Culture of Truth or Culture of Silence?

The recent revelations of atrocities committed by the 9th IRB in Chhattisgarh have put Naga consciousness to the test. The manner in which the Naga consciousness responds to this pertinent issue will reflect on its openness, maturity and its courage and ability to engage in critical self-reflection. No doubt the 9th IRB is an entity outside of Naga society; it constitutes individuals who form part of the Naga society. Therefore, while it is true that the 9th IRB are in Chhattisgarh as a state agency instituted, representing and following the orders of the Indian Government, it is nonetheless an issue that the Naga consciousness just simply ignore or bypass because it touches upon the principles of dignity and human life.  

Although the primary accountability and responsibility lies with the government, the Naga consciousness would be failing if it were to just dismiss it through its silence. The Naga consciousness therefore cannot allow public opinion to remain indifferent or to be self-righteous or to allow it go into self-denial. Rather Naga consciousness must bring forth into public expressions the questions that are necessary to facilitate the birthing of truth, and to then follow up on a process that would engage with the broader questions of human rights as an integral part of a given society.  

While it would be very convenient for the government to bring home the 9th IRB from Chhattisgarh, the issue just simply does not end there. The questions surrounding the formation of IRB, its training techniques, the chain of structural accountability as well as its functional aspects ought to be critically evaluated. These are necessary in the light of the incidents that have not only occurred in Chhattisgarh, but also within Nagaland itself where there have been a number of reported instances where IRB personnel have overstepped their boundary, to the extent that they are losing public confidence. 

How then can a law protecting agency function when the very people they are meant to protect, fear them? This calls for serious evaluation. The reputation of the IRB is confined to the 9th IRB alone; questions are being raised against the Mizo IRB in Chhattisgarh. The broader issue in question therefore point towards the institution of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), which are being raised in the northeast. While IRB is being interpreted as an employment opportunity, one must however locate the discourse of employment within others human activities and principles. It poses the ethical dilemma: do I sell my soul in exchange for employment?

It’s a tragedy when members of an indigenous community are used as tools against the aspiration of another indigenous community. The Naga response to this issue will have long term consequences, both internally as well as externally. In the final analysis, it will contribute in determining whether Naga collective consciousness is nurturing a culture of silence or a culture of truth. Let’s hope, for the sake of the future and for the empowerment of the Naga consciousness it will be the culture of truth and justice that will prevail and transcend over our narrow domestic walls.