NSF & NESO asserts to continue the fight till justice is delivered
KOHIMA, DECEMBER 17: Thousands of Nagas students and youths today joined the “Peoples’ Rally” demanding immediate justice for the killing of 14 innocent civilians by security forces, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s public apology and immediate repeal of AFSPA.
The rally was organized by Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) in solidarity with the Konyak Nagas tribe to which the 14 civilians killed by security forces belonged and also reviving the demand for removal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Nagaland and the North Eastern State.
The protestors, mostly higher secondary schools and college students and tribal organizations in Kohima, as well as representatives of the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) converged at Old MLA Hostel junction here.
Although the NSF had not made any call for shutting of business establishments, shops in and around the rally venue remained closed till the protest was over.
The NSF volunteers and participants held banners and placards some of which read: “Nagas are not terrorists”, “Ban AFSPA, not our voice”, “AFSPA rears devil in Indian Army”, “Nagas want peace not atrocities”, “Solution not AFSPA”, “Stop the undeclared war upon civilians”, “Stop dehumanizing Nagas”, “Justice for Oting victims”.
As the protestors rallied through the town till Raj Bhavan, they also shouted slogans demanding justice for Oting killing victims, removal of AFSPA and also security forces to leave the Naga areas.
At Raj Bhavan, the NSF president Kegwayhun Tep, Peoples’ Rally organizing committee convener Vipopal Kintso, along with NESO Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya and others, submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister Nerandra Modi to Commissioner and Secretary to Governor’s Secretariat Nagaland, T Mhabemo Yanthan in the absence of the Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi.
Through the memorandum, the NSF demanded for immediate repeal of AFSPA 1958 and justice for all victims of army excesses committed by the Indian Armed forces.
Highlighting the grim story of AFSPA in Naga homeland, the NSF told the Prime Minister that “the very India that prides itself to be the world’s largest democracy has adopted for itself the very repressive, oppressive and inhuman instrument to subjugate a people much against their will and aspiration”.
The AFSPA (as amended in 1972 and 1986) has empowered the Indian military and paramilitary war machines with unlimited powers to extend their evil claws and judicial impunity to arrest, torture, kill and to commit everything inhuman, it said.
Expressing that the Nagas have been suffering from the colonial mindset of the Indian Government and continues to suffer for 60 years and more, they said “We have seen almost all our villages and fields burnt down several times, our womenfolk and mothers disgraced, our menfolk arrested without warrant or jailed without trial, our histories re-written and our indigenous and cultural practices spat upon and degraded, by Indian armies”.
The simplicity of the life and the joys of Nagas have been terribly exposed to the frustration of colonialism, the sinews of 3-4 generations have been made to crawl under the shadows of death and psychological warfare. And yet, we have never failed ourselves thus far, they said.
Every time the dignity of livelihood, existence, freedom and happiness is trampled upon without any remorse by the Indian Government agencies – these perpetrators receive medals, awards, and honour for every Naga the Indian Government war machines kill, arrest, rape, loot or torture and they continue to be free from any legal prosecution, the Federation said.
The students’ body decried that AFSPA 1958, which has been imposed upon Nagas birth-rights ever since Indo-Naga conflict started, protects and defends the Indian military and intelligence personnel for violating human rights and security, in clear contravention of existing international standings on war ethics, human rights, and entitlements, to which India is also a signatory.
“It no longer remains a myth that the AFSPA rears the devil in the Indian armed forces personnel whose acts of impunity continue unabated as the draconian Act continues to shield them from being held accountable for their nefarious actions”, said NSF.
In the memorandum, they also chronologically cited some of the brutal incidents perpetrated by Indian armed forces against the Nagas, as follows:
September 1960 Pochury Black Day: (Phor village, Yisi village & Matikhrü village) – On September 1, 1960, six Civilians from Phor village were tortured to death, and on September 3, 1960 another three civilians from Yisi village were beaten to death. Whereas, another 9 innocent lives were taken by the 16th Punjab Regiment and their death bodies were dumped inside the village chief’s house and burned down along with other houses and granaries. Within a span of one week 18 innocent lives were lost. To this day, September 6 is observed as “BLACK DAY” by the people of Pochury tribe.
