Amid Hornbill festival, NSF observed Oting massacre as black day

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Amid Hornbill festival, NSF observed Oting massacre as black day

Kohima: “It can never be forgotten,” Medovi Rhi, president of the Naga Students Federation, solemnly declared as he reflected on the tragic events of December 4, 2021, when 14 innocent civilians lost their lives at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces.
Naga Students Federation today observed “Black Day – In Remembrance of Oting massacre – ​​Abolition of AFSPA in Naga Homeland” at NSF Oking, Naga Club Building, Kohima.
Medovi Rhi said the Nagas have not forgotten the brutal killing of Oting, stressing the ongoing non-cooperation of the NSF with the Indian Armed Forces.

Tribunal General Kegwayhun Tep, a former president of the NSF, echoed these sentiments, calling the atrocities a serious issue that should never be forgotten.
“Even today the victims are not getting justice,” Tep recalled, expressing disappointment that no action has been taken against the 30 accused by the Indian armed forces.

The lingering shadows of the ‘Indian Army Mooring’ and the Oting Massacre
In a surprising twist, the Nagaland Hornbill Festival 2023 has introduced a controversial attraction: the ‘Indian Army Morung’. The move, seen as an opportunity to pay tribute to the brave soldiers and showcase the rich culture and heritage of Nagaland, has sparked outrage and disbelief.

The Ministry of Defence posted a photo of the ‘Indian Army Morung’ on X and stated: “Setting new precedence, #IndianArmy established a Morung at Kisama Heritage Village during the #HornbillFestival2023, showcasing the rich culture & heritage of #Nagaland and to pay tribute to the valiant soldiers & outstanding sportspersons of the state.”

The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) expressed deep anguish in a press statement, criticizing the Indian Army’s decision to raise an “Indian Army Morung” in the Naga Heritage Village. The NSF highlighted the sensitivity of the timing, given the unresolved issues surrounding the 2021 Hornbill Festival, which was abruptly abandoned following the tragic Oting massacre.

It may be noted that the Hornbill Festival was abruptly abandoned in 2021 following the tragic massacre of 14 innocent Naga civilians in Oting, Mon by the Indian Army. Despite a government commission identifying 30 Indian army personnel as responsible for this heinous act, no criminal proceedings have been initiated against them even two years after the incident.

“This failure of justice intensifies the pain and frustration felt by the Naga people,” added the NSF.

The NSF added that the continued enforcement of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland, which granted the Indian Army sweeping powers and facilitated the aforementioned massacre, has compounded the grief.

Amid Hornbill festival, NSF observed Oting massacre as black day

“The absence of accountability for the perpetrators raises serious concerns about justice and human rights in the region. The scars left by these events are still fresh, and the wounds remain open,” added the NSF.

In this context, the NSF declared the Indian Army’s decision to raise an “Indian Army Morung” in the Naga Heritage Village as “not only insensitive but also a direct affront to the established cultural norms of the Naga people.”

“The attempt to showcase culture and heritage in this manner rings hollow and appears to be a misguided effort to distract from the unresolved grievances of the Naga community,” observed the NSF.

Furthermore, the Federation said they see no rationale as to why the concerned departments have allocated the site to the Indian Army in the very first place without due regard for the cultural appropriation and insensitivity to the deeply rooted traditions and values of the Naga people.

The Federation demanded that the term “Indian Army Morung,” as published in local dailies, must be immediately replaced and called upon the Indian government to respect the sentiments of the Naga community and rectify this situation promptly.

Furthermore, the NSF urged the Indian government to address the longstanding demand of the Naga people for the repeal of AFSPA in the Naga homeland and immediately initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible for the 2021 Oting massacre as an essential step towards justice and healing.

‘Unending drama of India’s grim gift’

The Global Naga Forum echoed the NSF’s concerns, expressing deep concern and condemnation. Referring to the tragic events of Oting, Mon during the 2021 Hornbill Festival, the forum emphasized the urgent need for justice and accountability.

“Whereas the 2021 Hornbill Festival was abandoned midway because 14 innocent Naga civilians were massacred by the Indian Army’s Special Forces in Oting and Mon, Nagaland, leaving dozens more maimed and injured while the festival was in progress,” the forum stated.

“Whereas 30 Indian army personnel were identified as responsible for the massacre by the state police Special Investigation Team, but to date, even after two years, the Indian government has blocked criminal proceedings against the perpetrators of the crimes and the murder victims are still denied justice:

Whereas the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA, 1958), which enabled the Indian Army to massacre the 14 innocent Naga civilians, is still in force in Nagaland:

Now, in 2023: Two years to the month of the Oting and Mon massacre, the Indian Army raises a Naga Morung in the Naga Heritage Village “to pay tribute to the valiant soldiers” and “showcasing the rich culture and heritage of Nagaland.” Where, among other dignitaries, the Inspector General of the Assam Rifles (AR) is featured as a Special Guest at the Miss Hornbill International event, AR, a force with a long, notorious history of committing atrocities against the Naga people, including raping and abusing women.

This is the current scene in the unending drama of India’s grim gift of democracy and modernity to the Naga indigenous people who still live separated in four Indian states and in Myanmar,” the forum added.

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