SOME THOUGHTS ON THE FATE OF OUR EASTERN NAGA BROTHERS AND SISTERS
- Kaka D. Iralu, January 29, 2005
My journey into Eastern Nagaland (so-called Burmese Nagaland) was like a journey into the nineteenth century.
As we walked into Eastern Nagaland, we did not walk on black topped roads except footpaths winding across mountains, cliffs and gorges. A village that seemed to be so close from a mountain top, took several hours to reach, as one canyon after another canyon had to be walked, before we finally stumbled into the village – A village that seemed so close, but was in fact so far away. At times, when all the sinews and muscles in my body were screaming: “We can’t take it anymore,” my mouth also screamed “Where the hell is that village which I had seen three hours ago from the mountain top?”
At times, we started our journey at 6:00 A.M. from mountain caves and stumbled into villages at 9:00 P.M. – bone weary and soul weary… At such times, the sounds of barking dogs or crowing cocks were music to our ears because we realised we have finally reached human habitation after walking all day in semi darkness where the sun’s rays were denied their rightful light because of the thick forest coverage. When we reached the villages there were no light or even candles, as these are forsaken and forgotten Eastern parts of Nagaland, where the nineteenth century still reigns.
But everywhere we staggered in, we were greeted by friendly Naga brothers and sisters who brought chicken and rice to nourish our exhausted bodies. (One travelling couple even massaged my legs with ginseng, when I was lying sprawled on the footpath – too tired and weary to go on. And the dried venison they gave me tasted so good, I felt I had been treated to a royal dinner!)
Enthusiastic and willing porters carried all our baggage, so that I could walk unhampered with just a bamboo stick to assist my 100 kg weight. (I tell you – carrying a one hundred kilogram bag of rice from Nagaland to so-called Burma was no mean achievement!)
And then – when we reached the villages, the conversations started. They told me – “About fifty years ago, A.Z.Phizo entered our mountains and hills. He told us that though we are Changs, Yimchungers and Khiamniungans, we are all brothers of the same Naga family. We are a nation and we shall live independently. His speeches made sense, for we had all along felt that we are indeed a nation. Therefore, putting our fate on his words, we followed him. They went on to say – that discipleship however ended in many thousands of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters dying across half a century of agony and hardship. Yet they told me firmly that they would never abandon Phizo’s and the NNC’s path – whatever the cost.”
I felt ashamed because I am an Angami – and indeed, Angamis had blazed yesterday’s national destiny with the slogan URRA UVIE (Our land belong to us). I felt ashamed, because yesterday’s leaders are today cowering under their beds pursuing their own personal security and economic prosperity while these simple villagers were still carrying on the fight for our nation’s freedom.
When I staggered into that village, (I am sorry I cannot disclose the name of the village because they told me not to mention the name of their village for fear of Burmese reprisals) – bone tired and weary, I rested briefly and then staggered on to pay my respects at Major Neituolie’s grave. In 1980, when the NSCN was formed, Major Neituolie was shot by his own fellow Nagas in this village. They showed me the house where he ran out shouting “For heaven’s sake, please, let us not kill among ourselves.” But when the NSCN cadres started shooting at him, disregarding his plea, I was told, he further shouted: “Even if you must kill me, please don’t kill the civilians.”… They showed me the place where he, in anger fired back on the NSCN cadres and killed five soldiers. They also showed me the place where he fled into a stream where the NSCN’s bullets shattered his left arm. And they told me “After hiding his M21, he came out of the stream, and with his pistol, shot another two NSCN cadres here. But he was finally shot in the head and died where he stood to defend his honour and our honour.”
I was told by a young man of the village “This is the place where they (NSCN) dragged his body into the village ground and lectured us. This is what will happen to any Naga who stands for the NNC and A.Z.Phizo.”
Yes, I am angry with the Indian Government and the Burmese Government for what they have done to our people – but as I stood on Major Neituolie’s grave, I screamed my anger on my own people who killed my hero. After all, how can I hide my own crimes and scream at India and Burma for their crimes? That would be utter hypocrisy on my part.
Major Neituolie died (perhaps) at the age of thirty-five years. He was a Naga Major who gave his all and his best for the Naga nation – only to be finally silenced by a Naga bullet fired by a Naga finger.
On his tombstone are written these words “Gone; but will never be forgotten for his services to the nation…etc.” Beside his grave was that of his bodyguard – a Khiamniungan Naga who also died defending an Angami Naga.
Yes, I cried as I stood by their tombstones. Yes, I screamed “Neituolie you are not my clansman or my fellow villager. But I salute you because in your short life, you have made Angami name and Naga name. You are dead and gone, but I am still alive, and I will never allow your death to be in vain as long as there is breathe in me.”
In the evening, the villagers told me how fourteen of their villagers were killed by the NSCN. They told me, how after that, weeping mothers and children were deported to another village. I was also told how their village and livestock and their lives wealth of rice and millets were burnt to ashes by the NSCN. Yes, I was told that even sixty of their mithuns (Bos Frontalis) were shot by the NSCN – and that their forests stank so horribly from the smell of these rotting animals. I could only conclude that this was a systematic Marxist ideology that was determined to silence opposition through brutal and terror tactics.
I also saw neighbouring villages like Thingniungan and Chukie villages where over six hundred Khiamniungan villagers perished from these (LOCAL and not EXTERNAL) genocide of Nagas, by Nagas. I was also shown the Lainong region where the NSCN killed over eight hundred Naga fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters just for the simple reason that they stood for Phizo and the NNC. Fellow Nagas, I am not writing fiction – I can supply you the names of all these victims with their father’s names, dates of their deaths and the names of those who committed this internal genocidal sacrilege. I say this because after all these victims were not stones or woods or cows and pigs – No, they were all Naga human beings butchered by Naga guns. These simple villagers told me: “When this so and so leaders from Western Nagaland (meaning our side of Nagaland) came into our regions, we clothed them and fed them with the best of our clothes and our livestock, because we thought, they were our leaders. But this is what they did to us after we had fed and clothed them. They told me; they would never ever forgive these so and so’s.”
The tragedy of Naga history is that this “so and so’s” think their crimes would never be known by others. They think their crimes can be wiped out from the pages of Naga history, if they fast and proclaim Naga integration in the name of “Nagaland For Christ.” I for one will not be fooled by them even if, even some Reverends seems to have been fooled by them.
On my part I will scream: What greater aberration of law and justice can be pronounced, then for murderers to say to their victims: “Come and ask forgiveness from us, for we are willing to forgive you in the name of Jesus Christ”… No, I refuse to bow down to such desecration and mockery of right and wrong. And yes, I will scorn and laugh at any NGO’s who would render their support to such criminals who have transgressed the very essence of law and justice.
And in this stand, I offer no apology to any of the world’s billions for believing and stating what I believe and state.
In conclusion on my way back, as I walked back to Sanglao, and as I stood on the top of a mountain, I shouted to the rivers, fishes, mountains and trees and animals of Nagaland… Yes, I shouted at the top of my voice and I screamed: “Angamis may be dead; Nagas may be dead; but I am still alive and I will not surrender you to Burma or India.” I shouted to my hills, valley and mountains that I will not betray them to foreign aggression of my beloved lands.
LONG LIVE NAGA LANDS.