The protracted Indo-Naga peace-talk is a dear issue the Nagas are sincerely praying for. The signing of the Framework Agreement on 3rd August, 2015 has brought a ray of hope for an amicable settlement. The talks being held at the highest level and looking at the current situation, we believe that the two governments are serious. We bestow our trust to the people on the negotiating table and meantime pray for the Godly wisdom to prevail.
While reposing our faith to the Government of India at the highest level, we the common people are sometime compelled to doubt the sincerity of the Indian government when their security agencies at the ground level behave roguishly. Sometime we are put to doubt if the actions of the Indian armed forces are hidden directives from the centre to create situations, or the personnel are simply misbehaving for the reason best known to them. Many may consider it to be pity matter when security forces terrorise the innocent and helpless people but we should be reminded that in a political instable environment, even a small sparks can sometime ruin all the concerted efforts.
The general public are becoming impatience with the activities of the Indian armed securities. The stories of harassment are daily affairs in the land of the Nagas regardless of the arbitrary boundaries. Advertisements, acknowledgements and press releases of some good works of the Indian military can be often seen in newspapers. Some are worth appreciating while some are nothing but neurotically seeking for praises. The culture of gift in the form of drinks to some Naga leaders to extract necessary information is also another valuable work. I fail to understand why deep down in the heart of the Indian men in camouflages still consider the Nagas as a threat and enemy.
While busy displaying the good side of Indian armies to the world, they failed to acknowledge and listen to the silent sufferings of the common people. Many share their fateful incidents while many prefer to keep it within the family’s kitchen. Many don’t talk because the harassment continues. We are no longer safe to even travel freely in our own backyard. The Nagas while respecting the peace-talk, the Indian military have created a war like situation every time they wanted to. What need it is to terrorise innocent civilians when there is actually no problem at all. Many of the Indian military officers might have assumed the Nagas to be easy. Had there been no ceasefire, the outsiders visiting Nagalim in camouflage would have had a different story to share. Enduring the pain, the Nagas are fervently hoping for the solution so that we may all live together in peace.
The video of the “Swaach Bharat” campaign by Indian Army at Mokokchung (Nagaland) that went viral a year ago must be still vivid to many of the officers who have the courage to feel shame. In the video, the jawans were busy acting to be cleaning the school campus after littering it by themselves. A beautiful game plan busted by the school authorities. In the name of promoting cleanliness, Indian armies dirtied a very clean school compound and were actively sweeping with the expression of concern, trying to show the world that the place was very dirty. And that is the same policy use by the Indian armies in dealing with the innocent Naga civilians. Terrorise the unarmed and powerless civilian to the brink of one’s limit and when the person try to assert for one’s dignity, he/she is considered as a threat. Many think that the reign of terror comes from the Naga insurgencies. But it is an unmistakeable fact that it is started by the India armed forces. Many condemns the insurgencies but few asks why the insurgencies?
I came back home last year after staying at Delhi for eight years. Only now, after having firsthand experience, I realise the hardship common people face every moment of their lives. On the late-night of 2nd December, 2016 my car broke down at AH 1, near Tadubi village (Senapati). I was heading home with a friend and two elders after attending the Federal Assembly of the Naga Students’ Federation, held at Lake Shilloi (Phek). With no means left to repair the car at that wee-hour and above all with no network at that particular area at that moment, we were standing outside discussing what to do. A group of Indian army was patrolling the highway, it was a moment of relief with the hope that if lucky, the armies might be of help. But it happens the other way round. Seeing the helplessness of us and fully knowing our conditions of being harmless, the jawans began to provoke us. Me being little fluent in Hindi than my friends I replied.
Finding no fault of us, they stood with us for some minutes. And in that silent moment, came a jawan yelling at me saying, “Aapko nahipata, yaha itna problem hain? Itni raatko kyakar raheho, jal se jal chalejao.” I replied “Sir, gaadi kharab hain, isliye dost ka intazaar karraha hoon.” In good faith I was still expecting sympathy but he just came and pushed me and another jawans punched me on my right chink. And when I screamed, I was told to freeze and keep quite with an AK47 on my temple, whereas others were ordered not to move neither open our mouth. They abused me over my religion (Christianity) they abused me of my creed, they abused me of my identity and they took total advantage of our Helplessness. After everything, they just laugh and simply walk away as if nothing happen at all. I made complaints to the higher authorities of the Indian armed forces, only to be tricked and disheartened saying that none of their men patrolled at that hour. With much disappointment, I was made to assumed that ISIS came patrolling National Highway in Indian securities uniform.
On several occasions, I have encountered Indian Armies sometime lazily and sometime aggressively (acting like a war-like-situation) stopping vehicles and asking shitty questions besides the regular body frisking, car checking and queries. So jobless that they even ask for Aadhar Card even after checking Driving License, read vehicle manual book after checking vehicle documents, ask the conditions of the vehicle, asked what curry I eat, with what income I bought my vehicle, my educational qualification, my marital status, the reasons for the various stickers on the windshield, why use more than one mobile handset (sometime asking to switch on and off the mobile), why that scare on the body, etc. It was disheartening to learn that famine struck Nagas from the east were asked to produce Aadhar Card while on the way to seek rations. Not exactly the same fate but I was also stopped by Indian Armies just to ask for Aadhar Card and when failed they question why I don’t have one as an Indian. The fact is, as a Naga it would be rather a shame to even have Aadhar Card. Some might think these are petty issues, but these petty issues are to provoke and create issues from a non-issue.
I am privileged to have travelled till the extreme north of India and to many major cities of India. My experience of the Indian militaries in the north is very fascinating. They are like a chicken in the borders, to be scolded by taxi drivers and villagers. And in the cities, their uniform does not attract any attention from passers-by. While in the north-eastern part of India, they act to be the boss off everything. Assam Rifles call themselves “Friends of the Northeast” – “Friends of the Hills” yet they behave like “Enemy to the Northeast.” The attitude of wannabe lion will someday surely creates a situation where even the peace loving Indian army officers and Nagas will not be able to pacify if anything goes out of hand.
May be, the Indian militaries stationed at Nagalim have forgotten what their Government is doing at New Delhi. Or, may be, because in the eye of the Indians (both public & militaries) Nagas are seeing as their enemy. Or, may be, it is an order from the centre to discreetly terrorise the civilians, create a situation and foil the peace-talk. I wonder when will the Indian start considering the Nagas as friend and also a good neighbour. Only God and the men in camouflages with the badge of tri-colours will have the answer!
(Author lives in Senapati Bazaar, Senapati and can be contacted at Email: email@example.com)