Mainstream, VOL LIV No 1 New Delhi December 26, 2015
Indo-Naga Framework Agreement: Apprehensions and Expectations
Saturday 26 December 2015, by
The Indo-Naga Framework Agreement is a catalytic moment promising a more flexible template of peace-making. The agreement, signed on August 3, 2015, has established the broad principles that would guide the future delibe-rations between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-IM. The content of the agreement has not been disclosed. The Prime Minister did not share the details with members of his Cabinet or Members of Parliament. The NSCN-IM also did not give any inkling to the Naga people about what was included in the agreement. It was said that the details would be made public after the Union Government has discussed it with the Chief Ministers of other North-Eastern States and Members of Parliament.
Two aspects of the Framework Agreement have been made public—acceptance of the “uniqueness of Naga history and culture” by the Indian Government and the acceptance of the primacy of the Indian Constitution by the NSCN-IM. While Atal Behari Vajpayee had acknowledged the “unique history of the Nagas” in 2003, the NSCN-IM accepting the “primacy of the Indian Constitution” is a new develop-ment. It puts at rest the earlier ambiguities about the NSCN-IM’s position on the Indian Constitution.
This also signifies that the NSCN-IM has abandoned the objective of establishing an independent sovereign state for the Naga people. Although the NSCN-IM has walked a long way from its previous position, the Government of India remains reluctant to make any clear commitment on the issue of integration of the Naga-inhabited areas within India. None of these States, which have Naga population, is likely to accept the NSCN-IM’s demand. The past 18 years’ experience shows that the Indian Government is unlikely to cede the territories of other States claimed by the Nagas.
Secrecy is one of the most distinguishing features of this 18-year-long negotiation process. Secretiveness comes naturally to intelligence agencies and underground armed insurgent groups. And, as the talks are being conducted by senior officers of India’s intelligence agencies and the NSCN-IM, it is not surprising that they would like to keep their negotiations under wraps. While there may be many valid reasons for keeping the contents of the agreement a secret, the question arises: why publicise the signing of an agreement when you cannot disclose the content. The secretiveness also creates doubts and suspicions about the nature of the agreement among relevant stakeholders, both amidst the Nagas and amongst the neighbours who have been excluded from the peace dialogue. As we have seen, it has set off waves of anxiety, especially in Manipur, over the fundamental contradiction in the North-East—between claims to territory and people’s self-determination rights. Many Naga civil society actors have expressed their unhappiness with this secretive nature of the negotiations and had turned away from the NSCN-IM-sponsored “civil society consultations”. In fact after the announcement of the signing of the agreement several members of the Naga civil society expressed skepticism whether New Delhi or the NSCN-IM would ever consult them when the final accord is reached.
After the signing of the agreement Mr Ravi, the interlocutor, has been visiting Nagaland and has held several meetings. I am given to understand that Mr Ravi is particularly interested in ascertaining the views of the Naga people on the integration issue as well as the idea of a “pan-Naga government” which will have a “non-territorial” jurisdiction over the Naga people outside the present State of Nagaland.
I understand that he has held extensive rounds of talks. However, I was told by a senior member of the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) that Mr Ravi did not want to meet them. The NPMHR is perhaps the oldest secular civil society organisation of the Nagas and has a presence in all Naga-inhabited areas, and was formed long before both factions of the NSCN had come into existence. It has been a vocal critic of both the Indian security forces and the Naga insurgents for their human rights abuses. Generations of Naga youth have been involved with the NPMHR both in the North-East as well as outside. The NPMHR has a strong presence among the Naga students in several Indian universities in Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati and Kolkata. I am aware of the instrumental role played by some of the senior members of the NPMHR in bringing the leadership of the NSCN-IM and the Government of India to the peace talks in the nineties. They also played a significant role in the admission of the NSCN-IM in the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples as well as the Naga people’s admission to the UNPO. The NPMHR is not an obstruction to the peace process. They are an ally in the peace process. The logic of keeping them out is not clear.
What Does the Future Hold?
