I wish to write to you with all due respect for what you represent and for what you are fighting for. I grew up in a place where you and your cadres are respected, loved and admired. We have always known your men being welcomed with the best roosters in the village and even the biggest pig depending on the number of cadres passing through the village. We were taught by the elders that you and your men are fighting for the freedom of our Naga nation. In our wild imagination as schoolchildren, we imagine you to be the equals of people like Gandhiji and we revered your name and your organization.
We were taught by the elders to use the term ‘akiliangmai’ which literally is translated as ‘our relatives’ in Lianglad. We played soldiers during our vacations and we named our outfit after the name of your group and mimicked the stories of the propaganda movies like ‘Ramcho Ramrin’, ‘Love in Nagaland’ etc. which were just a mime play to us because it was enacted in a non local dialect. Yet we love the movies and the characters in the movie because the heroes of the movie were supposed to be your men. As we grow up, we saw many of our fathers parting with their best pals with whom they had grown up together with.
Yet, we neither heard of them speaking ill of your ‘government’ nor your cadres. We never ever heard of anyone speaking up against your ideology not because of fear but because we share your dream of a free Nagalim and our gratefulness for your sacrifice for the cause of the Nagas. I remember an incident in way back in the ‘90s in which the Indian Arm Force bring all the people in my village and separately keep women, children and men for the whole day without food because their men were waylaid and they lost 5 soldiers just 3 km. away from my village.
No one in the village bear grudge against you even after that incident because the Indian soldiers are villains and your men, our heroes. There was a time when we almost live without salt because all connectivity to the outside world was cut off due to the ethnic clash in which you were involved. Yet we were happy to see our land being ‘freed’ even if we have to go without food. There were white flags in the front porch of every house in town to declare our support for you when you demanded ceasefire without territorial integrity and a week later a black flag replaced all the white flags because the demand was denied.
As time pass, in the last decade, we heard of new factions and outfits who split away from you but we called them greedy opportunists who are taking the name of the cause to meet their own vested interest of pursuing a place in the society. There are even some, who took the name of our tribe and start a revolutionary movement, a menace which we are all facing now and hoping that you will come out supreme. We believe in the Naga nation and are not ready to settle for anything less.
We remain loyal to you. No other outfit dared to set foot on our land and your men roam the streets like anyone of the aimless school dropout roaming the street whiling away the day. We have heard of media accusing your ‘government’ of illegal taxing and extortions. Yet, we do not look at you with the same accusing eyes of those people because it is your land and you the sons of the soil. There was an organization in Nagaland fighting against the taxation which was targeted at you equally with the rest of the groups. We do not make up such movement not because we are rich and could afford to provide everything that you ask for but because you are considered our protector, our would-be martyrs.
Over the years the student community had always rallied behind you and showed our support for the cause you are fighting for. When the top leaders came back from abroad, we were there singing the song ‘We shall overcome’ not because we love the song but because deep in our hearts we believe that we really shall overcome someday. When the public needs a voice to support your ‘government’, it is the student community who made a face and stand with you.
Let us not forget the recent Mao incident in which two young students one of whom was a widow’s only son being killed, not because of their foolishness but because they stood for you. We take pride that we have our leader who made the corrupt government tremble. Our mothers leave their homes and were in a refugee camp in another state for more than a week. We were not ashame though because you are our face. The infamous ‘Economic blockade’ of Manipur is a legacy of the student communities’ die hard support for you and the cause.
For all who you have been and what you stood for, our gratefulness and admiration will one day be with the dust of our bodies in our graves.
Let me also remind you that this support and admiration we have for you is so because we trust you and have faith that you will not betray us. We do not doubt that you will let us down. We have that childlike trust in you that you will protect our land and its integrity. On the contrary, there had been situations in the recent past which suggest the opposite. There had been instances wherein the public is squarely denied their basic right to pursue happiness. There had been instances in which locals were not allowed to use their resources. There had been murmurs about the cadres indulging in the very activity which your ‘government’ banned. The love and the admiration now seem to be evolving to fear.
The quietness may be the same but the reason for being quiet may not be the same anymore. Ukhrul is under siege by the Manipur Police commandos and the IRB commandos. Children and women living with fear in their own homes under their own roofs. We could not find reason blame the public. Tamenglong is a battlefield now.
Where does the discontentment come from?
And every Naga administered Facebook page is now engaging in a fierce verbal spat over an assault of a student in Maram center by the cadres of your ‘government’. Zeliangrong people and the Maramei are almost in a civil war. Thanks to the ‘national workers’ who attempted murder to deal with a menace of a drunken boy. Now he is in the hospital with broken limbs and jaws not to mention the internal organs being damaged by the thrashing. No statement from the people who did it heard yet. When it is some other group with no ideology who did this, we understand and forgive because of the low stature at which the public puts them. But when it is your men who did this, we feel betrayed, a spit on the face in return for being a loyal supporters and admirers of your ideology.
With a note of this few incidents, we cannot help but think if we are under suppression to get liberated from a nonexistent oppression? Is it relevant at this age to rule with muscle? Have we not seen how regimes were overthrown by the public in the recent years? Are we not entitled to a even a little gratitude for all our love and admiration we had for you? Are we not the people for whom you are fighting for? It is your ‘government’ because of the Nagas and not vice versa. Could we not do with a little modesty from the cadres when they are in town? We dread the idea of our leaders being overthrown and targeted because of the foolishness of some few trained-for-jungle boys.
I would like to make a sincere appeal to all our right thinking leaders and responsible martyrs to think twice and if that does not help, think hundred times over and show restrain and give space for mutual understanding if not respect, in your relationship with the people for whom you claim your allegiance.
PS: All other outfits may not take this letter as a mileage. The people understand when you are involved.