We cannot guarantee safety of candidates

20-chuba-ozukum Chuba Ozukum | Salil Bera

Interview/ Chuba Ozukum, president, Naga Tribal Ho Ho

Why boycott the assembly polls?

We were left with no option. We have been waiting for the result of the talks between the Centre and the NSCN(IM). But, there has been no announcement even after so many rounds of talks. We asked [the Centre] to defer the polls till the result comes out, as it will change the political structure of Nagaland.

Will there be a change of leadership if the result is made public?

Yes, of course. We will have a new government and a new leadership.

But, political parties have decided to contest the polls.

They cannot do that. The agreement [they signed] clearly says that those who contest the elections will be termed anti-Naga, and that they will face consequences.

What consequences?

They will be socially boycotted and their fate will be in the people’s hands.

Are their lives at stake?

We are nonviolent. But, we cannot guarantee the safety of candidates, because the people are angry.

Why have you become so impatient?

The Indian government has been giving us sermons on peace talks for years. But, what is the outcome? Shall we sit idle and ruin our future just for the sake of an ongoing talk?

The government may not agree to certain demands.

Then, the Indian government should tell us that it would not be able to do anything. We will then chalk out our own course of action.

What will be your course of action?

That the Indian government would know.

What about aspirations of the people?

We want a separate, autonomous state for the Nagas. The NSCN(IM) signed a peace treaty with the Modi government, which means that the talks would be under the provisions of the Indian Constitution. They demanded a separate flag and separate passports, legal provisions and financial status.

Is all that possible under the Constitution?

Of course. If Kashmir could get it [autonomous status] under Article 370, why not we?

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The Week

Topics : #Nagaland | #elections

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