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Op-Ed

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego of ACAUT and the Future Challenges

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By EMN Updated: Dec 27, 2016 8:26 pm
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The ultimate-release of ACAUT leaders from Sub-Jail in Dimapur, Nagaland on December 16(2016) was more like the biblical heroes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out of the fiery furnace unburned! Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, ordered the three brave Hebrew young men to worship the idol that he created but they refused the king’s command and so were imprisoned. But miraculously they came out unscathed! Not even a single tinge of their hair was burned! In the present Naga socio-political context, the three ACAUT leaders – Joel Nillo Kath, Simon Helio and Hukiye Yepthomi may be exemplified as the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were imprisoned but came out unscathed! Of course, we have great leaders like KK Sema, T. Solo, a host of leaders from various NGOs and the Church. As given in the above caption, a quick reading of Daniel chapter 3 (from the Christian Scriptures) reminds usthat the three young Jewish men were thrown into the fiery furnace by king Nebuchadnezzar and his men for not worshipping the idol promoted by the king. As we read this favourite story from the Hebrew Bible, it reminds us of the “Faith and the Furnace.” Just because these three Bible characters refused to bow before “the golden statue” (v.14), they were bound and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. But,strangely enough, the king and his satraps saw “four men” walking in the middle of the fire (v.25). Visibly shaken and moved, the king ordered them out from the consuming fire. Once they came out, the king and his courtiers were in for another shock as none of their hair and bodies were burned and “not even a smell of fire came from them” (v.27).Finally, they were delivered from the blazing furnace. At this point, Nebuchadnezzar revered the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Now in Naga context, since December 15 episode in Khermahal police point, I as a conscious Naga citizen have been seriously thinking about what I could do about the socio-political rejuvenation that every right thinking Naga soul wants to bring about today. I have chosen to contribute my short treatise in support of the ACAUT movement and togive a challengeto my beloved Naga public of today to continue appreciating and supporting the movement spearheaded by ACAUT for a better Naga society tomorrow – free from the present corrupt regime and vicious cycles of rampant corruption.

The Present Stage on Which the Scene is Played
The present state of corruption in Nagaland is massive and deep-rooted. Fortunately, for the larger Naga public, there is a new Naga civil movement called “ACAUT” supported by a host of organisations. Having obtained sufficient information on the “pilferage of supply goods,” the ACAUT and CCN members on December 9 (2016) went to see the repackaging process of rice bags from “bigger (jute) to smaller (synthetic) bags” before sale at R.Z.Lotha Godown and M/S Lotha Trading Agency. Now, this action by the rights-activists was taken as an offence by the corrupt rice-dealers who happened to be the local and non-local businessmen, as we now know them. In the aftermath of go-downs fiasco, we also reliably learnt that there was a first information report (FIR) from the ACAUT and counter-FIR filed in the court from the ACAUT’s opponents. Things took an unexpected turn as the three ACAUT leaders were arrested on December 12 and imprisoned. When it was examined on which ground the three rights-activists were arrested, it appears that they were detained on flimsy grounds so as to shield the corrupt persons. Because ACAUT’s objectives is all-out war against corruption and illegal taxation, including unwarranted use of force by the state govt, the ACAUT led by its advisor Khekiye K.Sema and other office bearers and peace-activists wanted to demand the release of the three leaders unconditionally from the prison.

So, when our Naga brothers & sisters assembled that winter afternoon (December 15) in Khermahal police point to raise the voice against the PDS rice scam and demand the freedom of the innocent three, TR’s Govt machinery once again unleashed violence on the unarmed protesters. Instead of going after the PDS rice scammers, the peace-activists were instead forcefully poured with water cannons, tear-gassed, and lathi-charged for theirdissenting voices! It is now crystal clear that the peaceful activists were stopped mainly because the present Govt. did not want the corruption in F&CS department to be exposed. Instead of listening to ACAUT’s voice in pointing out the dishonest practices in F&CS and other high offices, the Nagaland CM helped by his honchos wanted the non-local rice dealers namely:Tinku Sethi & Nirmal Jain, and the local stockist R.Z.Lotha to be shielded from public shame, ridicule and possible punishment, if at all there is a punishment for these culprits! It is believed that more than two decades, the Naga public was deprived of the essential commodities such as wheat, kerosene, sugar, rice, and others. In other States of India, the PDS schemes are closely monitored and strictly implemented, but it is only in the Christian state of Nagaland, the PDS schemes are largely if not completely misused. What the other Governmental agencies like the State Vigilance Commission cannot do has been uncovered by ACAUT members. More than revealing the PDS rice scam, the aforementioned Naga civil movement has asked for a CBI inquiry. This is in the right direction. My only hope and humble appeal to my Naga public is that the Naga reformation started by ACAUT and exemplified by Naga Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego against PDS rice scam and all other scams should prevail. There is a demand for CBI Inquiry presently but we should not let the momentum slow down!The ACAUT’s movement is very much established according to the Christian principles such as: faith and courage, love and honesty, light and truth, justice and peace over the evil. The light and truth shall prevail over the darkness! We are all united in our fight against the “Naga Behemoth” (“a huge and monstrous creature”), represented by corruption.

