Dimapur | July 11
The contentious ban on dog meat in Nagaland has given rise to another social media campaign demanding an apology from the People for Animals, India (PFA) for painting the Nagas as a "villainous society."
The PFA’s campaign to ban dog meat in Nagaland began with posts on its social media pages on June 30, where a post attributed PFA Chairperson Maneka Sanjay Gandhi claimed that "All the dogs are now being brought in from outside the state as Nagaland has eaten all its own dogs." It also claimed that Nagaland had 'dog restaurants.'
The statement did not bode well with sections of the Naga populace who began sending direct messages (DMs) to Kanika Dewan, the Director of Partnerships & Strategy (PFA), and left comments on PFA’s social media handles, asking the organisation to retract the statement and apologise to the Nagas.
Subsequently, a petition on Change.org was started by a group of like-minded individuals on July 6.
The petitioners claimed that the statement “is not only factually wrong, but derogatory and insensitive to the 20+ lakh people living in the state of Nagaland.”
“After being called chinky, bahadur, corona etc outside the state to this day, we are not going to allow PFA to make one more sweeping, uneducated statement to denigrate and humiliate us. We demand an apology from People for Animals for their thoughtless and disparaging remarks about the people of Nagaland,” it added.
While PFA succeeded in getting the ban, it also led to an increase in cases of racial abuse and slurs against Nagas on various social media platforms, at the hands ‘animal activists.’
Notably, a resident of Mumbai, identified as ‘Hema Choudhary,’ entered the media limelight for her outbursts against Nagas and Nagaland.
According to an FIR filed by the Nagaland Congress’ Minority Department, Choudhary had allegedly “mentioned about ‘boycotting Nagaland,’ ‘threatened on cutting our neck, etc,’ which provoked more commenters on her post that has been going viral.”
It was reported that several FIRs were also filed against her in Kohima, Dimapur, Mumbai as well as Delhi.
The petitioners also contended that people and organisations must be held accountable for their words and actions, stating that “one cannot use that power to promote hatred towards people by propagating lies.”
“We know the petition will eventually end up in their junk mail but it seemed like a good tool to spread awareness when we needed to get the word out,” one of the petitioners, Achie Humtsoe, told The Morung Express.
The petition has garnered over 6,200 signatures at the time of filing this report. Apart from the petition, many Nagas took to various social media platforms to dispel the sweeping statement made by PFA.
‘Irresponsible,’ ‘racist’ statement?
Many who signed the petition shared their views on the “irresponsible” statement.
According to Thejangulie Sogotsu, “PFA made an irresponsible remarks against the entire Naga community which is not true and also which is not expected from such big organisation.” He also added that such a “vindictive statement will misguide millions of people and their perspectives about Nagas.”
Dharya Metha who also signed the petition wrote “This statement of the PFA is inciting and purely racist in nature. A statement such as this is uncalled for and unbecoming of an organisation which I dearly respected! They must apologise and retract their statement.”
Similarly, Aso Angami viewed that the entire state is “being coloured in the most tasteless of colors.” Speaking to The Morung Express, Aso observed that the “hurtful and poorly researched statement will only promote hate and further divide the people especially since it is going out to populations that haven’t visited, seen or even heard of Nagaland.”
“We want PFA to act like the socially responsible organisation they claim to be, and own up to their mistake with a public apology,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nagaland Advisor for IT, Science and Technology, NRE, Mmhonlumo Kikon also took to Twitter on July 7, pointing out the ‘racist overtones.’
In response to PFA’s tweet acknowledging the state government for imposing the ban, the Advisor tweeted, “Thank you @pfaindia. But the racist overtones which had incited hateful comments against the Nagas due to a selective misrepresentation of the issue in your post must be condemned. The Govt of Nagaland will ensure the protection of its citizens. Let’s be cautious & sensitive!”
The PFA meanwhile, has not directly responded to any of the messages or comments on its social media platforms. The PFA also did not respond to this newspaper’s request for comment.
However, on July 7, the organisation edited the original post on Instagram, and removed the statement that Nagaland had “eaten all its dogs.”
Claims about the alleged “dog restaurants” however, remain on the post; so is a Twitter post with similar message.
The petitioners are meanwhile unrelenting.
As Bethel Tsuzu puts across, “Editing the statement is one thing and apologizing is something else. The results are entirely different.”
“I hope an organisation like PFA will not only respect and love dogs and animals, but also do the same for humans as Nagas do,” she added.