‘Women are equal stakeholders in Naga political process’
DIMAPUR, DECEMBER 5: The Naga Mothers Association (NMA) has accused Nagaland Governor, RN Ravi, who is also the Government of India’s Interlocutor to the Naga peace process, of ignoring Naga women’s wish for peace and early settlement to the protracted Indo-Naga political issue.
Reacting to Ravi’s statement in his Nagaland Statehood Day message that “the traditional village institutions and tribal bodies are the primary stakeholders in the Naga political issue”, the NMA said the Governor’s statement “shows his complete ignorance, in not realizing, that Naga women are equal stakeholders in the Naga political process.”
“Naga women over the years have walked the talk, trudging into deep jungles and areas untrodden, by many traditional village institutions and few tribe leaders, in search of our armed brothers for peace. Therefore, it is highly questionable, that the esteemed representative of the Government of India, has not taken cognizance of Naga women’s expressed wishes for peace and an early settlement, inclusive of all NPGs, for the future of our children in all Naga areas,” it said.
Stating that with its slogan “Shed No More Blood”, the NMA has worked for years to bring peace and create better understanding through dialogues, whether it be with armed brothers or with successive Governors, Union Home Ministers, Primes Ministers of India, over the decades, the Association said, “Never in our history have we seen such intolerance and arrogance from Indian leaders, as reflected in this instant case. The language of peace begins with mutual respect and this must be maintained by the Hon’ble Governor, who is not only the Head of state, but involved in bringing peace to our Naga areas.”
Reminding that history of other peace processes around the world clearly proves that when women’s voices are not counted and goes unheard by negotiators, peace is not sustained and peace processes break down, the NMA questioned why there is such disrespect to the primary stakeholders in the Governor’s message, who are also Naga women, the other half of the Naga population in all Naga areas.
Expressing deep displeasure at Ravi’s statement, the NMA said, “The fifty-eight years of statehood for Nagaland, through the reminder of the 16-Point Agreement, and yet, here we are, still caught in the throes of militarization, armed conflicts, violence against women, deep corruption in governance, lack of accountability, exclusion of women in decision making bodies and violations of citizens’ rights to basic amenities. We have faced a long peace process that has taken so many precious lives, a peace process that threatens to break, with vested people, intent on creating differences and bringing Nagas to their knees
“As mothers and women, who are half the Naga population, we have struggled alongside our men and brothers, in war and peace, and as we stand on the threshold of a new understanding of peace between the GoI and the Naga people at the cross road to a historic peace, the Governor’s patronizing speech has proved, there is great disrespect to our history and the thousands who have marched and died under our Naga flag. The Naga flag is not a flag of the Naga Political Groups, it is a flag revered in remembrance of our struggle, a living symbol of our political belief and our Naga identity. Nagas are not a confused race of people, we are well aware of our history, so are the women, who have faced the brunt of Indian militarization and its unimaginable atrocities, under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act for decades.”
Stating that it is expected that an official address from the Head of the State, who carries the responsibility of being the Interlocutor, should have not have been accompanied by dire warnings of wrath or threats to the Nagas, especially Naga women, who have suffered so much under the impunity of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act since 1958, much before statehood, the NMA urged the Prime Minister of India to ensure that there is measured words of peace and respect for the Naga people, including Naga women from the office of the Raj Bhavan.
“We look towards an early inclusive peace settlement that brings peace and justice to all Naga areas,” it added.
(Page News Service)