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The Naga-kuki clash of 1992 to 1997 has deep scars of fearful and painful memories for both the communities. The conflict brought so much of sufferings to both the communities on all sides of life. The violence of that time brought so much of miseries to individual’s life and communities at large. Many children became orphans, many parents lost their sons, many women became widows and many villages were burned down, forcing villagers to evacuate and fled to safer village or place. And as we remembered the horrendous incident 25 years after, it is but moments of regret and pain. How can we as people ever succumbed to such bestial carnage? The more one ponders upon the sad incident one is reminded of how thinly veiled our human sanity is, how little can an individual withstand the challenges forced upon each of us when faced with communal discourse that comesalong concealed with sense of community and loyalty to each tribe and communities.
The recent observation of Sahnit -Ni (Black day) by the Kuki community and the erection of three monoliths with the victims’ names written on all four sides as victims of ‘genocide’ and the hoards of leaders both secular and ecclesiasts takingpart and yet churning out different narratives for their participations speaks volumes about what has truly become of the horrible incident, when used by different people for their own justification. Can we both courageously do a truth-telling about how we have hurt each other A church minister after participating and taking part as the main speaker quoted love, forgiveness and brotherhood from the Bible. While certain kuki nationalist leaders took it as a perfect platform to further their demandfor Kuki homeland and other similar demands. As for the Memorial stone’s inscription, it clearly speaks of the festering collective emotions of abhorrence towards a certain tribe.
Forgetfully or so, it seems the inscription on the plaque carefully ignored or chose toignore the collective participation of the kukis and other naga tribe. And yet having used the occasion to paint the other as the perpetrator, the genocidal tribe, the questions still remains; can the branding of the Nagas as genocidal community cleansed the kukis of all their anguish and pain? Would it in anyway bring back the dead to life? Would such act of naming a tribe/community absolved the crime that both the parties committed during the carnage?For many of us the memory of looking back has become a ritual of reviving the old wounds to be scrutinized from the bitterest point of view, thus casting the “others” as the sole perpetrator.
Thus, entirely losing the point of knowing; What went wrong? What was the Madness? Rather than asking and accepting how deeply both the communities have dehumanized each other, killed each other, degraded each other-wherever and whoever it comes from in their madness? Thus, in the process, establishing a path to deep understanding and connection. Many villages of nagas and kuki were burnt down. Many died, and yet many survived from the journey of fearful death. We hear miraculous stories of how God in his Devine plan saved some of us and we hear stories of how they escaped from death. Our escapes, Our survivals are now stories of choices.
The miracle of having escaped from the jaw of death can now be either handed down to the younger generation throw our narratives to be ensnared in the web of hatred and bitterness or be an instrument in liberating ourselves from the bondage of bitterness and fear. Survivors of both sides definitely have a choice. The choice to inherit the horror or the choice of “forgiveness” as a living testament.Few years ago, a kuki brother came to visitour home and shared his story of how his only sister was killed during the naga - kuki clash. It was a painful story of loss and betrayal. For the first time my husband and I shed tears with a Kuki for his loss, though we have never been part ofthe conflict.
For the first time the loss was real and painful because our friend’s story was a journey of finding the truth about forgiveness. That friend opened up his heart and touched, and opened our hearts more when he admitted that he too felt sorry for those nagas whose loved ones’ lives were cut short by his own tribemen’s rifles and dao. It opened our eyes to see how deeply the love of Christ runs into this man’s heart- To feel pain yet to understand the pain of others. Suchabundant mentality to love and forgive when it is hard, not only brings healings for the self but it opens the eyes of by-standers like us, our own prejudices forothers.
Our friend could have taken the road of bitterness and hatred but rather took the restorative and healing approach to rebuilt relationships within his community and beyond. Our friend opened the first school for the village next to his village which was a Naga village. Rather than choosing to bury himself in the bitterness our friend chose hope and reconciliation.The memories of trauma continue to live on in us. It is now on us whether to nurture bitterness or hatred to the coming generation or to leave a courageous story of lesson learnt revealing the past wrongdoing and to move on in the hope of resolving left over from the past. It’s about time for all of us to help bring healings and reconciliation by uncovering the true inhumane act of and within ourselves.
It is time we engage each other more intentionally and more courageously to have an open conversation and talk about the truth of how we have hurt and killed each other and work towards repairing the harm caused to each other for complete healing and restored the relationships. Could we sit together and speak the truth of how we have harmed each other? And work towards repairing the harm caused toeach other.
(Eliza is an advocate base in New Delhi, She is a Director at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ) New Delhi)
16-Sep-2018 /Eliza Rumthao
Author: Eliza Rumthao