Kohima: Hundreds of Nagas recently crossed borders walking all the way from Kohima in Nagaland to Senapati in Manipur where thousands conglomerated for a cause — the peaceful resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem.
“We declare the Naga Solidarity Walk of 2022 a necessary peaceful intervention in support of the Naga people’s right to live together in our ancestral homeland. The walk from Kohima to Tahamzan (Senapati) that we just completed is a hopeful physical enactment of a journey toward Naga Unity across the artificial barriers and boundaries put in our way by the powers that be,” the convenor of the ‘Naga Solidarity Walk Core Committee’, Vichutuolie Mere, said in a public statement.
The walk was organized by the ‘Global Naga Forum‘, a group of like-minded Nagas from across the globe. The two-day walk was held on July 28-29, under the theme “One people, one destiny”, with participants having braved the weather as they crossed the inter-state border on foot.
Mere highlighted that the Naga People repeatedly declared and defended their right to freedom and self-determination in their ancestral lands in battle and in writing against the British colonial occupation dating back to the 1870s and the Simon Commission in 1929.
Postcolonial India and Burma, he said, continue to impose colonial rule over their lands, and in gross violation of human and indigenous peoples’ rights, the Naga homeland lies separated into four states in India and a province in Myanmar, and that numerous lives were sacrificed in the struggle.
“We believe the time has come, yet again, to insist on an immediate peaceful resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem, which must include a constitutional structure and timetable for recognition and implementation of the Peoplehood of the Nagas in a self-determined governance system in an undivided ancestral homeland comprising all the Naga territories,” he added.
Mere hoped that the walk would lead to lasting peace and shared prosperity, without exceptions, throughout the Naga Homeland. “May we use the Naga Solidarity Walk for justice and noble pro-Naga causes, not against the legitimate rights of other people in India, Myanmar or elsewhere,” Mere added.
Co-convenor Professor Rosemary Dzuvichu said, “We won’t be walking for Naga Solidarity if we were united. The Naga Family is breaking apart from the stress put on us for too long from outside and from within. Physically separated from one another and politically divided, the Naga Family is growing farther apart and beginning to deny our own peoplehood. We are forgetting our common destiny.”
The other reason for the solidarity walk, she said, is to honour the ancestors by walking in their footsteps. “Our Naga ancestors from multiple language and cultural families walked the length and breadth of their respective territories for hundreds of years, possibly millennia,” she added.
Recalling the past, she said that European colonialism and modernity arrived in these parts and with that, colonial Britain and postcolonial India and Burma split up the Naga homeland for control of the lands and its ancestors.
Meanwhile, through a statement, GNF convener, Chuba Ozukum, and convener of the walk, Vichutuolie Mere, informed that the forum was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and generosity from every section of society and in different parts of the Naga areas.
In a gratitude note, the organisers acknowledged the Southern Angami Villages and Southern Angami Public Organization for providing breakfast and lunch for the participants, the Mao Council and Mao Students’ Union and its frontal organizations for the dinner, the Maram Union, Maram frontal organizations, Maram towns and Villages for hosting the participants with specially prepared dinner, breakfast and for the rest at night in Maram.
It also thanked the Poumai Naga Union and all the Poumai frontal organizations for preparing lunch for around 6,000 participants at Karong. Further, the forum thanked the Naga Peoples Organization, United Naga Council and Senapati District Students’ Association for providing logistics during the convergence at Tahamzan (Senapati).
“An event of this magnitude was made possible only through the participation of every tribal hoho, women organization, students and church organizations,” it said. The forum also acknowledged the Angami Students’ Union, All Naga Students’ Association Manipur, Arunachal Naga Students’ Federation, Eastern Naga Students Association (Myanmar) and Rengma Naga People’s Council (Assam) for their support.
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