The recent violence in Manipur has broken people’s hearts and dreams by causing them to lose their families, houses, jobs, and places to live. On 13 May, provoked by the tragic suffering and pain coming out from Manipur, a team of Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) along with representatives from the NSCN (IM) and NNPGs travelled to the Kuki Baptist Association Mission Centre in Khaibung, Chümoukedima district, to stand in solidarity with those displaced by the violence.
When asked about the role of the FNR in this visit, Rev Dr Wati Aier, convenor of the FNR, told Mokokchung Times that since the ‘September Joint Accordant’ of 14 September 2022, the NNPGs and the NSCN-IM have agreed to form the “Council of Naga Relationships and Cooperation” and have strengthened their unity ever since.
However, regarding the differences shared between the Kukis and the NSCN-IM particularly, he said, “We keep on talking a lot of things but in challenging times like this, especially for the people of Manipur, we realized that we are all human beings and we have the capacity to go beyond our hurt and pain.”
It may be remembered here that the Nagas and the Kukis have a long history of violence dating back to the 1990s, and reconciliation between them has remained elusive even today. According to reports, the Tangkhuls, one of the major Naga tribes, were at the forefront of the conflict with the Kukis, where Thuingaleng Muivah – the General Secretary of NSCN (IM) – is also a Tangkhul Naga.
However, Rev Dr Wati Aier stated that now was a time to reach out and stand in solidarity with those who are hurting and in need.
“In Nagaland, we have our own Kuki brothers and sisters; Kukis from Manipur also use Nagaland as a transit point and stay in Nagaland before departing for Guwahati and Karbi Anglong. So we reached out to our Naga Political Groups and informed them that we should reach out to them. And both NSCN-IM and NNPGs agreed willingly, and they were ready to offer them whatever help they could,” Aier told Mokokchung Times.
“Impossible becomes possible,” said Aier, since “we are all human beings and can go beyond our hurts and pain, and it is a lesson for all of us to reach out to others.”
“The kind of response we are getting now from all the Naga Political Groups – in a normal situation, such things would be impossible, but to understand human pain and suffering is living, and so we must practice critical empathy,” he remarked.
He expressed his feelings about how the Kukis reacted to their visit, saying that they were ‘touched’.
“It is psychological to feel touched when we have a community or group of people who are marginalized, singled out, and in pain and hurt, and then on the other hand, we have Naga Political Groups reaching out to them and saying, we are with you even though we have nothing to give you but this small amount of basic necessities,” he added.
When asked if he believes this could pave the way for reconciliation between the Kukis and the NSCN-IM, he responded, “Our rights, identity, uniqueness, and history are alive, so we will have to change in the process, if necessary. And if our Naga Political issue is alive, let us live like people.”
He affirmed that Nagas must begin to think differently, adding that we can no longer dwell in the past and should hold on to ‘constructive nationalism’ rather than ‘idealistic nationalism’.
He then urged the elders to consider the younger generation, listen to them, and repair the mistake of not listening to them in the past, saying that the young must now lead Naga society.
Finally, he believes that Nagas must continue to move forward without departing from “our rights, our historical de facto,” but also by keeping up with the changing situation.
As they stand in solidarity with all people impacted by the riots, the NSCN (IM) and NNPGs through the FNR contributed relief materials in the form of 200 bags of rice and 15 bags of lentils (dal).
The presidents of Kuki Inpi Nagaland; Kuki Students’ Organization, Nagaland; and Kuki Nute Kiloikhom (Kuki Mothers’ Association) Nagaland spoke about the people’s suffering in a brief program conducted in the Chapel Hall of the Mission Centre, Khaibung.
Rev Dr Wati Aier, Rev Dr Ellen Konyak Jamir, and Dr Visier Sanyü spoke on behalf of the FNR.
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