In an interview with Ananya Dutta, senior Congress leader S. C. Jamir, who has served as the Chief Minister of Nagaland for more than ten years, says any solution to the Naga problem should be within the Indian constitution.
What are the main issues in the upcoming elections?
This election is a watershed in the lives of the Naga people. For the last ten years, the people witnessed a complete derailment of governance under the Naga People’s Front. You will find that security of life and property are completely absent. The rule of law, which is the bedrock of democratic society, is not at all visible in Nagaland.
It is sad that an elected government under the Constitution of India is being run through remote control by the secessionist groups.
Would you say that there is peace in the State today, after 15 years of ceasefire?
The way the ceasefire is being observed is a paradox. What does ceasefire mean? Cessation of hostilities in any form; killing is not the only form. Extortion, intimidation and kidnapping are also violations of ceasefire. But they continue.
There has been complete chaos because neither the law enforcing agencies nor the civil authority can exercise their legal and constitutional obligations for the maintenance of law and order.
The main reason why the Naga political problem has lingered for so long is that the Centre is suspicious and mistrustful of the Neiphiu Rio government.
What about the issue of integration of Naga areas in the neighbouring states?
This is not possible now. In a democratic society, you must try to win the goodwill of the people of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. But they went with armed cadres, set up camps, threatened them and frightened them. So Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh said we will not part with an inch of land. Without land how will you have your integration?