The Chakhesang traditional shawls were showcased during Suraj Kund crafts mela in February this year Credit: Facebook

Kohima: The Chakhesang Women Welfare Society (CWWS) has filed a civil suit against fashion designer Ritu Beri and the Tribal Co-Operative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd (TRIFED) under the Union ministry of tribal affairs for damage and infringement of registered Geographical Indications (GI) of two Naga shawls.

The civil suit was filed in the Court of District Judge, Phek, Nagaland on September 7 by the CWWS. On February 7 this year, the Chakhesang traditional shawls were showcased during Suraj Kund crafts mela held under the theme “Naturally North East: the Naga Narrative”.

On behalf of the CWWS, Nezelu Nyekha, the acting executive director, said that the show has caused “irreparable damage” and has “distorted the identity of the traditional shawls which are GI registered.

She said that the two shawls — ‘Rira’ and ‘Rura’ — are “woven and designed with deep rooted meanings since time immemorial”. Rira is a men shawl which is worn with dignity. Rura is a feminine version of Rira worn by women.

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A screen grab of the GI tagged shawls

The civil suit claimed of “damages for wrongful and illegal action for infringement of registered GI”. She informed that the on September 7, the court has issued summoned to Defendants Ritu Beri, and the TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India giving them a months’ time to be filed for written statements.

The CWWS has earlier condemned the misuse of the tribe’s traditional wears. The Chakhesang Women Welfare Society informed that the Chakhesang shawls have already been registered under GI and that “without due approval and consent from registered proprietor the said shawls/patterns cannot be used by any individuals/ designers/ society/ government”.

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