December 9, 1970: Cheswezy – 18 girls and 9 married women were mass raped by the Indian Troops and 53 women were molested.
July 11, 1971: Yenkeli – Armies sacrilegiously raped 4 teenage girls at the pulpit of a church, for the Nagas the church is a sacred institution and such profanity is not tolerated. Till today, the church remains forlorn. In 1956, before AFSPA came into force, this village was burned down to ashes and the whole villagers were made to hide in the jungles till 1959.
January 8, 1987: Sheanghah Mokok – 13 civilians from Sheanghah Mokok village were ambushed by the Indian armed force while returning from the field. Three civilians were declared spot dead while 10 were gravely injured. Despite declaring themselves as civilians the Indian armed forces did not hesitate to shoot at them.
July 9, 1987: Oinam – OPERATION BLUEBIRD was launched by the 21 Assam Rifles on July 9, 1987, which lasted till October 1987. 27 Persons were killed, 3e women were raped and 5 women sexually molested. More than 300 persons were tortured by the 21 Assam Rifles. 125 residential houses were burned, 112 houses were dismantled, 6 Schools and 10 Churches were dismantled.
December 27, 1994: Mokokchung – 7 civilians were gunned down, another 5 were burned alive including one infant, and more than a dozen individuals went missing. 89 shops, 48 houses, 17 vehicles and 7 two-wheelers were razed to ashes, excluding those destroyed by gunfire and shelling.
January 26, 1995; Akuluto – A young mother, breast-feeding her 1-year-old baby, was shot dead while fracturing the arm of the baby.
March 5, 1995: Kohima – Kohima Town was under siege for 2 hours by the 16th Rashtriya Rifles consequent to a tyre bursting from their own convoy. 7 persons including 2 minor girls of 3-and-half-0years and 8-year-old child were killed, 22 persons injured by shrapnels and bullets, 15 physically assaulted and 22 persons were arrested and tortured. Out of the total victims, 14 were women.
August 15, 1996: Tseminyu – The 17 Assam Rifles forcibly gathered the menfolk from Tseminyu South village at RSA Ground and were brutally tortured at gun point. 1006 live ammunition were reportedly fired and 3 hand grenades were hurled at the innocent civilians. Miraculously none of them exploded. Four innocent civilians were killed including a student. Over the years, those who survived the incident gradually succumbed to their physical injuries.
July 16, 2015: Wuzu – Two minor students, Master Tuzali and Miss Aso were killed and one pregnant mother named Esther was injured in the indiscriminate firing of the 46th Assam Rifles C’ Coy of Akhegwo post under the command of Major Surinder Singh.
December 4, 2021: Oting – While 8 innocent coal miners were returning home from a mining site, 6 civilians were brutally killed in cold blood in broad daylight while 2 were gravely injured by the 21 Para Forces of the Indian Army. Another 7 civilians who belonged to the search party were mercilessly killed on that fateful evening. On the following day, another civilian was killed while protesting against the atrocious act perpetrated by the Armed forces.
The above-mentioned dehumanizing and atrocious acts committed upon the Naga people by the Indian armed forces are the just tip of an iceberg with its base spread across the entire ocean floor, it said adding that given an opportunity, the Federation is more than willing to present a detailed and comprehensive report at any appointed time.
In this, the NSF said it is at the least appalling to see those trained to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India indulging in target practices on the innocent Naga civilians instead of serving the very purpose for which they are trained for.
The audacity of some Indian leaders coming out publicly to defend the atrocious acts and thereby legitimizing the murders, tortures, rapes, molestations, etc., upon the innocent Naga civilians and botched army operations has been deeply hurting the sentiments of the Naga people while also flaring up our emotions, it said.
“This blatant attempt to finish the Naga race through an undeclared war cannot be accepted, come what may”, it said.
