IN THEĀ face of dozens of piercing gazes, the young Naga journalist, struggling to hold back tears, said: āFor the sake of healing and the future, all who have committed wrongs in the name of the Naga cause, whether underground or not, must be held accountable. But, right now is the time for reconciliation.ā The occasion was the āSitting Around the Fireā conference in Delhi on 25-26 March, to discuss the way forward for the reconciliation process of the underground groups (UG). With a reconciliatory mood spreading amongst the Nagas, Bodos and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the logic seems to be unless the UG factions unite, a lasting solution with India cannot be achieved.
Factional violence in Nagaland reached a peak in 2007-08 with the NSCN(IM) and NSCN(K) locked in a battle for dominance. With thousands orphaned and widowed, a group of Nagas stepped in to put an end to the internal clashes. In February 2008, Reverend Wati Aier started the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), a non-government initiative to bring the warring factions together. The ongoing clashes in Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh between NSCN(IM) and NSCN(K) put the internal reconciliation and the Indo-Naga peace process in jeopardy. The postponement of the FNRās āmeeting at the highestā, pegged as a breakthrough moment, has forced them to admit the process of reconciliation has stagnated. āToday the Naga people have become indifferent, they donāt care anymore. They need to realise that while the underground leaders are doing what they can, the onus is on the people to push them towards reconciliation,ā says Akum Longchari, an FNR member. āAt the same time, the groups need to realise reconciliation is not the language of the weak. It is the only way forward.ā
This reconciliation effect has spilt over into neighbouring Assam. Both the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and ULFA seem eager to hold internal talks before talking to the government.