Kohima: A day after over 200 people started off the Walkathon from Dimapur against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), protestors reached the Raj Bhavan in Kohima where their demands in the form of a memorandum were submitted to the Prime Minister through the office of the governor of Nagaland.
“We kept our machetes away and marched peacefully, fighting against our oppressors in a non-violent way. The public has risen and taken public leadership. How will India respond to our non-violent protest? Isn’t India ashamed of the draconian law?” questioned Kevitho Kera, one of the organizers of the Walkathon.
The protest comes after AFSPA was extended in the whole of Nagaland for another six months despite mass protests across Nagaland and the Northeast region following the Mon massacre where 14 civilians were gunned down by security forces.
The March began on Monday morning from Dimapur and the protestors reached Kohima on Tuesday evening after covering over 70 km on foot.
“We started our journey because we are demanding justice for our brothers. When we got to know that we had to walk to walk from Dimapur to Kohima, we were totally on it and we wanted to stand for our Naga brothers,” 22-year-old Sharen Thingpia, one of the three females who covered the whole journey on foot told EastMojo.
As she expressed solidarity, she added, “We stand here as a Naga daughter. It has been a historic March. Some of us got injured along the way but it is our determination that brought us here. We are fighting for justice and we will fight till the end.”
Standing among protestors outside the Kohima Raj Bhavan, she urged the need for the government to take a step before another incident like the Mon massacre happens in the state.
Tsujang M, a 26-year-old female participant said, “Three of us females made it here from the starting point because of our willpower. We remembered the victims in our prayers but we also wanted to sacrifice physically and be part of the march. We appeal to the government to repeal AFSPA.”
S Kossam, a male protestor, in conversation with EastMojo said “We made it here with much difficulty. I’m even unable to speak properly. The March comprised of many people from different walks of life who did not think about any personal benefits. Through the journey, we only want to let the Union govt know that Nagas are suffering. But we are brave and we stand in solidarity. The government must understand our grievances and sentiments.”
Rosemary Dzüvichü, adviser of the Naga Mothers’ Association, while addressing the gathering said, “We stand in protest against the sons of Oting and against the killing of the and death of so many over the decades. We, as mothers, we grief and share your sorrow.”
Saying that the youth is going to make a difference for the Nagas, she said that it is time for youth to lead. “It was the youth who came up with the idea to walk, like the olden days, and till the Raj Bhavan. The question here is – Is the Raj Bhavan listening? Is the government listening?,” Dzüvichü questioned.
AFSPA is an inhuman law and is a law that violates every human universal rights that Nagas also enjoy, she said, further slamming the Government of India’s “colonial” attitude towards the Nagas.
What are its demands?
The Naga protestors demanded that the Centre take cognizance of the “serious human rights crime” committed by the Indian Armed force in the recent Oting killing incident by delivering justice and that the perpetrators be brought under civil court for criminal prosecution, and immediate and adequate compensation be given to tbr families of tbe victims and those injured.
They also demanded that AFSPA 1958 be repealed in toto from Nagaland and the North East.
One of its demands stated that the government must take cognizance of past atrocities committed by the armed forces and victims or their families be compensated. In this regard regard, they demanded that the perpetrators be brought under civil court for criminal procedures.
They also demanded that the state government’s role of handling law and order of the state be recognised, and make provisions that AFSPA will not be enforced I Nagaland.
The memorandum was signed by the Global Naga Forum (GNF), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), Eastern Nagaland People’s Union Dimapur, and Konyak Union Dimapur.
Several tribal bodies and civil society organisations took part in the protest. Many protestors also joined the Walkathon in Kohima.
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