The “Framework” is not a new idea. Frustrated with lack of progress in the negotiations, nearly nine years after the beginning of the dialogue, the NSCN-IM had submitted a “Framework” for negotiations during its meeting with the Indian representatives in 2006 in Amster-dam.The NSCN-IM proposal had introduced a concept of a political arrangement based on the principle of “asymmetric federalism” which would be substantially different from the relationship existing between the Centre and Indian States. It was suggested that the new entity of Nagalim/Nagaland would have a separate Constitution, “within the framework of the Constitution of India” and it would be included as a “separate chapter” of the Indian Constitution. The NSCN-IM also wanted the agreement to set out the division of competencies between the Union of India and Nagaland, its substantive details would be incorporated within the Constitutions of both India and Nagaland. The “Framework”also contained a 20-point charter of demands. In this Charter, the NSCN-IM had sought the unification of all Naga-inhabited areas of the North-East, separate representation at the United Nations and greater rights over natural resources, finance, defence and policing.
On August 14, 2015 speaking at Hebron, Muivah claimed that it was “clearly stated in the agreement that both sides respect the people’s wishes for sharing sovereignty. We have to work out to what extent to share our rights to sovereignty. We will have sovereign right on our respective competencies.” It would seem that the disagreements on the concept of “asymmetric federalism” have been resolved. However, Muivah has not disclosed the contents of the proposals but said the Centre has accepted a “shared sovereignty”. He has not elaborated how the Centre was interpreting it. Clearly the NSCN-IM has climbed down from the demand of total sovereignty to a federal relationship with New Delhi, perhaps taking into account the current global political scenario.
It is not clear whether Nagalim would be governed by its own Constitution within the Indian Union and what would be the nature and terms for the sharing of sovereignty. This would require an amendment to Indian Constitution. There is no clarity on the issue of a separate flag for Nagalim, a separate judicial system and local police. The economic relations between India and Nagalim will be managed by a joint Economic Development Council of India and Nagalim, which will promote trade, investment and joint ventures between the two governments.
An “asymmetric federalism”where the Centre shares “sovereignty” with one of its constituent units is external to the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. While the Indian Consti-tution put certain restrictions on the writ of the Central Government in tribal areas under Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 as well as the Article 370 in case of Jammu and Kashmir, those restrictions did not confer on the tribes living in the 5th and 6th Schedule areas or the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the status of dual citizenship which the co-federal status would entail. India’s constitutional liberalism is founded on the basic principles of liberal democracies. While individual civil rights and political rights are well-articulated, however, it is difficult to define its approach to managing collective rights, particularly ethno-cultural diversity. Like most modern rationalist states, the Indian state has not been “neutral” on ethno-cultural issues. Its response to the demands of highly mobilised identities premised on cultural factors, and often demanding autonomy has been rather ad hoc—ranging from conceding minority cultural rights to denial of all such claims. The NSCN-IM’s main argument is that the Nagas are a separate people and a separate nation, who practise a distinct culture, who profess a distinct religion and who have a history that has nothing to with the history of India. The question is: to what extent would the Government of India and Indian political parties be willing to accept and accommodate the stated position of the Nagas?
The Question of Sovereignty
As the “shared sovereignty” arrangement is to replace the Naga demand for sovereignty, let us first examine the sovereignty issue. The Naga demand for an independent Naga state including all Naga ancestral homeland was first articulated by the Naga National Council, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, when it declared an independent Naga state on August 14, 1947. Nagas had rejected the merger of their homeland into India and had also rejected the Indian Constitution. They claimed to have held a plebiscite in 1950 in which, according to the NNC, nearly all Nagas had voted for independence.
Nearly seven decades later, the NSCN-IM is asking the Naga people to accept the “primacy of the Indian Constitution”. We are told that the NSCN-IM’s demand for sovereignty has been “addressed”. How it has been addressed is not clear. It would appear that the Government of India has been able to convince the NSCN-IM that under Indian Constitution sovereignty lies with the people and by accepting the Consti-tution, the Nagas would enjoy as much right over India as India has over Nagaland.
