Close on the heels of the ushering in of
the State, efforts for peace for an amicable solution to the vexed political problems took
concrete and positive shape. In this venture for peace, the major role was taken by the Nagaland
Baptist Church Convention (NBCC). In its third Convention held
at Wokha from January 31 to February 2, 1964 which was said to have been attended by five
thousand representatives from all tribes of Nagaland, the NBCC made a historic resolution
welcoming the proposed "Peace-Talk" and to request the Government to make
available the services of Mr. Jayaprakesh Narayan, Mr. Shankar Deva, Mr. Bimala Prasad
Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott with the sole object of exploring ways & means for the
speedy restoration of peace and normalcy in Nagaland.
It was on the basis of this resolution that the historic
Peace Mission was formed with the aforesaid personalities. Mr.
Shankar Deva could not join the Peace Mission because of illness but the selfish and
tireless services rendered by Rev. Michael Scott, an Anglican Churchman, Mr. Jayaprakesh
Narayan, a devout Gandhian and a well known Sarvodaya leader, and Mr. B.P. Chaliha, the
then Chief Minister of Assam are all too well-known to us.
AGREEMENT FOR CESSATION OF FIRE
The relentless endeavor of the Peace Mission actively
supported by the church leaders headed by Rev. Longri Ao and the liberal help and
patronage of the State Government, had finally resulted in an agreement for Cessation of
Fire signed by the then Governor Mr. Vishnu Sahay, on behalf of the Government of India
and the Peace Mission while Mr. Zashei Huire, Mr. Biseto Medom and Mr. L. Benito had
signed on behalf of the underground government.
Even though the agreement was officially declared on September
6, 1964 by organising public meetings and special prayer meetings all over
Nagaland, the actual agreement was signed on May 23, 1964 at Sakraba
Village in Phek district. The "Cease-Fire" was welcomed by all
peace loving people of Nagaland and there was a general sigh of relief, hope and happiness
all around. September 6, 1964 was really a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving
for the people of Nagaland.
The declaration of "Cease-Fire" was followed by a
series of peace talks primarily between the members of the peace mission, the underground
leaders and team of peace observers. Eventually, the level of talks was raised and the
venue shifted to Delhi culminating in six rounds of talks in 1966 to 1967
between the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the underground leaders.
The first round was held on February 18-19 in New
Delhi and the underground delegation was led by Mr. Kughato Sukhai, their
"Prime Minister". The other members were Mr. Imkongmeren, "Vice
President", Mr. Issac Swu, "Foreign Secretary" and two others namely Mr. S.
Angami and Mr. Dallinamo. The final round of talk with the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira
Gandhi was held in New Delhi on October 3, 1967. In all peace talks in New Delhi,
the underground delegation was led by Mr. Kughato Sukhai. However, no positive agreement
could be reached as a result of these talks.
PERIOD OF UNCERTAINITY
The failure to settle the underground problem by the
preceding peace talks had created an air of uncertainty in the minds of the people. There
were charges and countercharges between the Security forces and the Insurgents for breach
of the terms of the agreement. On August 3, 1968, "Gen" Kaito, a
prominent underground leader, was assassinated in broad day light in the heart of Kohima
town. On August 8, 1972, the Chief Minister Mr. Hokishe Sema was ambushed by
the suspected undergrounds near Kohima. The Chief Minister had a miraculous escape without
any bodily harm but his daughter was seriously injured.
This was closely followed by two major developments of the
time. On August 31, 1972, the Government banned the three underground bodies
i.e The Naga National Council, the Naga Federal Government, and the Federal Army.
Secondly, the Government decided not to give extension to the Cessation of fire agreement
(cease fire) any more.
PEACE EFFORT RENEWED
Though the peace mission was dissolved when Rev. Michael
Scott left India in 1966 and the Peace Observer Team wound up with the
Cessation of cease fire in 1972, the efforts for peace was never really abandoned. The
Nagaland Peace Council (NPC) was formed again at the initiative of the Church leaders and
talks and discussion for peace continued. The effort was stepped up with renewed vigour
after the Presidents Rule was promulgated in March 1975.
In May, 1975 the Liaison Committee of the NPC, consisting
of Rev. Longri Ao, Kenneth Kerhuo, L. Lungalang, Dr. M. Aram and Lungshim Shaiza, had
initiated Mr. Kevi Yalley to come out as a "Contact Man" and was given
safe-conduct by Nagaland Government. Next the underground leaders selected six of their
representatives to have discussion with the Government. This was closely followed by a
series of five talks between the underground representatives and the Government
represented by the two advisers to the Governor, Mr. Z. Zopianga and Mr. Ramunny.
To cut a long story short, all these hectic discussion had
finally resulted in the historic "Shillong" signed at Shillong on November
11, 1975, by the Governor of Nagaland Mr. L.P Singh representing the Government of India
and the underground leadership represented by Mr. Assa and Mr. Kevi Yalley.
The signing of the Shillong Accord had ushered in a general
feeling of well-being all throughout and hope for peace and for a final solution of the
twenty year old conflict once again appeared in the horizon. The immediate result was a
large scale surrender of arms and personnel. The "villagers" themselves actively
cooperated by contacting and persuading their underground brother s and sisters to come
out and join the mainstream of life. Within no time, 5 districts of the State were move or
less cleared of the underground elements. From then onwards, there was practically no
problem of insurgency inside Nagaland and the peaceful atmosphere prevailed throughout
facilitating a spurt of development works for the people who were already neglected for
too long and suffered so much.
CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT 1997
Renewed spurts of violence have been witnessed in the State
from the middle of nineteen eighties. The fratricidal confrontations amongst the various
Naga groups and the State authorities led to loss of life, seriously disturbed the Public
order and thwarted the economic development of the State.
The people became disenchanted with the violence and
yearned for peace. The Government of India heeded to the wishes of the people and on 25
July, 1997, the Prime Minister, Mr. I. K.Gujral making a Statement in the Lok Sabha and
the Rajya Sabha announced that the Government after talks with Isaac-Muivah group of the
National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) declared a cease-fire or cessation of
operations with effect from I August, 1997 for a period of three months. The cease-fire
has since been extended.
The declaration of "cease-fire" was followed by
setting up of a Cease-fire Monitoring Cell to enforce the Ground Rules as laid down by
Government of India. Recently the ceasefire has been extended for another
year with effect from 1st August 2000.