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Op-Ed

Expulsion of Changki Village Ayim Asem Sanger from Ao tribe

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By EMN Updated: Oct 16, 2014 10:11 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he issue of conflict between the Changki Ayim Asemsanger ( Changki village) and the Changkiri (Enrem) clan was brought to the notice of the Ao Senden on 3rd August 2006 . Since then the entire Ao community has expended lot of time, energy and effort aimed at bringing about an understanding and amicable solution to the conflict. In its Endeavour to bring in normalcy, understanding and reconciliation among the conflicting citizens of Changki Village, the Ao Senden (Hoho) for the past eight years have relentlessly pursuit all possible ways and means as per customary norms, but to no avail. Having exhausted all possible means, the Ao Senden, in its Federal Assembly dated, the 10th October, 2014 took the resolution to expel the citizens of the Changki Ayim Asemsanger from the Ao tribe for one generation (traditionally taken as 30 years). Besides this, the Ao Senden also resolved that, henceforth, the Enrem Changki members and those Changki citizens who were expelled from the Changki Village by the Changki village authority be returned to the village and that all civic and traditional rights as previously held by them should be restored.
An account of some vital facts to be noted in connection with the Changki village crisis: The Ao Senden takes the opportunity to apprise the people on the issue and important proceedings concerning the Ao community on the Changki Village imbroglio since 3rd August 2006 till the 10th of October, 2014.
Since the issue went public in 2001, many concerned citizens, organizations and churches have been making endless effort to bring sensible solution to the problem. In the meanwhile, a group of peace makers from the village numbering 32 persons who tried to mediate and bring understanding between the conflicting parties were all personally imposed a fine of one life pig each as punishment for what was seen as going against the diktat of the Changki village authority by the village council (32 pigs as fine on 9th June, 2007). During this period the Changkiri (Enrem) clan were denied all civic rights in the village and subjected to untold hardships, the kind unheard of and unknown in Ao society.
Through these trying times, the Ao Senden has, with the spirit of patience and good will, have relentlessly pursuit efforts to bring about a solution to the issue. Unfortunately, the village authority of Changki Village under the nomenclature of Changki Ayim Asem Senso Mungdang (CAASM) have not paid any heed to the advice and directives of the Ao Senden for settling the issue as per Ao Customary norms. On the contrary the leaders of the CAASM have repeatedly contravened the directives of the Ao Senden and actively went against it on many occasions through distortion of facts and misleading the public in the process. To cite a few instances:
1. On receiving the news of the decision the evict the clan of the Enrem changki from Changki on 20th April,2008, the three frontal organizations of the Ao community i.e., the Ao Senden, the Watsu Mungdang (the apex Ao women’s organization), and the Ao Kakatshir Mungdang (the apex Ao Students body) rushed to Changki village on the 21st April morning to meet the Changki village authorities with appeals to revoke the decision. However, the village authorities kept them waiting till 11:00 p.m at night before conceding to meet them. While the meeting was ongoing, there was a public announcement in the village that all outsiders/strangers should immediately leave the village premises (out of the village gate). This was a great insult to the Ao community represented by the three apex bodies that were there only on a good well mission. Subsequently, despite the appeal, the Changkiri (Enrem) clan was physically evicted from the village at 3.00 am in the morning on 21st April, 2008.
2. As per the Ao Naga tradition the Ao Senden suggested that the conflict may be sorted out through the thrusting of spears by the two conflicting parties to testify their stance of truth or falsehood as was the ultimate practice among the Ao Naga forefathers. However, the leaders of the CAASM turned down the suggestion.
3. Next, the Ao Senden suggested for a joint meeting on 25th June, 2008 to explore possibilities of resolving the problem. However, the leaders of the CAASM were aversed to a joint meeting with the Ao Senden in presence of the Changkiri (Enrem) clan. Therefore, conceding to the wishes on the leaders of the CAASM the Ao Senden held separate meetings with the two conflicting parties. Therein, the Ao Senden clearly elucidated the good old traditional practices of the Ao community and impressed upon the Changki village authority to revoke their action and recall the evicted villagers unconditionally on or before 18th July, 2008.
Accordingly, on 17th July, 2008, accompanied by members of the Ao Churches and well wishers, the evicted villagers were taken back to Changki Village but in what can be termed as an insult to the Ao community and to the civil world in general, the accompanying church members and well wishers were not even allowed to enter the village gate.
4. Thereafter, the returned members of the Changkiri (Enrem) clan were subjected to even more harsher and humiliating treatment, an instance of which can be seen in the physical assault and punishment of an old man of 80 plus years old G.B from an Enrem clan. Such retributive actions can be regarded as a direct challenge to the Ao Senden decision and the community in general.
