A massive “peoples rally” was conducted by Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) in collaboration with Naga Students’ Union, Delhi (NSUD), under the theme “Call for Peace” in New Delhi on Saturday.
“Nagas call for peace in its essence is simple; it is a prayer for harmonious and peaceful coexistence. It is a symbol of our inherent desire to pursue building peace, both within and without,” NSF president Kegwayhun Tep said.
Speaking at the rally in the national capital, Tep urged the Centre to honour its political commitment, adding that there be only one solution as there is only one Indo-Naga political problem.
He said the proposed political settlement which should be inclusive, honourable and acceptable, recognising the Naga people’s identity, should be brought to its logical conclusion at the earliest.
On behalf of the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), Fabiola Chinir highlighted the killings and atrocities committed by the Indian armed forces in the Naga homeland.
“Today, we call upon the Government of India to honour the peace negotiations and bring about sustainable peace in our Naga homeland by an honorable, acceptable and inclusive solution at the earliest. The Naga Mothers called for recognition of our Naga Flag under which thousands have marched and laid down their lives and a working Constitution that will protect our Naga identity of social, cultural traditions and practices, basic Naga laws, our land and resources,” the NMA said.
The Naga Mothers also reiterated their demand for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) “which has violated every form of human rights in the Naga homeland”.
General Secretary of the Naga Hoho, K Elu Ndang, called on the Prime Minister of India not to backtrack from his commitment in resolving the Naga issue. The Naga Hoho also appealed to “all communities and nationalities in India to extend their fullest support in resolving the decades old protracted Indo-Naga political issue”.
From the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), Gentleson Vashum said that the experience of yesteryears has shown India’s ability to accept the Naga historical and political rights.
This, he said, however, has resulted in what seems like an enduring stalemate where aspirations were conveniently side-lined and people turned into mute spectators.
“The Government of India’s quest for peace was fraught by political one-upmanship, political manoeuvring and political mismanagement which did not lead to any constructive, meaningful or transformative outcome. Rather, it led to a botched peace where Naga life was turned upside down and basic fundamental rights suppressed for decades,” Vashum said.
Dr Kh Pou of the Global Naga Forum (GNF) said Nagas are not anti-India. “What the Nagas have been doing, since the British left the sub-continent, is merely stand up for our birth-rights as human beings. Nagas wanted to safeguard our God-given autonomy and freedom in the lands of our birth, just like Indians and Burmese did in theirs. Nagas wanted no trouble with India or Myanmar,” Dr Pou said.
The Global Naga Forum stressed on an “inclusive and honorable” political solution for the Naga people and an honorable solution based on respect for Naga historical and political rights, official recognition of Naga Flag and the Constitution, inclusive solution, repeal of AFSPA and demilitarization of the region and complete autonomy in governance over all the ancestral Naga homeland.
President of All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM), Thirtung Wanglar said that Nagas “were placed under two nations and put under four states… arbitrarily divided the Nagas to suppress and repress our aspirations”.
Wanglar said that adversaries have been trying to divide and crush the Naga people with different design and schemes that suit their interest.
“They had drawn artificial boundaries, they militarized our land, they employed different economical packages and other means to subdue us. Despite all these, the Nagas have stood firm until today and shall remain as one people,” the student leader said.
Former Secretary General of South Asia Forum for Human Rights Tapan Bose, in his solidarity address, said that Nagas are “one of the most upright, honorable, compassionate and peace-loving people”.
General Secretary of Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy Vijayan MJ urged the Centre to adhere to the understanding and agreements reached with Naga groups. “Any betrayal of such commitments will only make South Asia more vulnerable to violence,” he said.
Secretary General of the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) Neingoulo Krome recalled the human rights violations and atrocities committed by the Indian armed force against the Naga people. “Naga history is written in blood, fire and ashes,” he said.
In recent years, he said that Nagas have become stooges of divisive politics, and so warned the youth not to be “caught up with ego – tribal egos, degree egos”.
The rally saw the participation of all the units of the Naga Students federation (NSF) and also the constituent units of NSUD along with members of Delhi Eastern Nagaland Students’ Union, Delhi (DENSU).
The event was chaired by Siipuni Ng Philo, General Secretary of the Naga Students’ Federation, and the rally concluded with mass sloganeering. The NSF also sent a representation to the government of India seeking urgent attention to the Indo-Naga political issue.
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