The NSF representing the aspirations and the voices of the Naga younger generations, spread across 4 Indian States and 2 international countries (India and Myanmar), through memorandum made 3 core demands, seeking the prompt attention and intervention of the Prime Minister.
They asked for immediate justice for the Oting victims and expedite judgments and delivery of justice to all pending cases related to excesses committed by the Indian armed forces upon Nagas; Immediate repeal of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and expedite Naga Political solution.
On Naga political solutions, the NSF said that Nagas in the course of standing for their unique history and pursuing the common goal have suffered enough.
The sacrifices of many Nagas whether dead or alive were not a struggle for Naga identity alone but it is also a struggle for self determination, a struggle against the imposition of alien culture and values upon the Nagas, they said.
The NSF made it ‘crystal clear’ that economic packages or monetary assistance cannot purchase the rights of the Naga people.
“The envisaged solution must be mutually agreed upon on the negotiating table and not an imposed one”, it said while also asking the Government of India not to hesitate from allowing the Naga people to retain their legitimate rights.
“We appeal in the greater interest of the Nagas and other communities and the Indian Nation to impartially and honourably deliberate the issues emerging from the situation in order to usher in an era of peace through optimum utilisation of your political will”, it said.
The copy of the memorandum was also addressed to the Personal Secretary to the President of India and the Governor and Chief Minister of Nagaland for information.
Entire North East tribals behind Nagas: NESO
Earlier, during the rally extending solidarity message NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said Nagas are not alone in the fight for justice and removal of AFSPA, but indigenous people of the entire North East region are together with Nagas.
Lashing out at the statement of the Union Minister Amit Shah in Parliament, he asked Shah to withdraw the misleading statement and also to make a public apology.
The message should be clear to the Central Government that this is not the problem of Nagaland alone but the entire North East, he said, adding that “though the people are divided into States, our heart and soul are one”.
AFSPA must be repealed not only from Nagaland but from the entire North East region, he said while asserting that NESO, along with other student bodies of the region, will continue the movement till justice is delivered.
He asked the Government of India to tell the people of the region how many more lives it wants to repeal AFSPA and he would be the first to give his life.
Bhattacharya also demanded exemplary punishment against the killers of the 14 innocent civilians in Oting and Mon.
Angami Public Organisation Vice President Neivor Rutsa said Nagas have been under the shadow of AFSPA for too long whereby enough bloods have been shed.
Demanding that the blood thirsty draconian law should be removed immediately, he said “If Delhi does not consider Nagas as their own good citizens then leave us alone to have our own future”.
He also made a clarion call to all Nagas within and outside the State to stand together to embark on a new journey of our own.
NSF president Kegwayhun Tep said Nagas are utterly shocked, angered, in grief and in disbelief beyond words at the extrajudicial and mindless act of terrorism committed by the armed forces of the Government of India upon the peaceful civilians in our Naga Homeland.
Offering deepest condolences to the family members of the departed souls whose lives were brutally massacred, Tep said “though we have lost our beloved sons of the soil, it is our prayer and our comfort that the noble souls are at peace with our Almighty God”.
Their death will not be in vain, he said, adding that Naga youths and the upcoming generation shall continue to honour their memories by carrying forward the aspirations of the Naga people through generations to come.
Tep also asserted that the NSF would continue the fight till justice is delivered and AFSPA is repealed.
Forum for Naga Reconciliation member Dr P Ngully shared people’s message while ‘Nagas under the yoke of AFSPA’ was narrated by Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights secretary general Neingulo Krome, ‘Pain of a Mother in the conflict zone’ by Prof Rosemary Dzuvichu and the ‘Oting story’ by Eastern NSF vice president Sepikyu J Sangtam.
Chaired by Organising Committee convener Vipopal Kintso. the rally commenced with prayer by Kohima Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship president Dr Kevichalie Metha while Oriental Theological Seminary presented Healing of our spirit and T Penthungo Lotha – Blowing in the wind. NSG general secretary Siipuni Ng Philo tendered the vote of thanks.
(Page News Service)