Have Nagas accepted this? There are sections of Nagas who seem to be willing to give up the sovereignty demand. The 18-year-long ceasefire has changed the minds of the Naga people, particularly in the Nagaland State. At least two generations of Nagas, who have come of age, have no experience of the freedom struggle and the brutal regime of the AFSPA. They are more familiar with the Army’s new slogan — “friends of the hill people”. The ceasefire-crafted peace brought in economic development, improvement in education, wider and deeper penetration of the market economy and all these have broken down the traditional control of the Naga elders and large number of Naga youth are working outside the State. Across the villages and towns in Nagaland, that sense of “separate Naga identity” had been faltering. Moving around Nagaland during the past ten years I have witnessed a gradual change in the people’s perceptions of tribal or communal identity, making way for individual aspirations and a search for other, more personal, identities. They are no longer inclined to take up the struggle for independence and face the might of the Indian military. Rather, they are keen to know what they would get beyond what the Indian state has given them till date. It would seem that Muivah is aware of this change in the mood and attitude of the Naga people. It is possible that he will be able to carry the process forward with the support of the younger generations of the Nagas.
But Muivah is also aware that sections of the older generation of the Nagas, who still wield substantial amount of authority in Naga society, might do what he had done after the Shillong Accord. Perhaps keeping that in mind, while speaking at the 69th Naga Independence Day function in Dimapur, he alluded to “rumours” that the NSCN-IM had given up the demand for sovereignty and integration. He claimed that these were the “core issues” and there would be “no solution whatsoever” without fulfilling the two issues. He proclaimed that there was no way the NSCN-IM would give it up as the whole idea of the Naga freedom movement was based on that very foundation. Giving up the sovereignty issue also means abandoning the ten Naga tribes who live in Myanmar to their fate. It would also mean formal acceptance of division of the homeland, division of tribes and division of families, which despite the international border the Nagas have not accepted till date.
Sovereignty and Eastern Nagas
In the Framework Agreement, there is no mention of what the Nagas call Eastern Nagas or Naga inhabited areas inside Myanmar. Clearly, the NSCN-IM has given up the Nagas in Myanmar. Yet, both the NNC and NSCN, before and after the split, had rejected the division of the Naga homelands by the Anglo-Burmese Yandabo agreement in 1826 and later 1953 under the Indo-Burmese demarcation in Kohima on the Naga territory by Pandit Nehru and U Nu, the then Prime Ministers of the two countries. There are more than 10 Naga tribes who live in Myanmar. The Nagas occupy a compact area of the northwestern region between the Chin state on the south and the Kachin state on the north of Myanmar.
In April 2012 Khaplang signed an agreement with the Thein Sein Government which granted autonomy in the ‘Naga Self-Governing Adminis-trative Unit’. Since then Khaplang with his base on the Myanmar side of the border has been trying to redefine his status and power in the changed context of the Burmese military junta’s new constitutional arrangements and electoral politics. At the same time, Khaplang had been seeking to outflank the Kitovi-Khole faction by reaching out to India agencies. Also, in an effort to counter the ascendancy of the rival I-M group, and it its monopoly of the Indo- Naga peace talks, Khaplang has been claiming that the NSCN-IM were not serious about the unification of the ancestral Naga domain. The dialogue between the NSCN-Khaplang and the Government of Myanmar is a tactical one. The NSCN-K has been allowed to retain its armed cadre on the understanding that it will not engage in any military activity inside Myanmar. This gives Khaplang and his army an unofficial protection and they are able to carry out their attacks across the border inside Indian territory. However, this has come at a price. Until recently the Naga territory in Myanmar was under one district or one administrative zone, that is, the Khamti district of the Sagaing division with a small part in the Kachin state. However, in 2008, the ruling the military junta of Myanmar decided to split the Naga territory. It created a Naga Self-Administered Region which included the hill townships of Layshi, Lahe and Namyung and took out Khamti, Homalin and Tamu and put these under the Sagaing division. This has created a lot of resentment among the ten Naga communities, of which the Konyaks are perhaps the largest, and put them into confrontation with the Government of Myanmar and with the Chins who have laid claim on nearly one-third of the Naga territory in Myanmar. The other reason for dissatisfaction is the USDP-led government’s programme of compulsory recruit-ment of Naga youth in the Border Guards Force. If what is being written by members of the nascent civil society actors of Nagas in Myanmar in their blogs is any indication, there is a growing voice against Khaplang’s leadership. It also seems that many of them are looking to the “elders in Western Naga” for support and guidance.
Changing Fortunes of NSCN-K
The relationship between the Nagas in India and Myanmar is not limited to only the NSCM-IM and NSCN-K. In 1997, a Naga National League for Democracy (NNLD) was established with its headquarters in Dimapur, Nagaland (India). It was constituted as a peaceful, nonviolent political organisation formed with the aim of restoring democracy in Burma and uplifting the lives of the Naga people and associated itself with the National League for Democracy (NLD). However, it did not partici-pate in any elections and did not get involved in any governance mechanism in the Naga townships of the Sagaing Region.
