Khekiye K. Sema
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have just returned home after a rewarding experience in the ACAUT rally which was impressively responded to by the citizens of Dimapur including many more from other Districts. Hats off to all who braved the ban and the sun! Way to go people, way to go. Let me however first set the record straight. I had a vague feeling that I was being looked at as a member of ACAUT from the way people were speaking to me after the rally. I am not a member of ACAUT but I believe what they are doing is RIGHT. My support for a just cause is genuine and I wanted to show my support by being there in person and saying what was needed to be said rather than support it from a safe distance. Thousands did the same and I’m so proud of all who stood to be counted that day. I have assured the ACAUT members that my humble service would be available for them wherever and whenever required. What really warmed my heart and made me feel that my effort of the morning has been worthwhile was the enthusiastic response of the youth who, without exception, poured their hearts out to tell me “ for the first time we have been moved and motivated to do something”…” for the first time I felt proud to be a Naga” endless comments of such kind. This is good…real good. Know that a truly motivated younger generation can become the strongest catalyst to change. Are you all listening? Do you all hear me, out there? Remember what happened in our immediate neighbourhood of Assam when their Student Federation picked up the illegal immigrants issue? It momentarily paralysed the Government and a new Political Party (AGP) was born to change the political landscape. The issue of what AGP achieved when it came to power is not the focus. The issue of what youth can do is. If they could so can we. Frankly, nagging thoughts had bothered my mind all the way as I drove back to Kohima after the rally. Over the years I have often observed momentary outpouring of mass courage openly displayed while still with the crowd. This public courage gradually diminishes and finally disappears when the crowds are all gone and fear starts gnawing at your vitals once again as you get exposed to threats in solitude. We must not let this happen! WE MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!! We must be driven by a higher just purpose.
The dust of excitement has settled. “What’s next?” is a question in everyone’s mind I’m sure. I am sure ACAUT will be wrestling with this same question as well. Wallowing on the overwhelming success of the rally would be like dwelling in a fool’s paradise. The rally was just a wakeup call. It was just the beginning. The real test of our true character lies ahead. Future course of action needs to be carefully planned out. The normal tendency of the masses would be to wait on ACAUT to bring out their future plan of action for us to participate in, again. It should clearly and realistically be understood that ACAUT is manned by simple folks like you and I and just as much as it baffles us when a question of “What’s next?” comes up, it surely will be baffling them too. Would it be right for us to leave this issue to them alone to sort out or would you believe that you and I too have a shared responsibility to lend them a helping hand by bringing out constructive action plan proposals and suggestions beyond the point we have travelled so far, through serious brainstorming within your own crowd and have it coordinated with ACAUT eventually?
With or without ban, I had hoped that NTC would bravely pick up this “excessive taxation” yoke, which is the mother of all challenges that is devastatingly impacting everyone’s lives, as their highest prioritised agenda. Without doubt this is de heart piercing subject which has touched every living soul in Nagaland, which has perpetuated circumstances of existence devoid of opportunity and dignity. This includes them too. It is however obvious that they have prioritised other safer important issues perhaps because they themselves have been put under a ban. ‘Taking up the parental responsibility over ACAUT would amount to double jeopardy’ would perhaps be a safe argument to hide under without doubt. ‘By picking up the ACAUT baggage it could unnecessarily jeopardise their (ACAUT) already difficult case’ would be another good argument on their side. I’m trying to help them argue against my own point of view. All said and done the simple question that each living Naga needs to honestly answer to himself/herself first is “whether it is the right thing to do to stand up against injustice and tyranny?” or “do we do nothing and let this insanity to continue”? Depending on the honest answer to these questions it should propel each one of us forward towards finding a solution without leaving it to others to follow up… banned or not, threatened or not. It simply boils down to whether you have what it takes to stand up to injustice and tyranny. In 1789 the common man in France answered these questions in the form of a Revolution and beheaded their King. It was not as if the common Frenchman had a cake walk without threats, prosecution, torture and deaths from the ruling class. They faced all of this and still said enough is enough. They had what it took. Egypt and Libya saw the fall of their respective Governments and the likes of Mubarak of Egypt shook the world with his fall while Gaddafi of Libya was shot dead without a trial by his own people like the tyranny that he was. The citizens of those countries had what it took to face injustice and tyranny. Do we? We are not asking for the heads of the Faction leaders. Definitely not. Our plea to them is “please iron out your political differences and Unite and form one Naga National Government so as to facilitate relief to the common man to pay one tax to one Naga National Government”. That’s it… but we have no takers.
