The Global Naga Forum (GNF) has strongly condemned the “Indian armed forces’ occupation of nine Naga villages in Manipur”.
The GNF said in a statement on Wednesday that the Assam Rifles has suddenly moved into the Ukhrul district of Manipur in full force and occupied nine villages without the consent of the Naga village authorities.
According to the GNF, these are peaceful villages belonging to the “Tangkhul indigenous people” who have rights to their lands and way of life guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. It also said that there are no anti-government activities going on there, nor law and order issues, nor anti-social problems.
“So the Government of India owes an explanation for the unnecessary military intrusion in the lives of peaceful citizens,” the GNF further said, adding, “It owes it to the people of these villages first and foremost, but also to the country as a whole since India is still a constitutional democracy, not a military dictatorship”.
The GNF statement then said that people familiar with the Indian Government’s treatment of the Nagas know that the military occupation of these villages will be defended as legally permissible under the 1958 Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“But the same people also know that Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution guarantees Nagas the right to their lands and customary laws,” it said.
“So, why is the Government of India acting in self-contradiction by sending armed forces to forcefully occupy peaceful Naga villages?” the GNF asked.
On the one hand, the GNF said that India is violating its own law protecting Naga rights (Art. 371 (A), and on the other, it is enforcing another law (AFSPA) that takes away the same right, in clear violation of Naga people’s basic human rights. “What we see here is a government in opposition to itself when it comes to Nagas,” the GNF stated. “And the result is that Nagas are put in a no-win situation vis-a-vis India”.
The GNF statement then said that the latest development in Ukhrul district proves, “yet again, this well-worn fact going as far back as 1947: For India, Nagas are born losers, barbaric rebels, lawless ‘undergrounds’, ‘gangrene’ on India’s body politics, who must be ‘exterminated’ -- to quote some Indian prime ministers”.
It added, “So, in 2022, with the Indo-Naga peace negotiations at an impasse, the Nagaland state elections due in a few months, the Oting and Mon murder of 14 innocent civilians by the Indian armed forces behind us without the guilty being prosecuted, now comes the Assam Rifles’ forceful occupation of nine peaceful villages in Ukhrul”.
The Global Naga Forum then questioned the intent and purpose of the intensifying military build-up in Ukhrul district.
“We ardently appeal for immediate intervention by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister if they are truly sincere in finding a non-military resolution of the Indo-Naga problem,” the GNF added.