During the nineties the Khaplang group formed an important part of the Indian state’s efforts in combating the influence and power of the NSCN-IM. Multiple Indian agencies, politi-cians and even diplomats had for years patro-nised Khaplang and his faction of the NSCN. In Nagaland, no less than in Assam and other States in the North-East, there is an intricate nexus between the mainstream politicians and militants which particularly surfaces during elections. Khaplang has enjoyed the patronage of Nagaland’s Congress party Chief Minister, S.C. Jamir, whom the group assisted in the 1993 Assembly elections. Jamir is said to have made generous donations of cash and weapons to the group to militarily take on the NSCN-IM. A 1995 report of the National Human Rights Commission corroborated that the Khaplang group had been operating with impunity as it enjoyed the patronage of the Chief Minister. Evidence of Jamir’s patronage became public when the conspiratorial activities of the Nagaland Youth Liberation Front were exposed and it was revealed that members of the Khaplang group were working alongside functionaries of the State’s CID and the Nagaland Armed Police.
Khaplang has also been a valuable ally of Indian diplomats in countering the NSCN-IM’s bid to internationalise the Naga issue in the 1990s. In 1993 the NSCN-IM was admitted as a member of the international NGO, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organi-sation (UNPO), at The Hague, thus acquiring a legitimate presence in South-East and East Asia. In 1998, the NSCN secured a notable achievement when the UN Commission on Human Rights allowed the NSCN Chairman to address the 54th session of its Assembly in April 1998. Isak and Muivah have made several speeches in the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples (UNWGIP). It was at that time that in the corridors of Geneva, Khaplang was spotted. Covert agencies had facilitated Khaplang crossing over to Bangladesh where he acquired a passport to travel to Geneva. Khaplang was accompanied by R.K. Meghan alias Sasayama, the chairperson of the banned outfit, UNLF, a Meitei militant group with camps in Myanmar. He was the interpreter in Khaplang’s campaign to challenge the NSCN-IM’s claims to represent the Naga people. India’s representative to the UN, Arundhati Ghosh, was a quiet but obtrusive patron. The Government of India continued with its policy of dealing with the Naga insurgent groups separately often using one against the other to keep them disunited. However, the scene changed when the govern-ment decided to talk to the NSCN-IM.
One of the critical aspects of the “Peace Talks” that the Government of India has held with all insurgent groups in all parts of the country is that it has always decided who it would talk to. This is a part of the policy of divide and rule as well as harvesting the fruits of that policy. In this case also we see a repeat of the same practice. While speaking at the anniversary function of the UNPO in The Hague on February 11, 2011, NSCN-IM’s General V.S. Atem said that when the NSCN leaders Isak and Muivah during their meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, in Paris in 1995 had asked: “Why don’t you talk with the Khaplang group and NNC? We will not stand in the way, but we will not be a party to it”, P.V Narasimha Rao had replied: “Why should I talk with them? The issue is not with them. The issue is with you. The people are with you, and so if we talk with you, we believe a solution can be worked out. I will not talk with others. I know who they are. They are in my hands.” Clearly, Indian patronage was running out for Khaplang.
The government’s new interlocutor, R.N Ravi, is a former intelligence officer. He has been involved in the North-East for a long time and was an architect of the policy of keeping the insurgents divided which was premised on a vision of a fractured Naga society of ferociously independent militarised tribes. He now seems to be skeptical of his earlier policy. Ravi has made known his differences over the Home Ministry’s moves to isolate Khaplang, which precipitated the ‘K’ group leader’s decision to abrogate the 14-year-old ceasefire. In particular, cross border adventurism has been questioned especially in view of Khaplang’s “protected” status in Myanmar and the likely high risk consequences for Indo-Myanmar diplomatic relations.