After riding on a high moral horse by pointing fingers at other NGOs for failure to uphold the Naga interest and aspiration the time has arrived for NTC to translate their accusation against others and otherwise prove their worth in action. In as far as I am concerned “unabated taxation” issue supersedes any other subjects of importance. This is my personal point of view. It is obvious that NTC does not agree. Rather than face the challenge head on by taking ACAUT under its wing directly, they too have resolved “to extend solidarity and support” to ACAUT just as was proclaimed by the State Government and the Naga Hoho. After all it is definitely safer to do so from a safe distance. Perhaps NTC will now understand that people’s perception of priorities differ. The Naga Hoho has achieved a despicable level of irrelevance by their initial endorsement of support for ACAUT followed by a pin drop deafening silence against the ban. I can’t find any more adjectives to describe their yellow canvas. So here we are: We still have no apex organization for the Nagas of Nagaland willing to shoulder the responsibility to rid ourselves of this heavy difficult burden that the masses are reeling under. NTC has a busy calendar to support the land owner’s rights as envisaged in the Article 371(A) which is good of course and deal with gender equity issues without having even one woman member in their entire organizational set up and also deal with the unspecified Naga aspirations whatever that means. At the end of the day I would rather salute Dimapur Naga Council for the courage they have shown to shelter ACAUT and help them on. Keep it up DNC you folks are worthy Nagas worth our respect.
I have spoken at length about the potentiality of youth as a catalyst of change. Think about it with care. Since all their elder brother and sister organizations have shied away from this responsibility I pose a serious question to the youth organizations, the NSF and ENSF: What say you? The voices you have heard in the Dimapur rally are voices that must be heard in every nook and corner of Nagaland if we are to see change happen. I have repeatedly written and spoken about a second plebiscite on “ONE TAX FOR ONE NAGA NATIONAL GOVERNMENT”. It is in your hands and mine to make this happen if we have the guts and the will to see it through. The Factions will never unite on their own when they each enjoy unrestricted and unquestioned authority to tax the masses at will in the name of “sovereignty” which is just another word for them to suck life out of the Nagas. It is more to do with their “ individual economic sovereignty” to live in comfort and style at the cost of you and I, the fearful common man. Unless they redefine this debased hypocritical form of sovereignty it is our inherent duty to say NO. Just because of our instinctive fear for guns we have remained silent thus far despite the torturous existence being inflicted upon us for so long. It is time to question all the Factions to let the masses, the tax payers, know where all our taxes have gone. Where or how has it been spent? We have the right to know as tax payers! WE HAVE A GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO KNOW. Nowhere in the world do people pay tax without knowing how it is being spent except in Nagaland… it is ‘Anti-National’ to raise such a question. It’s not that we don’t know. We definitely do know where it is going. The evidence of our taxes being spent are glaringly seen in every townships especially in Dimapur sector. The biggest buildings, the foreign SUV floating around, the landed properties you name it…our taxes are visibly written all over it. It would hurt anyone with a God given conscience to watch a mother shed desperate bitter tears, unable to provide two square meals a day to her child or a decent opportunity for her child’s education because of this rampant uncontrolled taxation, while the national workers flaunt their ill gotten wealth. We are not envious of them. Not one bit. God is there for sure and He will take care of all of them in His own patient time with our prayer support and a mother’s tears. It is this very personal greed which is dictating the need for bans and threats against any initiatives that appear on the horizon to question their misdeeds. It has nothing to do with sovereignty! From this you can clearly see that the Factions are not ever going to unite on their own accord. It is for you and I to induce the proceedings to its logical conclusion. How long can the people tolerate this… that is why you heard a thunderous voice which said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The Factions must have heard it too but more to their annoyance rather than acceptance of their defaults and the need to rectify them. NSF & ENSF we have a job to do don’t you think? Don’t leave this issue to ACAUT alone. They need serious help. We need to spread out. Think about it. I am a nobody but know that I would be with you all, all the way should you need me. This is my answer to “what’s next?”
As this is an important issue I am sharing my e-mail address in order to keep the communication channel opened: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to share your point of view.