37th Remembrance Day of Infamous Oinam Incident Held

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Senapati: The 37th remembrance day of Onae Reh Dah “Operation Bluebird” (Oinam incident of 1987) organized by the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) was held at SM Sha Hall, Rikhumai Taphou, Senapati on Tuesday.

Z. Neikuo Lhousa, former Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) vice president (1987-1989), graced the occasion as the special invitee. In his speech, Lhousa said that the Oinam incident of 1987 was an infamous event for the Indian Army and the Government of India. However, for the Nagas, it was a victory day as the world came to know who the Nagas are.

Lhousa, who was the vice president of NSF during the Oinam incident, narrated how he and the NSF president, as part of a goodwill mission team on the way to Oinam village, were not allowed to proceed by the Indian Army. They went to Imphal and, upon returning, were arrested by the Indian Army at Karong and detained for six days and six nights. Lhousa shared how the Indian Army and intelligence were after him.

Related | 37th Remembrance Day of Infamous Oinam Incident Held

The special invitee emphasized the need to stay together with neighbors, relatives, enemies, and one another peacefully, despite differences. He challenged the gathering to do something for the nation when they have the opportunity, lest they regret it later.

Joyson Mazamo, convenor of NPMHR (south), in his opening remarks, said that 37 years ago, beginning this day in 1987, at Oinam and surrounding villages, a reign of terror was unleashed under the code name “Operation Bluebird.” This operation showed the world that the dignity and lives of fellow human beings did not matter. He informed that 27 persons were murdered and many more died subsequently as a result of severe torture. Three women were raped, five women were sexually assaulted, two women were forced to give birth in the open ground in front of jawans, 340 persons were tortured, 125 houses were burned down, 172 houses were dismantled, 10 churches were dismantled, six schools were dismantled, and all paddy fields were destroyed by cattle because villagers were grouped together in concentration camps for days.

Mazamo stated that the judgment of the prolonged litigation in the Indian court, which began on October 5, 1987, never came. The judges who were chosen to deliver the verdict were posted out when all due processes of litigation were completed in 1992. He said that after a long gap and with great difficulty, following sustained efforts from their end, the case was recalled in 2018 and an order was obtained for an “Enquiry Committee” within three months, but it was never constituted.

He said that the continued imposition of AFSPA 1958 has led to heinous crimes of all kinds, like rape, torture, burning villages, and killings of Nagas in hundreds. Many were killed prior to the wrath of “Operation Bluebird” and many more later. He recalled that the Oting incident in Mon district, Nagaland, reminded them of the perilous circumstances at present. He said the past experiences show the futility of brute force exerted and that their resolve will grow stronger with each passing day. Their oppressors will understand that nothing is too much to pay for their birthrights and freedom. He said their ancestors endured humiliation but made the best choices in trying circumstances, and it’s their visions that guide them.

The NPMHR convenor reminded the gathering that they are winning as long as they choose to do what they are doing and are responsible to win over their aspirations. He challenged them to continue walking together for justice and the future liberation of both the oppressor and the oppressed. He saluted the martyrs and all those victims who survived and shared the pain and anguish. He said they can forgive those responsible for committing crimes against them but will never forget. He also saluted all victims of the Naga national movements, giving the highest regard and respect, noting that their martyrdom is the guiding light that will take them toward the ultimate goal: freedom for all humankind.

Solidarity messages were delivered by various Naga organizations like the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), United Naga Council (UNC), Angami Youth Organization (AYO), Chakhesang Youth Front (CYF), Rengma Selo Zi (RSZ), Sumi Youth Organization (SYO), All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), and Naga Women Union (NWU). They said their sacrifices will be remembered and saluted the victims, noting that their blood and tears will continue to inspire in the days to come. They pledged to stand together for the cause of Nagas to become stronger and better.

Paul Leo, former president of the United Naga Council (UNC), in his closing remarks, narrated how innocent villagers suffered after the incident of July 9, 1987, and the case filed in the high court with different lawyers and the effort over the years to deliver justice for the victims.

The program was chaired by Isaac Charenamei. The invocation prayer was said by Rev. Fr. William Nepuni, principal of St. Xavier College Maram Khunou, Senapati. A tribute to the martyrs was observed, special songs were presented by Kachuiwon Hungyo and Rewben Mashangva, a Naga folk musician, a victory chant was led by the chairman, and the closing prayer was said by Salew Kumuo, pastor of Mao Baptist Church, Senapati.

The program was attended by around 150 members from different Naga tribes, including from Nagaland.

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