It is understandable that there would be diverse responses to the reports identifying and holding the IRB responsible for gross violations of human rights committed on civilians in Chhattisgarh. The common inability to comprehend and fully accept the degree to which personnel of the Naga IRB have indulged in activities which contravene ethos of life is quite understandable. It is however very tragic when responsible people holding responsible positions in government irresponsibly deny on matters that concern the right to life and accuse such reports as ‘nothing but an attempt to tarnish the image of the force.’
Such irresponsible denials insult the victims and undermine the legitimacy of various fact-finding teams that have been arrived at their finding reports only after intense on the ground verification by experienced people and groups which consist of prominent individuals of public standing. It is only obvious that the government of Chhattisgarh would deny such atrocities and would not like to divulge the actual happenings on the ground situation, because it is in their interest that the IRB continues to be deployed at Chhattisgarh.
One should accept that there are too many reports from different sources to deny that the Naga IRB is responsible for some serious violations. A responsible government should take the initiative to restore faith and trust on the people by initiating a chain of responses that could well begin with an independent enquiry on the findings of the various report, and then acting on it in a just and democratic manner. While it is pertinent that the immediate task is to address the criminal acts already documented by various fact-finding groups, it is equally important to further engage on why the IRB personnel behaved in a manner in which they have.
Considering that the IRB are deployed in a highly intense and stressed area where they are faced with adverse life-threatening situations such as ambush and encounters, and diseases like malaria, it is the responsibility of the government to initiate a more in-depth study on the consequences that such an environment is having on the IRB personnel. The question of trauma cannot be underestimated, especially in the case of soldiers who have been posted in highly intense zones. For a long time, Nagas were on the receiving end of atrocities, now, the Chhattisgarh episode has created a new twist and it is essential that the Naga society collectively put its mind together in addressing this serious issue, less we are accused of collective perversion.
There are long term implications to the IRB deployment in Chhattisgarh. The action of the IRB contradicts the popular belief that Nagas are generally respectful of women and children while holding the highest regard for human life. Their actions also further strengthen stereotype images of Nagas in the India sub-continent, which results in increased isolation and discrimination on Nagas. However the most far-reaching consequence will be how the deployed IRB personnel would behave once they return to Naga society. Given the fact that they are functioning with unaccountable power and with little regard for law, the consequences could be frightening.
It would be essential that all the deployed soldiers go through an intense trauma and healing sessions so that they are empowered and prepared to reintegrate back to society. In the end, if we are to restore any hope, it is essential that the Naga public read the findings of the report in a truthful manner and subsequently demand a conscious direction that will uphold the principles of democracy and justice.