36th Remembrance Day of infamous Oinam ‘Operation Bluebird’ observed at Asufii Auditorium, Punanamei

Senapati: The 36th Remembrance Day of the infamous Operation Bluebird, Oinam incident of 1987 was observed at Asufii Auditorium, Punanamei (Mao) on Sunday. The event was jointly organised by the Poumai Naga Union (PNU) and Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR).

Recap of Operation Bluebird by Joyson Mazhamo, convenor, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (South) stated that following the attack on the Assam Rifles outpost at Oinam Hill village, Senapati district on July 9 in 1987, the Indian armed forces launched the infamous Operation Bluebird to recover the looted arms and ammunition. The operation virtually turned Oinam Hill and more than 30 other villages in its vicinity into concentration camps and prisons. Many women were physically and sexually abused, 27 persons killed and hundreds severely tortured with many dying subsequently as a result. It remains as one of the most brutal and horrific cases of systematic violation of Human rights committed by Indian Security Forces.

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On October 5, 1987, despite immense pressure and threat to their personal safety, members of the NPMHR filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Guwahati High Court on behalf of the people of Oinam Hill and it’s surrounding villages. The petition before the court sought, amongst others, action against the Indian Security forces for murder, manslaughter, infliction of grievous injuries, rape and sexual harassment, arson, looting and theft, wanton destruction of public and private properties including school buildings, illegal evictions, raids and seizures, illegal detentions, arrests and forced labour, desecration of religious places, etc. These incidents were documented and placed before the court and due process for final hearing has also been initiated. However, in 1992, the two Judges appointed to deliver the verdict were hastily transferred and the case remains with no judgement even to this day.
Due to persistent persecution against human rights workers, ever shrinking democratic space, disillusionment with the justice delivery system and shortage of financial resources etc have reportedly discouraged to pursue the case till date. However, with great difficulties, the PIL petition was reiniated in November, 2018 at the High Court of Manipur in Imphal and the same Court has directed the Home Secretary, Govt of Manipur to set up an “Enquiry Committee” within three months time to look into the matter in its order of June 13, 2019. NPMHR is stated to be conscious of the need for ensuring that justice is delivered to the victims and a grim situation of such nature and magnitude is not repeated anywhere in the future, added Joyson Mazhamo.

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Giving the victim’s story, Ngulani, ex-chairman, Oinam Hill village stated that story of the incident cannot be narrated in just 2-3 hours time. It would take more than a month to narrate all the pains the villagers had borne that continued for 4 years. All of a sudden without the knowledge of any villager, Assam Rifle outpost at Oinam Hill village was attacked at mid noon of July 9 in 1987. Hearing the sound of the gun shots, all villagers returned home from respective fields. Security forces from outside filled the village within short time and called to detention at village ground. Torture, harassment, infliction of grievous injuries, manslaughter and murder followed in the village and it’s vicinity, he recalled. The village elder urged upon all Nagas to unite and fight together till justice is done.

Neingulo Krome, secretary general, NPMHR in his tribute and looking ahead said that similar to Oinam incident, different such incidents occur at different places where women were raped, forced to give birth in public view — everyone feels pain in the heart. Every time the Oinam incident is observed, he said that people are reminded of the many such incidents that people had experienced in the land. Oting incident happened just 2 years ago. God has created the Nagas as a separate and distinct people, a nation of their own which has been denied by the oppressors. The Britishers in the guise of giving merchandise imprisoned the people. The consequences of people who came as a friend like the Assam Rifles who called themselves as “Friends of the Hills” did not live by it for the people.

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Talking on the sidelines of the Indo-Naga political issue, NPMHR leader stated that when ceasefire came in 1997 and negotiations started, Government of India offered Bhutan status to the Nagas during the initial year of negotiations. Naga leaders promptly declined the proposal claiming to have Naga status alone and not other similar status. Later on, sami model was also offered but it had stated that the Nagas already have sami model. Issues like flag and constitution have cropped up which were non issue when the Framework Agreement was signed, now it has become a sticking point. Nagas have stated not to demand anything from India when the Nagas have their own arrangements like own flag and constitution. Every village or every football team also has its own constitution to govern.

A moment of silence was observed by all participants in honour of the victims at the beginning of the program.

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UNC, NWU, ANSAM, NPO, SDSA and federating units, SDWA, Tribe Hohos, Oinam Hill village authority and others participated at the program.

A candle light vigil was also organised at Khabung Karong in the evening relating to the observation.

Briefing media, Asahrii Clement, president, Poumai Naga Students Union (PNTM) stated that the candle light vigil and mass prayer was organised by the Poumai youth and students under the banner of the Poumai Naga Students Union in collaboration with Senapati district students association and the federating units. The main intention of organising the candle light vigil is to tell to the neighbors, the Indian paramilitary that the wrongdoings they have done to the forefathers, to the people of the region in 1987 might have been forgiven but the younger generation, the Naga youngsters shall not forget all the atrocities caused to the people.

The president also reaffirmed their stance and principle that the younger generation shall in no way entertain/associate or cooperate with the Indian Paramilitary or armed forces until justice is delivered to the victims.

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