Kohima: The GPRN/NSCN on Thursday responded to the controversy around the viral video and photographs of a newly-wed couple brandishing sophisticated firearms during their wedding reception in Dimapur recently.
While saying that the “harmless wedding photo has been abused and criminalised”, it accused the Indian media of smelling “blood” over the viral photo.
A press communique issued by the MIP, GPRN/NSCN, titled “Enough of witch hunt on wedding photo: GPRN/NSCN”, said that “overcame by boyhood emotion and thrill of wanting to hold a real weapon on his most significant day”, the groom, after all the guests had left, “requested his father’s security guards to let him and his ladylove click photos with permitted weapons”.
It said that the groom’s father, Bohota Kiba, top leader of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Unification (NSCN-U) faction, is a “Red category Identity Card” holder, meaning he is entitled to “use two weapons for personal safety”.
Saying that the photos which were taken in a “private space with few family members around” circulated on social media, it added, “The Indian media smelled blood as the viral photo of the newly married couple posing with automatic weapons created a storm. Indian TV channels finally realised there was life in Nagaland!”
It questioned where were the “social media warriors, mainland print and electronic media” when Dimapur was devastated by floods recently that left thousands homeless.
“Now a single harmless wedding photo has been abused and criminalised as though the bride and the groom have brought down another World Trade Centre or the most elusive dreaded terrorist couple were caught in a wedding dress with assault rifles,” it said.
The statement then added: “Indian judiciary and legal system seems to have caught up with the young couple. A witch hunt has been set into motion.”
Adding that in few days, the GPRN/NSCN can “produce thousands of pictures of non-national workers Nagas, ranging from ten years to seventy years of age both men and women, who have proudly posed with exact or more lethal weapons than the ones used by the bride and the groom”, it questioned: “Will the authorities go after everyone who have posed with weapons and prosecute them in equal manner, book them and seize their weapons? Hundreds of weapons of various shapes and calibres are hand held, clicked and uploaded onto social media daily in Nagaland and other parts, how many have been arrested thus far?”
“The point is, none of these men and women intended or intend to unleash terror in Nagaland or elsewhere. Toy guns and Naga children, aided by revolutionary movement, have been natural friends and law should not interpret a wedding day photo with guns, admittedly an error of judgment, into a crime against Indian state,” it said.
It expressed that “law must exist to protect citizens” and “should not demonise and brand spontaneous wedding photos as terrorist acts”.
“Gun culture became necessary because Nagas had to defend their land against forceful occupation, spear, machete were our early weapons and our culture but Nagas had to upgrade themselves to arms because primitive weapons could not help us defend our land,” the statement said.
It concluded, saying: “Gun culture must end, and as the Governor rightly stated, ‘it is unacceptable’, the GPRN / NSCN and the Naga people do agree that honourable and acceptable political solution to Indo-Naga political problem will surely end gun culture the moment long-awaited solution is arrived.”