The Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) coming down heavily on the government of Manipur in the backdrop of the recent notification served through its DCs in the Naga Hills villages to celebrate 75th Independence Day, said that such notification is a mockery and that it directly challenges the Naga people and its movement. “The hostility cannot be more direct and evident and is further confirmed by the violence and intimidation in different quarters of Naga Hills as they commemorate Naga Independence Day on 14 August,” NPMHR pointed out.
The statement issued on Sunday said that the cacophony in the hills and plains of Manipur is marked by two distinct pandemonium; the continued “state oppression from the plain” and of “resistance in the hills.”
Underlining the pressure point, NPMHR said that “the Indigenous Peoples in Manipur and in particular the Nagas are fighting not just the Indian state but layers of oppression emanating from hegemony of politics, power and worldview that is the reverse from the values and worldview the Naga people hold.”
It then went on to say, using strong words that the attempt to appropriate Naga’s land, its material, culture and the bid to “decimate the Nagas” through various means including unfair representation; deep rooted centralization of power and institutions; enactment of different Acts and laws against the autonomy and rights of the Nagas is not a new project but it has a long history in Manipur. Sadly, it has been one of the modes that keep the dominant community united and together.
NPMHR setting the record straight reaffirmed that land does not belong to the state – “Land for the Nagas is sovereign. We are its custodians and stewards.” Drawing distinction between the hills and the plains, the Rights group pointed out thus, “This is what sets the Indigenous Peoples apart from other communities and from the dominant discourse and understanding of land. The Naga movement for right to self-determination is a testament of this distinct worldview,” it reminded.
The statement further more said that the options are few to address the cacophony in the hills and plains. One solution NPMHR proposed is “to respectfully co-exist or to be in perpetual loggerheads.”
Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights in its own words concluded saying, “We as human rights groups chose peaceful co-existence but this demands respect, clear boundary and fairness. We hope these will be heeded so that we can all walk towards a liberating future.”