Not exactly the end of an era for the dialogue process between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) is still underway and will continue. But in the passing away of Isak Chisi Swu, it can be undoubtedly stated that the NSCN (IM), Nagaland and the Nagas have lost a towering personality. Perhaps the space created by the demise of the chairman of the outfit will be hard to fill. From the jungles to the negotiating table, Swu certainly travelled a long distance during his time here and his influence may be said to have been reflected in the Framework Agreement signed between the outfit and the Government of India in 2015. Remember it was his health which prompted the outfit and New Delhi to at least ink an agreement, thereby underlining the importance of the man who passed away on June 28 at New Delhi following multiple organ failure. He was 85 (some news agencies have put his age at 87) and spent the greater part of his life waging a battle for what he believed were the rights of the Naga people. Just how committed he was to the cause of the Nagas can be seen from the manner in which he was among the three chief architects in forming the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980 after opposing the Shillong Accord along with Thuingaleng Muivah and SS Khaplang. Again his commitment to the beliefs he held dear could be seen when the NSCN split into the NSCN (Khaplang) and NSCN (Isak-Muivah) faction in 1988.
Associated with the underground movement from the 1950s and then coming to the negotiating table, it was certainly a long and eventful journey for the man from Zunheboto district in Nagaland. The natural question that comes to mind is, after Isak who ? Sure there is the other prominent leader of the outfit in the person of Thuingaleng Muivah but surely another leader of the outfit will have to succeed the late man. Early days yet to say who is likely to succeed him, but the outfit has more than demonstrated that it is not short of capable men who can rise to occasion. Nagaland and all the Nagas will mourn the demise of Swu but significantly the mourning will not be confined to Nagaland alone but also to the neighbouring States such as Manipur. It has to do not only with the reach of the outfit, which he served for decades, but also due to his leadership qualities. How long the NSCN (IM), Nagaland and the Nagas will mourn his death is not yet known, but in his death the outfit and the Nagas have lost a leader who steered the course of their history for decades.