By Songthu Raymond Chongloi
When Sadar Hills districthood issue begins to catch th e headlines of some regional dailies I felt the need of understanding some of my Naga colleagues mindsets on the deadlock. The reason : several Naga organisation came in chorus warning another communal flare up in the state; like the one witnessed some two decades ago.
So, without disclosing my identity in detail I approach a Naga student leader if I am new to the issue. Before going deeper on the topic we briefly chatted. In the meantime I came to know that he was an active member of the church during his stay in Imphal, and did not hide being consulted often on every subject of the Nagas there in Manipur.
Then we proceeded. He spoke a lot about the Nagas love for independence,the rich cultural and traditional heritage,the extend of territories ,the historical records. etc.etc. which I find more to do with the Angamis ,Semas ,Lothas and Konyaks. On being enquired anything worth mentioning about the Manipur Nagas contribution towards the movement,he begins with the breakup of the NSCN in the 1980s,and keep on glorifying every action taken up by Sir Th Muivah. He continued,and blame the the Indian government for the Nagas ethnic cleansing drive on the Kukis in 1993.He also fired several accusations against the intelligence agencies for fueling the war. At some point of the interaction he was almost willing to admit that the government agencies collude with the Naga outfits.
Taking advantage of his statement I went deeper referring to the involvement of intelligent agencies in 1993 clash; the license issuance of about 600 single barrel guns by the then Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul just before the outbreak of the clash,the accusation made against Chief Minister, Shri Rishang Keishing, as on the governor`s report that time,and some more. Interestingly as expected, he strongly disapproved .Instead he blamed the media for maligning the image of the Nagas. Then without a pause, he jumped over to the Sadar Hills issue which I too find more worthy to be discussed than the bygone years. As in the case of the war,he put a heavy load on the media. Also criticize the state government attitude against the Nagas. He continued,”there are nine districts in Manipur of which five are hill districts ,and the remaining four districs are dominated by the Meiteis. Out of the five hill districts one belongs to the Kukis and the other four belongs to the Nagas. This is not a propaganda but fact. If you need datas its with me,”he assures.
While he was totally lost on the topic I calmly opened my bag;took out a map of Manipur indicating the proposed map of Greater Nagaland, and showed to him with a wink on my eyes. With that he exclaimed:` that’s our long cherished dream…., “he took the map and have a surprise look on it.
And next –a map of Manipur indicating Senapati district and Sadar Hills in different shades. I showed at him. As expected his mood totally change all of a sudden. He was so disappointed, yet maintains his calm. “From where did you get that,” is his query on the map to me. He continued,”we believe in respecting others sentiment. So people ought to respect ours . In the event of declaration of Sadar Hills as a full fledge revenue district without Nagas consent …bloodshed is inevitable. All to be borne by the state government there. This is all we need to understand.,”he warned.
Now I put some of my queries and his replies:
Query:If Sadar Hills has been include d in the proposed map of Greater Nagaland, it could still be a Naga district even if it is declared a full fledged district?Am I right?
Reply:Not so. Sadar Hills , off course ,is dominated by the Kukis . I don’t think people favour merging it with the proposed Nagaland. The Kukis have been in the forefront opposing the Nagas movement now and then. For your knowledge Sadar Hills has been much apart of our ancestral land. This is a fact.
Query: Respecting other sentiment is one that Nagas believe. So if the Nagas continue this hell-bend attitude over the district hood status, would not it amount to disrespecting ones right ,especially the Kukis?
Reply: No. Respecting others right in no way mean giving away our land to somebody. We have the right to protect our land. We must not be divide by inimical forces.
Query: Then how far would you agree and prove that Sadar Hills is the land of the Nagas? Can you point me some fact or more importantly of its history on defence against foreign invaders-the British?