It is apparent that the Naga civil society has also not completely accepted the total margina-lisation of the Khaplang faction. They are also aware, and the Khaplang faction’s June 4, 2015 military ambush of the Dogra Regiment in Manipur’s Chandel district shows, that the Khaplang faction would continue to demonstrate its presence and relevance. That is precisely the reason why the Naga civil society is stressing on the need to once again try and get the outfit back on the road to peace. The Naga Mother’s Association has already gone across the border into Myanmar and met with the leaders of the Khaplang faction. The All Naga Hoho is now preparing to send another delegation to meet with Khaplang. It is clear, that unlike the NSCN-IM, which is keen on keeping Khaplang outside the peace process, the larger body of the Naga civil society is interested in making it an all-inclusive process. While the NNC and its various factions and the breakaway group of the Khaplang faction of the NSCN may not present a serious security problem, the main Khaplang faction which is located inside Myanmar will continue to be a source of problem particularly as long as the situation of the Nagas in Myanmar is not settled to their satisfaction.
Integration of Naga Inhabited Areas
Now let us look at the other demand—the integration of all Naga inhabited areas within the Indian territory under one political adminis-trative set-up: Nagalim. Speaking on this issue at the 69th Independence Day celebrations of the Nagas in Dimapur, Muivah did not address the integration issue directly. He said the framework agreement would pave the way for the final accord. He also promised that “all Naga groups and stakeholders would be consulted before the final deal is done”. He further said: “Nagas will have their rights, but we should also respect the rights of the neighbouring States.” Muivah talking about Nagas respecting the rights of neighbouring States adds an interesting twist to the Naga demand for integration of the Naga inhabited areas which had emerged as one of the core demands not only of the NSCN-IM but that of the Naga communities living in and outside the Nagaland State. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while announcing the peace deal with the NSCN-IM, had indicated that the final solution rested on a breakthrough formula which did not involve redrawing the State’s borders.
It is an old demand and figures in the succession of peace agreements to resolve the Naga conflict—the Akbar Hydari Agreement of 1947, the Sixteen Point Agreement of 1960 establishing the Nagaland State and the Shillong Accord 1975 which precipitated the emergence of the NSCN. In fact the demand for unification goes back to the last days of the British Raj. The Naga National League (NNL), headed by Athiko Daiho was organised in September 1946 to consolidate the Nagas of Manipur in order to bring together the Naga people separated by the colonial boundaries. In the colonial period, the Political Department of the British Crown administered the Naga areas of Manipur. The Manipur Maharaja and his durbar administered the valley areas. The Naga League had categorically asserted that they will not remain in Manipur after the departure of the British. The movement had demanded merger with the Nagas Hill district of Assam. The Manipuri Nagas had boycotted the preparation of the electoral rolls in the Naga areas and the election to the first Legislative Assembly of Manipur in 1948.
One of the first resolutions adopted by the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) in 1957 had demanded the integration of all Naga areas.This was followed by the Mokokchung Convention of the NPC in 1959, where the Sixteen-Point memorandum was adopted. Clause 13 of the 16-Point Agreement stressed for the consolidation of contiguous Naga areas. The Nagaland State Legislative Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 12, 1964 which said that: “It is hereby unanimously resolved that the Govern-ment of India be urged for the integration of the Naga areas adjoining the State of Nagaland to fulfill the aspirations by the Naga peoples’ Convention held at Mokokchong in 1959.” The Nagaland Legislative Assembly has adopted similar resolutions on several occasions.
If we may recollect, before the formation of Manipur as a full-fledged State in the Indian Union, the Naga Integration Committee (NIC) of Manipur had made several efforts to seek integration of the Naga area of Manipur with the State of Nagaland. The Naga People of Manipur, which was formed in 1970 at its first convention held at Mao Gate, had unanimously resolved that the Naga people wanted to “live together in one State has undoubtedly been motivated by genuine patriotic urge”. The Naga Integration Central Committee (NICC) under the leadership of Rev. Savino and T. Chuba, with its headquarter at Kohima, was formed for the integration of all the contiguous Naga areas. It had appointed an Action Committee which included Rani Guidiliu, who had joined the Congress party. November 20 was adopted as “Naga Integration Day” to be observed through-out the Naga areas.
The NICC delegation had submitted a Memo-randum to Smt Indira Gandhi on November 9, 1970. The memo claimed that the movement of the integration of Naga territories, was nearly as old as the freedom movement in India. The movement gained momentum under the leadership of Rani Guidiliu which was in essence against the British Government that kept the Nagas divided into Naga Hills, Manipur and North Cachar of Assam. Even after the formation of Manipur State, the Naga Inte-gration Central Committee (NICC) had appealed to the Government of India and the Naga leaders to lose no time in resuming the negotiations, and had warned that protracted uncertainty and insecurity would have the most harmful effect on the material, mental and moral well-being of the Nagas, as well as on the whole North- Eastern region of India.
