New Delhi: Early Saturday afternoon, the 2-km road from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi turned into a mini Kohima when about 3,000 Nagas marched to protest the stalemate over their long-pending aspirations.
Dressed in traditional jackets and sporting shawls and scarves bearing tribal motifs and necklaces, demonstrators in their 20s shouted slogans demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP northeastern states in-charge Ram Madhav, and deputy national security advisor and Naga talks interlocutor RN Ravi intervention for an early resolutions of their demands.
The total population of the state of Nagaland is a little over 2.8 million. Various Naga ethnic groups are also spread out across the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Therefore, the number might look impressive if one takes into consideration the fact that the total number of Nagas in the Delhi NCR is unofficially estimated to be merely around 40,000.
Addressing the gathering, director, South Asian Forum for Human Rights, Tapan Bose observed, “The so-called peace process that has been going on the past two-and-half decades, remains stalled. The only peace we have had was during the ceasefire.”
Bose was also very critical of the sweeping powers granted to the lowest ranking officer of Asssam Rifles to take into custody anyone and search a place without warrant in the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram. However, as per recent media reports, Centre has put the notification on hold for the moment for review.
Also speaking on the occasion, secretary general, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, Neingulo Krome said, “Today you have shown to government of India that it has tested your patience enough. Since ceasefire, we have had one generation Nagas who didn’t understand politics. But today you’ve shown that you are more than sincere.”
He went on to talk about how successive federal governments had failed the Nagas in the last 70 years.
When quizzed by a journalist if holding the march just ahead of the general elections likely in April had a political motive, Krome rejected the claim outright.
One of the organisers of the event told EastMojo that the mobilisation for the march had started during Christmas with the active involvement of several church groups from the state. Therefore, they were expecting a much higher outcome.