A Quick Recap of the Naga Reformation Period
To me, the “Naga Reformation Period” of the 21st century was born on October 31, 2013 through the ACAUT’s Public Awareness Rally held in Dimapur, Nagaland. It was a massive Naga protest rally which was spearheaded by a civil body now popularly known as the “Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation” (ACAUT) under the aegis of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) and was attended by representatives from various Naga and non-Naga organisations based at Dimapur as well as the Church. Many enlightened speakers gave their heart-rending speeches against corruption and to “streamline the tax system so as not to overburden the common people.”Of all the public wishes on that rally day, the major demand was for “One Government, One Taxation!” that should be enforced on all Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) with effect from that day. So, a charter of demands including the above clause was formulated and put forward before the State Government of Nagaland by ACAUT. As a result, a “High Powered Committee” (HPC) headed Justice HK Sema, a retired Supreme Judge was constituted in August 2014 by the state government. Subsequently, ACAUT demanded that the “findings & recommendations” of HPC be implemented, as on July 2015. At the moment, only the State Government can tell whether the reports and recommendations of the HPC have been implemented.

The “Naga Conscience Movement”/ACAUT have come a long way since 2013.The Naga civil society and peace-activists have walked a long torturous way of fighting corruption which has in it – nepotism, bribery, unequal distribution of essential commodities, misuse of public or Govt funds, debauchery, lies, bad public roads, including religious apostasy/namesake Christianity, lies, lust of flesh, and all forms of sin. Realizing this sorry state of affairs in Nagaland and beyond, the ACAUT has kept the faith of our ancestors – both in traditional and biblical sense – and continues to fight the “Naga Behemoth.”The ACAUT is a movement that thrives on the adage “Honesty is the Best Policy.” It has the courage and faith to bring about a transformative change today for our better tomorrow. Realistically speaking, corruption has deprived us Naga public so much so that we did not get our rightful share of equal opportunities, and benefits of progress and development, and sadly giving us only the“bad public road” – the archenemy for Nagas’ progress and development.

The Future Stage on Which the Scene Willbe Played
The future of ACAUT Nagaland as a civil movement surely depends on realizing the demands put forward by it on the one hand and delivering the promises made by the State Govt on the other. But the answer from the “Powers-That-Be” is not the end in itself. Even if the government/s will come and go, yet the Naga civil society will remain forever! The various activities of ACAUT will never be erased from the minds of the people and the aspirations of the Naga people led by this movement must only be kept alive through frequent seminars and rallies if the “powers-that-be” fail the public. The ACAUT has encountered the “Naga Behemoth” in the form of Illegal Taxation, Job-Scam/s, Kerosene Adulteration Racket, PDS Rice Scam. All the conscious Naga citizens are looking forward to seeing the light of day to all these forms of “Naga Behemoth.” In other words, the conscientious Naga public is hungry with a renewed vigour for the development benefits of the Nagaland State even after attaining 53 years of statehood. Let us not be weary and fatigued while fighting with the Naga Behemoth! The day for our victory is surely coming!

However – there is still a far greater challenge for ACAUT and progressive Nagas. Even while waiting for the fulfilment of these demands as mentioned above – there lies a topmost challenge before the ACAUT, which is to demand for a GOOD PUBLIC ROAD in Nagaland. To me, the “Bad Public Road” as we have been provided with by our Government so far is the “Single Impediment to Nagas’ progress and development.” Can we remove this obstruction before us? I believe we can! Provided we are positive, faithful, unwavering in our efforts, we can overcome this obstruction to our rightful living. The innocent Naga public deserves better! We the Naga people deserve good public road in the cities, towns and villages. But where do we begin? The answer is simple. Remove corruption, Period. Our State Govt has failed us to provide us good public roads unlike many progressive states in India. Let us take one fine example of public road development.

For instance, my recent research period to the United States of America showed me that all the American roads (both their Interstate and Country roads) are so good and spacious enough that even an Aeroplane can land on their public roads anytime! This is not an exaggeration. They know better. All those of you who have been to that Christian country can testify it to my narration. Back in India, even the neighbouring state governments of Nagaland have realized that the only sure way to progress and development is having “good public roads.” Good Public Road. Period. If we remove corruption, we can be a “Model Christian State” like we claim. As I conclude, let me state it clearly: let us rise up from our slumber and build our dear home state, that is, a Nagaland free from Naga Behemoth!The points that I have raised and discussed in the foregoing paragraphs have arisen out of my genuine desire for faith and honesty in times of corruption in public and high offices in our State of Nagaland; reposing our faith on our Naga Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos. They are the ACAUT Nagaland leaders. In the present Naga generation, the ACAUT is the harbinger of hope, progress and development. May God bless our beloved Naga people and a prosperous Nagaland in the coming years, Amen!–

Dr. S. Temjen Imchen
Associate Professor
Serampore College
(The writer can be reached at temjenba@gmail.com).

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By EMN Updated: Dec 27, 2016 8:26:28 pm