Oinam Hill villagers depicted the ‘Operation Bluebird’ in drama on the 31st commemoration of The Great Battle of Oinam on July 9 held at Tahamzam (Manipur).
Naga people commemorate 31st The Great Battle of Oinam-Operation Bluebird
Tahamzam, July 9 (MExN): On July 9, 1987, the 21 Assam Rifles Outpost at Oinam Hill village was attacked and ransacked by the NSCN (IM), killing nine soldiers, injuring three, capturing a load of arms and ammunition. ‘Operation Bluebird’ was an extensive combing operation launched by Indian Government on July 11, 1987, in reprisal. Major General Kukrety, Inspector General of the Assam Rifles and General Officer in Command of the Manipur section of the Assam Rifles supervised the operation which affected more than 30 villages in and around Oinam Hill Village in Tahamzam (Senapati district of Manipur) that lasted for about six months.
But the people battled the abuses through the Indian judiciary though the case remains pending till date.
The Oinam case in Gauhati High Court signified how people showed “remarkable courage against the cruelty of Assam Rifles; we feel we have not failed though the case is still in the court,” said veteran rights’ activist Aram Pamei. “It signifies human struggle against structural violence.”
Pamei was speaking at an event to observe what came to be known as Onae Reh Dah or The Great Battle of Oinam, organised by the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) and hosted by Poumai Naga Union (PNU) to mark 31 years of Operation Bluebird in solidarity with the people of Oinam Hill village and 30 other neighbouring villages affected by the Operation in Vakho, New Karong, Tahamzam (Senapati district). The event was supported by Poumai Tsiidoumai Me and Oinam Hill Village.
Abuse & a ceasefire
The NPMHR filed a petition in the Gauhati High Court charging that 125 houses were burnt, 112 houses dismantled, 6 schools and 10 churches dismantled, properties worth of Rs. 50,75,000 looted from seven villages and villagers belonging to five villages forced to work. 27 persons were alleged to have been killed in encounters on different dates in Senapati District, 3 women were allegedly raped, five women sexually molested and 300 persons tortured by the Assam Rifles. Two women were forced to give birth in public view in the ground.
Neingulo Krome, Secretary General of NPMHR, in commemoration address at the 31st commemoration drew parallels with Matikhrii where all men were beheaded and several other such cases between 1947 and 1987.
According to Krome, Naga history could be drawn into two parts, pre and post Oinam incident, because of the well documentation and publication of case documents through Coordinating Committee on Oinam Issue (COCOI). 10 years after the Oinam incident, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Government of India and NSCN (IM) that led to subsequent peace talks.
Since the signing of ceasefire, Nagas are enjoying life so much and becoming corrupted, Krome lamented. He said the Nagas of present Nagaland must take the responsibility for the present situation which is going down to the lowest situation and must do away with ‘crab mentality.’ For him, “Nagas must respect and prune each other.”
“We owe so much to friends and neighbours,” said Krome, while referring to the solidarity received from others during the legal pursuit. He maintained that Nagas must live in peace with neighbours, be it in Manipur or Myanmar.