Mokokchung, 14 March (MTNews): The Naga Club in a letter to the President of India and the Secretary General, United Nations has directed strong criticism towards the Government of India, accusing it of perpetuating what they termed as “Nehru’s legacy of arrogant aggression” against the Nagas. The club particularly condemned the decision to terminate the Free Movement Regime (FMR), labeling it as cruel, inhumane, and criminally motivated.

According to the Naga Club, the decision to end the FMR was purportedly made at the behest of the Chief Minister of Manipur, “who is already infamous for the alleged ethnic cleansing orchestrated on a section of its tribal Christian population” in the state. Consequently, the Naga Club claimed that the ruling dispensation in Delhi is complicit in the alleged crimes committed by the Manipur government.

Furthermore, the Naga Club asserted that the justification provided by the Chief Minister of Manipur for ending the FMR is malicious and unfounded. They argued that to cover up the crimes on ethnic minorities in Manipur, another crime is “being manufactured against the ethnic tribals in the whole region around the arbitrary international border in the form of abrogating the FMR and the proposal to erect permanent fencing to divide the indigenous ethnic tribals.”

The Naga Club strongly opposed any restrictions on the movement of Naga people within their indigenous ancestral lands and denounced plans to erect any physical barriers along arbitrary and imaginary lines devised to divide and separate the ethnic Nagas in their own dwelling places.

Citing historical context, the Naga Club highlighted the Nagas’ longstanding struggle for self-determination, tracing it back to the colonial era. They lamented the disregard for Nagas’ aspirations for self-rule following the departure of the British, which led to decades of conflict with the Indian government.

The Club recalled significant events such as Mahatma Gandhi’s acknowledgment of the Nagas’ right to self-determination and the declaration of Naga Independence Day on 14 August 1947. However, it expressed dismay that the Nagas’ aspirations for self-rule were overlooked when the British left the Indian sub-continent, resulting in ongoing conflict with the Indian government.

Highlighting instances of perceived oppression and disregard for Naga autonomy, the Naga Club recounted how the Indian government sent their administrators to rule over the Naga areas without justification, sparking resentment and opposition among the Naga people. This discontent culminated in the voluntary ‘Naga Plebiscite’ held on May 16, 1951, where an overwhelming 99.9% of Nagas voted against Indian rule.

Furthermore, the Naga Club criticized India’s conduct towards the Nagas since independence, characterizing it as grounded in oppression, military aggression, human rights violations, and exploitation. They pointed to alleged collusion with neighboring Burma to divide Naga lands without the consent of local inhabitants, exemplified by the arbitrary international boundary line passing through the residence of the Chief of Longwa village in Mon district, Nagaland.

In addition to historical grievances, the Naga Club referenced recent incidents of what they perceive as ongoing aggression against the Nagas. They cited the continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the tragic events of the Oting Massacre on 4 December 2021 where 13 unarmed Naga laborers were killed in an ambush. They recounted how Indian paramilitary forces staged an ambush and evidence emerged suggesting that the paramilitary forces attempted to disguise the victims as armed insurgents after the killings.

“In spite of telltale signs and un-missable evidences of cold-blooded murder of the innocents in this botched fake encounter, India, so called the largest democracy has hushed up the investigation to protect the guilty and has denied justice to the victims till date,” the club said.

Furthermore, the Naga Club criticized the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023 and raised concerns over the potential impact of the National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) on tribal lands in Nagaland.

Stating that the Indo Naga conflict is one of the longest conflicts that continue till today, the Naga Club attributed its persistence to India’s refusal to acknowledge its occupational aggression and/or its policies of oppression, such as the scrapping of the Free Movement Regime (FMR). They argued that such acts only deepen mistrust and exacerbate the conflict between India and the Naga people.

In light of these concerns, the Naga Club appealed to authorities to prevent further misadventures against the Nagas, particularly in relation to the scrapping of the FMR.

(Read the Naga Club’s letter to President of India and UN Secretary General here)

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