NSF & GNF object to Indian Army Morung at Naga Heritage Village

NSF calls upon GoI to respect sentiments of Naga community and rectify situation

Kohima, December 4 (MExN): The Naga Students' Federation (NSF) and the Global Naga Forum (GNF) today expressed objections over the raising of an Indian Army Morung at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama during the ongoing Hornbill Festival. 

Expressing anguish, the NSF said that the act “ostensibly done to ‘pay tribute to valiant soldiers’ has ignited a wave of outrage and disbelief among the Naga people and human rights advocates” 

The timing of this event is particularly distressing, given the unresolved and harrowing events surrounding the 2021 Hornbill Festival, stated a press release from NSF President Medovi Rhi and General Secretary Chumben Khuvung. It further pointed out that the 2021 edition was abruptly abandoned following the tragic massacre of 14 innocent Naga civilians in Oting, Mon allegedly by the Indian Army.

Despite a government commission identifying 30 Indian army personnel as responsible for the “heinous act,” no criminal proceedings have been initiated against them even two years after the incident, it asserted.

“This failure of justice intensifies the pain and frustration felt by the Naga people,” it said, adding that the grievance is compounded by the continued enforcement of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland, which grants the “Indian Army sweeping powers and facilitated the aforementioned massacre.”

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, it added. 

Accordingly, the NSF unequivocally declared the Indian Army's decision to raise an Indian Army Morung “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, it said. 

The Federation is appalled and sees no rationale as to why the concerned departments have allocated the site to the Indian Army in the very first place without due regard of the cultural appropriation and insensitivity to the deeply rooted traditions and values of the Naga people, it added. 

Accordingly, the NSF demanded that the “term ‘Indian Army Morung,’ as published in local dailies, must be immediately replaced” and calls upon the Government of India (GoI) to respect the sentiments of the Naga community and rectify this situation promptly.

Further, it urged the GoI to address the longstanding demand of the Naga people for 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.

Meanwhile, citing similar concerns as well as the Inspector General of the Assam Rifles (AR) being featured as a Special Guest at the Miss Hornbill International event, the GNF called the development an “unending drama.”

The AR force as a “long, notorious history of committing atrocities against the Naga people,” it maintained. 

“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 GNF added.