January 25, 2022 10:22:13 pm
As a mark of continued protest against the killing of 14 civilians in Mon district’s Oting last month, several Naga civil society organisations in Nagaland and Manipur have decided to boycott the Republic Day celebrations.
Among the organisations urging people not to participate are the Naga Students’ Federation and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation in Nagaland, and the United Naga Council in Manipur. The Konyak Union, the apex tribal body of the Konyaks, the resident tribe of Mon district, has requested all Konyaks (including government servants and politicians) to “completely abstain” from participating in Republic Day programmes.
These organisations have pointed out that justice for the civilian killings has still not been delivered, nor has the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, been repealed.
On December 4, six coal miners in Oting village were shot dead by the Army’s 21 Para Special Force in a case of mistaken identity. Seven more civilians died in the violence that ensued in the aftermath of the killings.
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In a statement, the Naga Students’ Federation, which is the apex Naga student body, said that all students and youth should disassociate themselves from such celebration as long as the Government of India continues with its “policy of militarising” the Naga homeland. “This is not in defiance of any forces on earth but the assertion that the voices of the Naga people cannot be muted despite the continued subjugation by forces reeking of colonial ideologies and practices,” the federation said in its statement.
In its directive, the Manipur unit of the United Naga Council said that it had taken “serious note” of “continuous denial of the legitimate political rights of the Nagas” and the recent incident at Oting, which it described as “yet another barbaric display of genocide” and an “undeclared war against Nagas by the Indian Army”. It added that its boycott in the Naga areas of Manipur demonstrated the “strong displeasure” of the Naga people at the delaying of the mutually agreed historic Indo-Naga Framework Agreement even after more than six years of signing.
The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), which represents five Eastern Nagaland districts, including Mon, also issued orders to all the tribal bodies within the area to boycott the celebration. The body continues its earlier resolve of non-cooperation with Indian security forces till “justice is delivered” with respect to the killings of the civilians. “Memorandum submitted by us to the President of India has had no response. Moreover, the Special Investigation Team, set up by the state government has not been able to submit report… Thus we are marking our protest by boycotting Republic Day,” said ENPO secretary W Manwang Anghaa.
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