Rights activist justifies Nagas cause for sovereignty

Rights activist justifies Nagas cause for sovereignty
Mokokchung, May 16 (EMN): The Nagas struggle for sovereignty got a bolster from a human rights activist and writer Dr Bela Bhatia who said that the demand of the Naga elders for an Independent homeland was legitimate because the land never belonged to India. “A historical injustice has been done to the Naga people,” she said talking with Eastern Mirror recently in Mokokchung.
She was aggrieved that since the very dawn of independence from British rule, Indian government could not respect the rights and aspirations of others struggling for freedom and sovereignty. Stating that Indians were subjugated and suffered under the colonial rule for so long, she viewed that, at the very least, the suffering would have taught the people never to inflict the same suffering on others.
She was of the opinion that India could have decided to be a different nation and reciprocate respect to the struggles of neighbours for self-determination and help create a south-Asia where co-existence of big and small countries was possible based on mutual co-operation.
She also questioned on why India should think that a small country cannot exist on its own and submerged with them.
“Why should the Indian government annex territory that does not belong to them? The government says that they believe in non-violence, then why does it not listen to the legitimate demand of a people when put forward non-violently? she questioned. She was of the opinion that rejection of the legitimate claim forces the people to take up arms struggle, adding that when they do so, government crushes them by imposing draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act?
She said untold and completely avoidable suffering has been caused to the people of the region. “All these are in direct contradiction with our notion of what democracy is,” she averred
Madam Bela was studying the Naxalite movement in different parts of India and was introduced to the Naga issue when in university. When asked to comment on the present situation, she said: “The present stand and actions of the Manipur government makes a mockery of the peace process. The simple desire of the Naga leader to visit his village could have been met in a dignified manner. Instead, the heavy deployment of paramilitary and police at the border between Manipur and Nagaland has created conditions for the very tension that the government claims it wanted to avoid.
“It is very odd that the central government should give permission for his visit and the Manipur government should create every possible hurdle and also take recourse to violent suppression of peaceful protests by the people in the border areas,” she retorted.
Stating that the ability to respect each other was the first pre-requisite to achieve peace, she rued that the belligerent stand of the state and central governments gave discouraging indications regarding the state of the peace process.
When asked about her views as a responsible citizen towards a solution of the present conflict, she said: “police and paramilitary should be withdrawn from the region immediately. This is the basic minimum required so that the situation can become normal again and those displaced due to the conflict are able to return to their homes.”
She also remarked that “suitable measures must be taken to escort Mr. Muivah to his hometown and to co-operate with him during the duration of his stay. This will strengthen the peace process, generate a greater confidence among the people in this region of India and give hope that an honourable solution will be found to this long-standing conflict.”

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