With this question,it seems,he was blown out of the cold. To my surprise he smiles at his cellphone that never rings; and inquired me to repeat the question complaining the language jargon. In doing so he pleaded,”such questions need an elaborate understanding on history. He keep on with little stumbling ,”those questions are to be asked to our leaders. Its out of my knowledge”. That was how we end the discussion,which perhaps,begins lively but ended without much to appreciate on the claims and stance of the Nagas. Well. As we go through the above interaction,I believe,one may be confused over a Naga leader attitude toward their Christian brethren. Surprisingly,if a leader who claims to be so God-fearing have a warlike attitude to someone then one can easily guess the perception the general Naga population ought to posses? The reason I penned this.
Now from the Christianity perspective. Some years back we have celebrated the joy of attaining a centenary-100th year of the arrival of Christianity in Manipur. It was expected that Christianity attains much maturity than before. However much against our expectation things seems to be murkier with the advancing years. The relationship one community maintains over the other is not going to wane easily. This is evident from the present crisis we face and the press statements issued against the other targeting the lesser privileged. To be little persuasive over the present demand I would like to set some record straight in the interest of all.
The Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act, 1971 has a provision for creation of six autonomous districts of which Sadar Hills autonomous council was one among them. Therefore, the question of bifurcating Senapati of carving parts of the district to form Sadar
Hills never arise. The provision was made for administrative convenience; the same case that Senapati have. Under such circumstances Nagas communal tone over the issue is something hard to digest. Reason in defense may vary,but one may be pointed out. The sanctioned district has a mix population. No particular community could claim suzerainty over it. Off course the Kuki groups maintains the majority status with Nepali,Naga and Meitei community filling the leftover composition. But there is nothing to be so much to be alarmed off. Implanting fear to the general public is never to be encouraged.
One assumption may be, Naga leader fear of similar repercussions of what they did to the minority Kukis in the areas where they hold majority two decades back! If so,the Kukis stance on Sadar hills issue till date is clear-there is no communal tone from Kuki civil organisation like Kuki Inpi , KSO etc, except KPF statement rebuking Naga civil society stance on the issue. Such is a clear indication that there is no hidden political agenda from the side of Kukis.
Instead it is the general populace who wholly back the move. To keep in mind, the trend of one community dominating a district is a normal trend we have in the present day administration,yet we don’t find any ill consequences a result of such demarcation. Instead a mixed population is believe to have provided a better social environment due to intermingling of different colours. This also have proved to broadens one`s mindset to a large extend.
Taking advantage of the presence of a fraction of Nagas land with a scattered population of about 10%, Sadar Hills has been included in what is called the homeland of the Nagas thereby forcefully ignoring the rightful claims of the Sadar Hillites. As understood,the idea of gaining control of Sadar Hills is not a recent origin. The first open attempt came in the form of ethnic cleansing drive against the Kukis who constitute the bulk of the area, in 1993. To the disappointment of Naga leaders things could not be materialized as planned. Thank God!
The second such attempt came: the present deadlock. Never mind,our human mindsets are such that we don’t feel being bad as long as things are in our favour; but act harshly on things which deviates slightly against our wish. This type of perception full of egos –me,myself-is never to be found in the principle of the Christian faith. Rather it tells us to love our neighbor as we love thyself.
Beloved Naga Christians must sense this. While we tries to grab somebody`s right to make up our dreamland-Nagalim, we don’t want an inch of Nagas land to be included in an already sanctioned district which neither means separation or secession. These are the ills that infest Naga nation. It is a society where give and take,compromise and accommodation have no meaning.
We professed to live a life on the principle of a Christian faith which encompasses brotherhood of all mankind. Often,the verbatim like forgiveness,confession,do good,accommodation,peace loving and mutual understanding became the refrain in the church which is never put into practice. While our lip service are sweet with the word of God,our hearts are filled with nothing but greed;our motives are self drive,our mindsets are preoccupied with war, bloodshed and hatred.
So ,until we develop a sense of sympathy for others we have no reason to tell the world –we are proud to be a children of the Lord. Rising up his name without upholding the principles of the Christian faith will only tantamount to insult on the Savior. The sweet motto like `Nagalim for Christ” has been used far and wide these days ,however, the banner has been used only to invite hatred upon the Naga society,and more importantly the church image.
Let peace prevail !!
Writer can be contacted at [email protected]