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‘Veer Smriti’ at Mokokchung recalls the history – Naga people react: A report

(A combined Memorial for Army and Assam Rifles christened “Veer Smriti” at Mokokchung | Photo: ADGPI Indian Army)

Dimapur, February 2 (NE): Ever since the news came out on a combined Memorial for Army and Assam Rifles christened “Veer Smriti” with a spread of approximately 13,500 Sq. Ft constructed under the aegis of Headquarters Inspector General Assam Rifles (North), which was inaugurated by Maj. Gen. Pradeep Nair, AVSM, YSM, IG Assam Rifles (North) on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Mokokchung, netizens including veterans took to various social media to express their views on this matter, some through open letters.

NagalandExpress has received various informations from the netizens and here is an open letter to read as follows:

“We honor, recognize and support the historical foundation and political rights of our Naga people. The history of the Indo-Naga protracted conflict, amongst the longest armed conflict in recent history, is because Indian Government could not accept the simple but clear declaration of the Nagas’ desire to be left alone. Rather, in response, the Indian Government’s full armed operation was launched in the Naga Hills and by 1955 a full scale war started.

The Indian Security Forces including the Assam Rifles invaded Naga-land in rampant violation of our fundamental human rights, security and sovereign rights. This severe asymmetrical conflict ensure that Naga vision and aspiration for their future as a separate, independent entity was suppressed. In the conflict, hundreds and thousands of Nagas were ruthlessly killed. We may never get to the totality of the armed atrocities, but the scars and the trauma are real. Women, including minor girls were raped, sodomy were committed on boys and men, churches were desecrated, granaries and villages were repeatedly burned, families who were uprooted had to live in the jungle for years while fleeing from the brutality of the Indian Army. Mangmetong village, in Mokokchung District was burned a record nineteen times. The grouping of Naga villages in classic style Concentration Camps was a systematic tool to achieve complete and cruel control of the people and to crush the Naga movement.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act was introduced in 1958 to specifically deal with the Naga freedom movement. Ever since, every right thinking Nagas and our neighbouring states including outsiders have repeatedly demanded to repeal this Act. Delhi has used this draconian Act elsewhere also.

As it is, AFSPA is a long-standing, wounding, humiliation for Nagaland, the North East and Kashmir. Even today, endless army trucks rumble in and out of Nagaland each day and the Indian army parades up and down the streets of Nagaland brandishing their weapons. Nagaland continues to look like a militarized war zone. But the people yearn for peace through honest and transparent negotiation.

We, the Nagas are trying to move forward, but we are also struggling in our journey towards healing from the trauma and challenges that have emerged within the new social and political realities. And we are still waiting for justice, reparation and recognition for the atrocities Nagas have endured all these decades in the hands of the Army and the Assam Rifles.

We are sorry for the loss of the Indian Army personnels on Naga soil while in duty in their attempt to quell the Nagas’ aspiration for freedom. We share the pain of the families who lost their loved ones. It is a history of tragedy, suffering and loss on both sides. But we strongly object and question the proposed combined War Memorial, inaugurated in Mokokchung Town by Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) in memory of the 357 Army and Assam Rifles personnels lost in Nagaland.
We object the rationale and the narrative to the construction of the War Memorial issued by a senior Assam Rifles Official on 29th January 2020 to the media.

(During the inaugural ceremony of a combined Memorial for Army and Assam Rifles christened “Veer Smriti” at Mokokchung | Photo: ADGPI Indian Army)

“Since 1955 when insurgency first cast its ugly shadow in Nagaland, lives of 357 personnel from the Army and Assam Rifles have been lost. Their sacrifice has not been in vain for Nagaland today is limping back to normalcy and is an important cog in India’s Act East Policy. The Assam Rifles authorities in Nagaland felt it was necessary to have a memorial that was befitting the supreme sacrifice made by our men in uniform and one which also acts as a beacon of motivation for future generations in the state and country”. He added, “The sacrifice of these brave men has been the reason why peace and near normalcy has been restored in Nagaland…” While “Mokokchung”, it further explained, was chosen as the site for the War Memorial, “Due to its centrality, richness in culture and because a large number of soldiers were martyred in the district in the line of their duty”.

Mokokchung is the place where only 25 years ago in December 27, 1994 an extraordinary case of massacre, indiscriminate rape and arson was carried out by the Indian Army. The citizens of Mokokchung remember that day as Ayatia Mokokchung – the Lamentation of Mokokchung. We have not forgotten. We commemorate it every year.

Keeping history in perspective, we are shocked and hurt by this calculative insensitivity and decision executed by the Assam Rifles. We demand an inquiry if any informed consultation with the Naga people was taken in this regard. We are insulted with the dominant narrative and the lack of depth and understanding of the Indo-Naga crisis on the part of the Indian Security Forces. We appeal to the Government of India to take cognizance of this matter and rectify the blunder made in the historical reading and narrative of the War Monument in Nagaland by the Assam Rifles.

We do not want our history distorted nor manipulated. We hope the great people of India will extend support and understand our Naga struggle and position. We cannot believe that the statement above made by the Assam Rifles Official represent the thinking of the Indian Army – unquote.

Various senior citizens has also written to rethink on such War Memories particularly here at Nagaland for the vexed Naga talks is not fully concluded as can be seen in the light, for a real justice and peace to happen here, it added.

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