In an outspoken interview, where he has said many things that will annoy the Modi government but also Thuingaleng Muivah, Niketu Iralu has said that the failure of the Indian paramilitary forces to restore order in Nagaland seems “deliberate”.
Iralu is one of the most respected elder statesmen of the Naga community and the nephew of the legendary leader A.Z. Phizo.
Iralu said that the home minister’s delay coming to Manipur was a cause of great suspicion and concern, and done, he feels, deliberately. He also said that he suspects all of this is happening because the Union government is in some sense supporting the Meitei attacks on the Kuki community. Iralu added that the targeting of some 200 churches, including Meitei churches, raises suspicions that the RSS and other Hindutva forces are deliberately giving a religious colour to the troubles in Manipur.
In an interview with The Wire, Iralu questioned the total silence from Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Manipur. “Why is the prime minister not saying a word? Is he the prime minister only of the BJP? Or of all of India?” Iralu added that this is “a very dangerous situation for India”.
Speaking about fears and concerns in the North East that, after the abrogation of Article 370, Article 371, which protects the unique identity of several North Eastern States, could be similarly read down or abrogated, Iralu: said “It is our fear and despair”. Asked if a trust deficit is emerging between the North East and New Delhi, he bluntly answered “definitely”.
Iralu said that the abrogation of Article 370 was “vengeance”. He said “what happened in Kashmir is not worthy of India”. He said that the entire North East is worried that something similar could happen to Article 371.
Speaking about the stalled talks between the Modi government and Muivah and the NSCN, Mr. Iralu said that the NSCN demand for a separate constitution and separate flag as well as for greater Nagaland, all of which he said was justified, should, nonetheless, be put aside and put on a shelf and left for wiser generations and a more mature Indian parliament to handle.
He made it clear that the priority for Nagaland is development and to heal the hurt that various people and tribes feel. The issue of a separate constitution, a separate flag and greater Nagaland are not priorities and should be left for later generations to handle.
One explanation Iralu gave for this advice is that the Nagas cannot defeat the Indian army and, at the moment, the Indian parliament and the Indian government cannot handle the demand for a separate constitution or flag. That’s also true of the demand for greater Nagaland.