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Op-Ed

A brief narrative presented by Neingulo Krome, Secretary General,NPMHR

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By EMN Updated: Nov 09, 2014 10:30 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hirteen years ago, on the 14th of August 2001, when the Government of India made a “U-turn” on the question of Ceasefire coverage area “without territorial limits”, thousands of Naga women formed a human-chain on the National Highway, dressed in their traditional attires, simply in a manner of saying that “peace should be everywhere and not confined to territorial limits”. The Assam Rifles personnel rose to the occasion likewise and dressed in civvies wrapped with Naga shawls and jackets too came to the Highway and started disturbing and disrupting the human-chain. Some of the community leaders informed me about this disturbing development and asked me what to do as they feared the worst may happen. I said I am coming, just keep things under control, even though it was just to show solidarity and to see things with my own eyes and to be with them and share my physical presence as an encouragement even if it may mean nothing.So I along with a friend and a journalist rushed up from Kohima to request the army not to disturb the peaceful conduct of the human-chain. On reaching the spot at Tadubi, I saw a tall man (who I later came to know was Captain K. K. Sharma, Commander of the 3rd Assam Rifles outpost at Tadubi) in the middle of the road surrounded by community leaders who were pleading with him. On the side of the road and above the road, I saw few Assam Rifles personnel in civvies hiding their guns under the shawls and jackets with the gun barrels sticking out. I quickly took out my Camera and took a few photo shots for evidence as I proceeded towards the man in the middle of the road who I was told was the person in command. Alas! Instead of me going over to meet him, he had already come over to me and was clawing at my hands trying to snatch my camera away from my hand resulting in the breaking of my camera lens cover as his finger nails tore into the skins of my hand. When I resisted and fought back, he drew out his pistol from the holster to shot me. But before he could point his gun at me, about half a dozen women leaders had already surrounded him and grabbed him from all corners pinning his arms and the pistol to his body. I took that opportunity to quickly run back and jumped into my car even as one of the Assam Rifles personnel in civvies took out his AK47 and fired a shot in the air which brought dozens of fully uniformed and armed personnel of Assam Rifles out of nowhere, marching towards me quickly as I started the car and raced off even as the Assam Rifle personnel started firing after my running car. I escaped but three people got injured in the firing from the bullets which missed me. If it were not for those courageous women making peace I would not be here today. In such a situation where women are making peace and saving lives, how should the voice of a man who owes his life to women in peace sound like? And I want to say that I have maximized this occasion to share this story for the record and to say “thank you” to those women whose identity I still do not know till date but will remember them for all times to come.The episode which I just shared is about one man whose life was saved by a conglomeration of women. How about One Woman who is sacrificing her everything protesting the death of 10 people who were killed under the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, and demanding the removal of this Act, and who has probably saved more lives than anyone of us will ever know? I say this because even if the Act has not been repealed, her protest is certainly serving as a deterrent at least to those sensible commanders and soldiers who are not equally insensitive even amongst the ranks and files of those who are operating under the purview of the Act. The least the rest of us, men specially, can do in such a situation is to salute the courage of this woman and confess that none of us could do what she is doing although it would have been such an encouragement if people could join her in batches and undertake fasting with her in solidarity even if they do not necessarily “fast unto death”.
So also, whenever there is any stand-off between armed groups, be it village feuds, factional fights, or Government forces with Political armed resistance groups, it is always the women who come in between to diffuse tensions and prevent escalations of violence. Men’s intervention often only adds fuel to the fire. The methods of peace-making may differ from place to place or the circumstances surrounding the events. But some of the glaring examples can be seen through the naked protest at the Kangla Fort. So also during the “Shiroi Siege” when there was stand-off between the Security forces and some members of the Naga army which lasted for about a month when water and power supplies to the Naga army camp were cut off, and the Naga army camp rounded with electrified barbed wires with impending gun-battle looming large, the women folks stood their ground in between the two forces and compelled them to ultimately withdraw. Similarly, there are so many incidences where women in hundreds had to physically chase away gun-wielding armed groups in several parts of Nagaland over the years. Therefore, I entirely agree with Prof. Gogoi when he said that women become active agents of change by negotiating peace and also by fighting violently for peace, which I saw in the abstract of the brochure of this conference.
Therefore, men ought to be grateful that women in peace are everywhere in keeping with the saying that; since God could not be everywhere all the time He created mothers or read it as women as may be in this case. On the other hand, there is an old Naga saying; that if there were no peacemakers there will be no war. Will that also mean if there were no women, men will also stop fighting?
Thank you!

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By EMN Updated: Nov 09, 2014 10:30:22 pm