Apart from Full Freedom, There is No Point to Demand or Argue with India: NSCN-K Chairman

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In his first interview to any media organisation, Yung Aung, chairman of the insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s Khaplang faction (NSCN-K) speaks to CNN-News18 at length on the “struggle for freedom”, the future of Nagaland, the crackdown by Indian and Myanmar armies, and the role of China.

His statements come at a time when the National Socialist Council of Nagaland [Isak-Muivah] (NSCN-IM), which is the dominant faction of the NSCN, has agreed to talks with the government.

Aung joined the NSCN-K in the late 1990s, when it had signed a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government. But in 2015, SS Khaplang, the group’s founder, unilaterally ended the ceasefire and backed out from peace talks. Aung remained one of Khaplang’s most devoted allies and also became close with Paresh Baruah, the commander-in-chief of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent).

With Baruah’s help, Aung reportedly went to Pakistan and China in the noughties to receive training in weapons and intelligence. Last year, the (NSCN-K) elected him its new chief to replace chairman Khango Konya.

In the exclusive interview, the 46-year-old says the Nagas don’t trust New Delhi, while he thanks Beijing for providing assistance and “moral support” to the separatist movement.

Is it possible for NSCN-K to prevent the operations of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) along with the powerful Indian army in the way of an independent Naga nation?

So long as both colonial countries (India and Myanmar) continue to dominate our country, fighting is inevitable. We will continue the fight till our goal is accomplished. We cannot prevent their joint political and military operations, because it is their only option to completely annihilate our struggle. But that doesn’t mean that NSCN/GPRN will be weakened. In fact, we are more strengthened than ever. As long as we have our right and the people’s support, no force on Earth can stop us.

After occupation of the Taka base by the Tatmadaw, the Eastern Nagas are allegedly facing a lot of pressure and harassment from the force. At this crucial juncture, is it possible for ordinary Nagas to support your group for your freedom struggle?

Torture and harassment for Nagas, especially the Eastern Nagas, is not something new. Throughout the course of our national struggle, thousands of innocent and defenceless Nagas have suffered atrocities at the hands of the Indian army and the Tatmadaw. It is still fresh in their minds.

All Nagas know that their suffering today is for a better tomorrow. Our national struggle survived and keeps going on only due to the non-stop support and corporation of the common Naga people.

Right now the GOI is moving fast to sign the final pact with NSCN-IM and other NNPGs (Naga National Political Groups). What do you think about that?

Right from the very beginning, the Nagas do not trust India. India is not serious about the Naga issue, and instead kept the Nagas in a state of complete confusion through a divisive ‘confuse and destroy’ policy. Through that policy, lots of innocent blood was shed for the last many decades.

The NSCN/GPRN is silent on the present negotiations between the Government of India, NSCN-IM and NNPGs because it is a talk within the Indian constitution, and it has nothing to do with the Naga struggle for complete independence.

The present condition is utilised by India to create confusions and suspicion between Nagas. It is not sincere towards the real Naga issue. Politically conscious Nagas have slowly come to realise the real intention of the Indian government.

Sad but true, as everyone knows the NNPGs are only for the Nagas of the present Nagaland state. They are ‘confused’ Nagas who do not have a concrete agenda; hence they do not represent the whole Naga political issue. They will continue to thrive as long as they are spoon-fed by India at the expense of the Naga people.

Today, our stand is clear. Apart from full freedom, there is no point to demand or argue with India. It is not a choice or option, it is the birthright of every Naga citizen.

If India recognises the unique political situation of the Nagas, it must also be realistic in dealing with the core issue. When the British were able to grant complete independence, why is it so hard for India to recognise the Naga sovereignty?

Tatmadaw accused your group of supporting India-based rebel groups like ULFA(I), NDFB(S), KLO, PDCK, KYKL, PLA, UNLF and others inside Eastern Nagaland (Sagaing Region). Is it possible to carry on your freedom movement inside Myanmar?

Accusation and blame game are Myanmar and India’s political tactics. One thing to be clarified is that, the Nagas are not struggling in foreign land but in the land that belongs to the Nagas.

I would not call these groups as ‘rebel’, but rather ‘revolutionaries’ fighting for their genuine cause. If we look back at history, they have been betrayed and deprived of their rights by India. We have a long history and till today we stand together as brothers because we also share a common political ideology. Today we are more determined more cautious and more united than ever; hence the movement is moving forward.

At this crucial situation, is one of the most powerful countries, China, ready to help your movement?

The whole world is watching our issue closely, including China. The Nagas are always thankful to the Chinese for their moral support and assistance to us in our initial struggle. As a struggling nation, of course the Nagas need help. However, we know our limits. We cannot depend for everything on others.

We respect and understand China and its position as a global leader. A moment will come when the Nagas will need its help once again. Today, our Naga people’s everlasting support and cooperation is the need of the hour. It is their strength and hope that provides the fuel and energy to our journey ahead towards our awaited goal.

If the Government of Myanmar and GOI invite you for negotiation, are you ready to participate?

The NSCN/GPRN is never against negotiation or political talk. The door is always open. However it should be based on mutual understanding and true respect in order to come to a healthy and conclusive agreement. That is the key factor to solve any issue.

The NSCN/GPRN is ready if it is based on true Naga issue; i.e., full sovereignty of the Nagas. However, if we deeply analyse the present attitudes of both India and Myanmar, they are not ready for true negotiation, and neither of them are interested to solve the issue.

Since the 1980s, thousands of Nagas have ‘sacrificed’ themselves for this struggle. But nowadays, due to globalisation, the mindsets of new generation has changed. What do you think?

The Nagas held a plebiscite in 1951 where 99 per cent opted for complete independence. They also boycotted the first Indian Election of 1952. The Nagas refused to be included in Burma’s Panglong Agreement of 1947 and also refused to be included in the Union.

History speaks the truth. These decision of Nagas on both sides of the imposed boundary purely reflected their wishes to remain united and independent. With globalization, the young are more educated, more prepared and more supportive. Today they are more aware of their rights and history than their ancestors.

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