5. In spite of these challenges, with utmost patience the Ao Senden once again convened an open public meeting of the Ao Citizens on the 15th july, 2008 with the best intention of settling of the Changki imbroglio where the following resolutions were taken:-
a) That henceforth, the Ao tribe breaks all social ties with the Changki Village (CAASM).
b) That the Changki villagers (CAASM members) will be barred from all socio-cultural organizations of the Ao Community.
c) That no Changki villager (CAASM members) will be allowed to enter Ao territory (as per traditional norms).
Subsequent upon this, on 26th june, 2009 the CAASM declared through the Tir Yimyim (Ao vernicular newspaper) that they do not recognize the existence of the Ao Senden. Further, distancing themselves from the Ao tribe, they declared that they have not migrated from Jungliyimti and koridang which is widely believed to be source of origin and point of dispersion respectively of the Ao Nagas.
6. Despite such resolutions, after a gap of two years, the Ao Senden in a spirit of good will proposed to the Changki village authority to come under the fold of the Ao tribe provided they were willing to rectify their erroneous practices that went contrary to the Ao customary law and values. They were given thirty (30) days to meet these conditions. Accepting these conditions, the Changki Village Authority on 29th July, 2011 agreed on the given conditions and to abide by the Ao customary law and practices. This decision was conveyed to the Ao senden in a letter duly signed by Mr Rongsen Changkiri, Changki Village Council Chairman and Mr Imtinungba, Council Secretary. The very next day, on 30th July 2011, four members of the Changkiri (Enrem) members namely Mr Maongkaba, Mr Tekasangba, Mr Imtinokcha, and Mr Imzangluba, were expelled from the village. By then almost all able male members of the changkiri Clans were evicted from Changki Village to the point that there were occasions when women members were compelled to dig the graveyard at the time of the demise of the clan members which is much against the Ao traditions.
7. In its continued effort to prevent the unlawful and inhumane acts of the CAASM towards the Changkiri (Enrem) the Ao Senden, once again summoned the CASSAM on 17th July, 2014. In the course of the meeting, the most provoking matter was the presentation of deliberate lies by Mr. E.T. Senep IAS (Rtd) who went on to declare that “since 29th July,2014 the Changki village authority were adhering to and practicing according the directives of the Ao Senden, thereby implying that there is complete normalcy in the Changki village.” In his highly orchestrated lecture using all sorts of accusations Mr. E.T. Sunep IAS (Rtd) went to the extent of insulting the Mokokchung district customary court (Dobashi Court). Consequently, on 21st July 2014 the Dobashi court, Mokokchung summoned Mr E.T Sunep and imposed a fine of one life pig as per the traditional norms of punishing the guilty.
Such are the ways in which the CAASM leadership has repeatedly insulted and undermined the different institutions and organizations of the Ao community.
8. Having exhausted all possible means of settling the issue and taking into account the flagrant disrespect for the agreements arrived with the Ao Community by the CAASM leadership, and the continued persecution of the Changkiri (Enrem) clan, On 17th July, 2014, the Ao Senden imposed the customary penalty of seven life cows to the Changki Village authority. On the request of the CAASM leaders the Ao Senden allowed a grace period of six days for complying with the Ao Senden ruling. However, after six days the Ao Senden received a letter from the CAASM leadership stating their rebuttal of the Ao Senden ruling. Such willful acts of disobedience and distortion of the aged old norms, values and practices of the Ao community and pretense of repentance at certain points only to revert back to status quo of complete disregard of the agreements and directives from the apex body of the community is the ultimate insult and challenge to the community as a whole which is a threat to the very foundation that holds the Ao community together.
Let it be known to one and all that the future of our community rests upon upholding the values of truth and honesty with forbearance and dignity. The Ao Senden hence, sincerely calls upon the rest of the Ao community to desist from emulating the nefarious actions as exhibited by the Changki village authority. Let the penalty befallen upon the Changki Village serve as an example to all people.
Some steps to be taken by all Ao Naga citizens in light of the expulsion of the Changki village (CAASM)
1. No member of CAASM should be inducted into any socio-cultural body of the Ao tribe. The concerned organization/s would have to bear the consequences for failure to abide with this directive.
2. The Ao Senden will extend all possible help and cooperation to the Changkiri (Enrem) Clan and to any other Changki citizen who expresses the wish to remain within the fold of the Ao community.
3. Henceforth, should any member of Changki village creates a problem against any member of the Ao community, the community as a whole will deal with it.
4. Henceforth, should any problem befall upon any member of the CAASM within Ao territory, it shall be of no concern of the Ao community.
The Ao Senden calls upon all Ao citizens to be abide by all these resolutions.

Prof. Sangyu Yaden Tsupong Longchar
President Gen. Secretary

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By EMN Updated: Oct 16, 2014 10:11:56 pm