The past three-and-a-half decades’ experience shows that the exclusion of more than a million Nagas spread across the territories of Manipur, Assam and NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh in the Indian Union from the Nagaland State created instability and reinforced violence. Curiously, both Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh were at the time under the Central Government’s control and the redrawing of the State boundaries would have been less of a democracy flashpoint then.
Today, “integration” of the Naga peoples has emerged as a core issue, while the cartographic anxiety of the neighbouring States—Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur—present serious political obstacles.
India’s approach to the Naga peopleso far has been dominated by the colonial anthropological assumptions about the fixedness of tribal identity, which prevents the possibility of the development of socially cohesive “people”-based democratic politics and nation-building. This view has guided all the peace accords/ ceasefire agreements. These agreements have produced betrayal, division and renewed cycles of conflict which have made the Naga people wary of peace. Students of conflict resolution and peace studies have termed the Naga peace accords of1947, 1960 and 1975 as ‘accords of discord’ which divided the armed struggle and precipitated greater violence. In particular, the 1960 Naga Peace Accord, which laid the template for the grand strategy of devolving power to ethnic homelands, resulted in territorially and ideologically dividing the movement.
One of the significant achievements of the 18-year-long ceasefire and the peace process is it provided security and freedom for the Naga civil society to interact and give expression to their ideas. The civil society actors also interacted with the insurgents often on terms of equality, sometimes even questioned them, which was unthinkable earlier. Giving up the demand for sovereignty, the Nagas have had to redefine their concept of Naga nationalism. They have moved away from the inward looking politics of “unification and nation building” to the politics of building a multi-ethnic Naga political community. The demand for inclusion is driven more by the promise of rights and entitlements than by ethnic or tribal affinity. The outcrop of such new demands as the Eastern Nagas’ demand of the Frontier Nagaland state or the Southern Nagas demand of an Alternative Arrangement suggests the need for a more complex reading as it reflects a “a geo-political” framing that transcends tribal lines. Logically, the next step would be to locate the political organisations—the IM and K groups, less with tribes and more within the context of geopolitics of the region, the ‘K’ faction with its Eastern Nagas linkages, while the I-M group has strong roots in Nagaland and the Manipur hill districts. The division is Eastern, Western and Southern Nagas.
The consensus among the political theorists was that with increasing modernisation and communication, more particularistic identities would eventually be eroded or would be sub-merged into national identities. However, the experience of post-Second World War modern state shows that instead of abandoning their traditional ethnic identities in the quest for socio-economic and political equality, ethnic groups have retained them along the way. Even when they have made it to the top, ethnicity continues to be an important and meaningful source of identity for millions of people in the world.
Through the instrumentality of the “Pan-Naga Government” the NSCN-IM is promising control over a larger land mass, access to greater resources and the security of numbers to resist Central intervention. This cannot happen with-out the cooperation of the Indian Government and, more important, without the cooperation of the political parties.
A noted film-maker and the Secretary-General of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), the author was also the General Secretary of The Other Media, an organisation set up to support people’s movements in India. During his tenure as the General Secretary of the organisation, he undertook several peace missions to Nagaland and established contacts with the Naga underground; he was thus able to win the confidence of the Naga leaders. His interventions finally led to the establishment of a dialogue forum between the Naga underground leaders and leaders of the Naga civil society; this process of dialogue was nurtured by The Other Media, which created a North-East Solidarity Forum that brought leading civil rights activists from different parts of India to Nagaland to work together on human rights and peace issues. A noted film-maker and the Secretary-General of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), the author was also the General Secretary of The Other Media, an organisation set up to support people’s movements in India. During his tenure as the General Secretary of the organisation, he undertook several peace missions to Nagaland and established contacts with the Naga underground; he was thus able to win the confidence of the Naga leaders. His interventions finally led to the establishment of a dialogue forum between the Naga underground leaders and leaders of the Naga civil society; this process of dialogue was nurtured by The Other Media, which created a North-East Solidarity Forum that brought leading civil rights activists from different parts of India to Nagaland to work together on human rights and peace issues.