused to toe the line of the Shillong Accord. Manipur too witnessed the bloodshed, as a good number of people were assassinated, especially in Ukhrul district. Nothing much to suggest that the difference has been settled as the NNC is still in existence, though it is no longer a major player. It was on the ember of this clash that the NSCN was formed in 1980 under Swu, Muivah and Khaplang. Things however did not last long as the NSCN witnessed a vertical split and there emerged the NSCN (IM) and the NSCN (K) in 1988. What followed was bloodshed and more bloodshed and many a number of rebel leaders from either side were gunned down in the factional clash. The intense stand off between the two factions led to the assassination of Dally Mungro in 1999, the then general secretary of the NSCN (K).
There were further splits in the NSCN (K), the most prominent being the emergence of the NSCN (KK) and the NSCN (R) later. It is against this backdrop that the NSCN (IM) has raised the banner of Naga unity and reconciliation. Not the first time that such a call has been issued and nothing to indicate that this will be the last either. This brings all to the question of whether the inner contradictions and differences may prove to be the bigger stumbling block than finding a solution with the Government of India. This is important in the backdrop of the fact that the NSCN (IM) has claimed that the 19 years long negotiation with the Government of India has now reached the ‘concluding stage.’ The important point is how the other groups will respond to the call of the NSCN (IM). Remember the NSCN (K) has already abrogated the ceasefire pact with the Government of India and the Paraolon ambush last year in which 18 soldiers were killed will surely not be forgotten that easily. This was followed by raids conducted by India along the border. Given this reality, will the Khaplang faction respond to the call of the NSCN (IM) ? Difficult to say, but for the sake of the Naga people, all differences may be set aside. The fact stands that all the armed groups raised the banner of revolt on behalf of the people and hence there should be no reason why they cannot set aside their differences for the sake of the people. Ultimately it is the people who matter the most.