Who is Kacha Naga?

By:- Kundo Laishram *

The recent upheavals following Muivah's grand disastrous attempt to visit Manipur, raises certain interesting questions to my mind. These questions are not merely posed out of some emotional outburst of some Meitei fanatic leaders and their ultra-patriotic exhibitionism in protecting Manipur's territorial integrity. These questions rather pours out incessantly from the mind of a meitei, who had spend a good number of years in the past in Nagaland and has had very fond memories of the Naga community.

I am not only very well versed with the local dialect of the Naga's which is "Nagamese" but I am also very familiar with the Naga day to day lifestyle. I find the Nagas of Nagaland very commendable for inspite of being part of the larger Indian sub continent for decades now, they still seem to be very firmly rooted to their own cultural traditions and practices and never seem to be overshadowed by mainland India.

Looking at the number of years that I spend in Nagland, I believe I might be in a better position to represent the Naga Community rather than Mr. Muivah, who had lived most of his life in exile (mostly in exotic South Asian countries in opulence) totally alienated from the Naga Community ,he seems to have got totally disillusioned about the whole vision of Naga movement.

It was during my first dinner invitation to one of my Naga friends house that, I was introduced to the word Kacha Naga, Kacha in Nagamese means "raw" it is also used as a slang or derogatory word to mean "adulterated" or "disingenuous" or "bogus". The term Kacha Naga was usually used to categorize Nagas from Manipur: like Tangkhul, Kuki,Paite Mao and the other tribes. So, whenever I would address Tangkul or Kuki as Naga my friends would correct me and say they are not "Nagas" they are called as "Kacha Nagas". So, this was an accepted norm in Nagaland for Nagas to them meant exclusively only the Naga tribes of Nagaland which included only the following:

"Ao, Sema, Angami, Lotha, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchunger Lotha, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchunger and Zeliang".

I can still picturesque; when the first Naga-Kuki riots broke out how many Kuki students in Nagalnd had to leave schools in the middle of the academic year, as their parents had to flee immediately. Looking back at the Naga-Kuki historic bloodshed's the Kuki's in their recent press releases on Muivah's visit, seem to be pretty clear on their standpoint that, they do not want him in and around Manipur and out rightly termed him as a "Genocide leader".

However, I fail to understand the Tangkhuls stand's on Mr. Muviah, I wonder is it attributed to the weak memory of Tangkhul's or is it Muviah's so called charismatic leadership? The tangkhuls seem to have totally forgotten and ignorned the fact that, after the Naga-Kuki riots in Nagaland, what shortly followed was the wave of Naga-Tangkhuls heated up tensions.

During that period many Tangkhuls just like the Kukis were asked to unconditionally leave Nagaland immediately. This past stories might sound a rude shock to many of the Naga inhabitants of Manipur who consider Muivah as Demi-God and set a back to their collective dreams of "Greater Nagaland". However, these incidents in the past might sound fabricated to a few Manipur Naga's who consider the Nags from Nagaland as true blood brothers in the Nagalim context.

However, these are not some folk tales in the past but they are evidence based incidences ,which can be very well verified from many of the reputed Tangkhul families residing in Nagaland and their kids who had went underground during Naga-Tangkhul animosity phase in a bid to save their lives and their state service jobs, which they were asked out rightly to handover as they are " Kacha Nagas" and did not belong to the greater "Naga–hood".

In a land where Manipur Naga's are categorized as "Kacha Nagas" I fail to understand what is the greater good or merit in creating a Greater Nagaland? Would it mean a life of dignity for any of the Nagas of Manipur where they are ridiculed as Naga Wannabe's or " Kacha Nagas ". Sentiments among the Naga's presently in Manipur seem to run high, but would forming "Greater Nagaland" be in the best of their interest?

Besides would a Mr. Muivah who is also a Tangkhul be of any interest to the Nagaland Nagas to lead the Naga movement as a promising leader? To my mind at the moment, Muivah carving a greater Nagalim looks like bleak and a distant dream to me, considering that the masses in Nagaland do not instill their faith in a Tangkhul as a visionary leader.

Muivah might have had his strong hold when the Naga movement had evolved some decades ago but now the Nagas of Nagaland are clear on who they mean and term as "Nagas" and Tangkuls certainly are not included in it? Under this ever changing Naga movement, isn't it time that the Nagas of Manipur take informed decision and introspect on why they should be part of this movement of greater Nagaland? And also question their identity and self worth as to who they are and why they are termed as "Kacha Naga" in Nagaland?

The other fundamental question is if "Greater Nagaland" is not about greater Naga-brotherhood than what does this new wave of Naga movement signify? Does it have a religious connotation of the Hindu-Christianity animosity ? If yes, then, would Nagalim boundaries be only drawn upon Manipur or would it spill over to other NE States of Assam, Tripura & Mizoram?

What would constitute Nagalim's boundaries in the coming years is something to be pondered upon. It is also interesting to note GOI commitment & support to Muivah in creating another Gujarat Carnage in NE by inciting communal hatred. The only differential element is that this time it's not an RSS or a Bajarangdal leading the Carnage but it's rather "Muivah in the Manipur Rat Yatra" backed by the UPA government.

* Kundo Laishram contributes regularly to . The writer can be contacted at me(dot)khuman(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was webcasted at on 19th May 2010.

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