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VICTORY IS NOT EASY TO BUY

S.C. Jamirís departure from power in Nagaland ó after the Congressís election defeat this month ó has removed some hurdles in solving the Naga problem. Jamir was the biggest hurdle in the progress of the peace talks between the government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah).

His ally, the armed National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang), unable to stomach his defeat, has threatened to assassinate 17 of the 38 legislators of the new ruling combine, the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland.

The elections were not wholly free and fair. To retain power, the Congress used money and violence freely. Others followed the same line of resistance.

Jamirís opposition to the peace talks was apparently based on two points: that the Naga problem had already been solved by the 1960 agreement which created the state of Nagaland, and that a new agreement with just one Naga organization would not be acceptable to others. The hidden point, however, was that a settlement with the NSCN(I-M) would end the possibility of Jamir ever regaining leadership.

Dangerous rift

Though the NSCN(K), which some people call the private army of Jamir, is quite capable of killing, its military and political position has been weakened by the departure of its patron from power. Earlier reports had said that funds flowing to it from Jamir enabled it to buy new and more weapons from the market on the Burmese border.

The NSCN(K) used to be part of the NSCN, from which it split some 10 years ago to oppose what it alleged was the changed policy of the parent body to come to a settlement with the government of India by giving up the demand for Naga independence. The personal differences between S.S. Khaplang, originally the vice-president of the outfit, and Thuingaleng Muivah, the general secretary, and Isak Chisi Swu, the chairman, also contributed to the rift.

The intimidation and threats began with Jamirís desire to return to the state assembly unopposed. To achieve that, his Ungma village council passed a resolution prohibiting anyone from contesting against him and threatened those who dared oppose with fines and expulsion from the village. When Chubala, the wife of Nagalandís first chief minister, filed her papers, the houses of her supporters were attacked.

Empty coffers

Jamir had almost a year ago sought sanction and money from the Union home ministry for raising two Indian reserve battalions. Jamirís men were placed on election duty in his Ao-Naga area and Dimapur, in which he planned to capture all 14 seats. According to opposition parties, these men, who indulged in violence in support of Jamirís candidates, were directly controlled by him. It led to the demand for their removal from election duties.

Votersí slips for whole families to vote together, instead of individual identity cards, were seized and made use of in proxy voting. In Zuhneboto, 400 state policemen attacked and damaged the deputy commissionerís office, while in Arkakong, the number of people who had voted was 13 more than the total number of voters ó most voting for the Congress candidate.

Violence in 34 voting stations resulted in the cancellation of polls, electronic voting machines were destroyed in 15 stations and 19 booths were captured.

The Guwahati high court, on January 31, cancelled four work orders worth Rs 29 crore issued by the Nagaland government. It was believed that government leaders had released the funds to obtain kickbacks for election expenses. The opposition parties alleged that Jamir had released another Rs 30 crore during the election period for the same purpose.

So much government funds was spent that the state treasury is now virtually empty. Nagaland has a fiscal deficit of Rs 400 crore and debts totalling Rs 1,700 crore. Unless the Centre bails it out, it may not have money to pay salaries and pensions.

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