TODAY -

Merry X-mas To All - For A Peaceful-2009

Robert Lanky *

The chiming of Church bells, singing of carols reverberating in the air, the colourful buntings and lighting of the Star heralds the arrival of X-Mas and ushering of the New Year. For me, the merriments of X-Mas and the celebrations of the New Year is of special importance; with many a thoughts and emotions of the year that has just passed by.

2009 is significant for Nagaland. '2009 Most successful year for Govt' echoes the Chief Minister Rio. I say not because of the just concluded 'Hornbill Festival'-showcasing all the tribes under one umbrella and the beautiful projection of the rich ethnic Naga culture to the outside world. But, for a simple and obvious reason.

A cursory glance in the familiar website of 'SATP' displays a graphic chart of insurgency related fatalities of the North East and elsewhere in the country. Here for a change - a change for the better, Nagaland records the lowest fatalities in 2009 during the last one decade.

Nagaland registered 201 fatalities out of 307 insurgency related incidents in 2008 according to Ministry of Home Affairs and South Asian Terrorist Portal. The year 2009 has seen only 94 such incidents, claiming the lives of 17 persons till December 15. However sources from state govt and police are confirming only 15 fatalities during the year instead of 17.

The number of insurgents killed comprise nearly 59 per cent of the total fatalities in 2009; the majority ascribed to inter-factional killings. From the available data, it indicates that nine insurgents were killed in ten inter- factional clashes in the state; six cadres of NSCN (K), one of NSCN (IM) and two from relatively insignificant Naga National Council (NNC). All these clashes were concentrated in three of Nagaland's 11 districts ; seven such clashes occurred in Dimapur while two clashes were reported from Wokha and Kohima each.

The Naga insurgency in India's troubled North East has, over the year lapsed into fratricidal turf wars and the trend in 2009 demonstrate a continuation of this trajectory, though the steady acceleration of violence since 2001 appears to have been dramatically reversed.

From a peak of 201 fatalities in 2008- overwhelmingly resulting from fratricidal clashes between the various militant factions fell to 17 in 2009. Nevertheless, even with this diminished intensity, Nagaland retains its third place in terms of violence amongst the states of India's troubled Northeast; behind Manipur (360) and Assam (336).

INSURGENCY-RELATED FATALITIES IN NAGALAND: 2001-2009 TILL DEC 15

Year Civilians 'Security Forces' Insurgents Total
2001 16 01 65 82
2002 16 03 71 90
2003 13 03 70 86
2004 42 00 55 97
2005 28 1 70 99
2006 29 02 116 147
2007 44 01 109 154
2008 68 03 130 201
2009 7 0 10 17

Source :MHA & SATP

CASUALTIES OF TERRORIST VIOLENCE IN NAGALAND-2009
Month Civilians 'Security Forces' Terrorists Total Jan 1 0 1 2
Feb 0 0 2 2
Mar 0 0 1 1
Apr 1 0 0 1
May 0 0 1 1
Jun 2 0 0 2
Jul 3 0 0 3
Aug 0 0 0 0
Sep 0 0 2 2
Oct 0 0 3 3
Nov 0 0 0 0
Dec 0 0 0 0
Total 7 0 10 17

The dramatic reversal of fatalities from 201 in 2008 to 17 in 2009 and lesser inter - factional clashes certainly called for an introspection, although it has brought in a relatively peaceful atmosphere in 2009. Personally, I wish that Nagaland should not feature at all in the said website in future.

Speaking to various sections of the society; the think- tanks, scholars, prominent journalists, NGOs, clergies, student leaders and all those who matter, it emerged that it is due to the collective effort from all the sections of the Naga society which has paid the 'great dividend'. But for most, it was the effort of the common people who dared to come out in open and criticised their 'Naga Brothers' for the blood shed.

Consequently the 'peoples will' forced the Church-led Naga Reconciliation Forum (NRF) with representations from 42 community groups and both the Naga factions to organise reconciliatory meetings both within and outside the country. Two such Meetings were organised at Chiang Mai in Thailand during June and September 2009.

The NSCN (IM), NSCN (K) and NNC made "Declaration of Commitment" in the September Meet and affirmed their total commitment to work together in the spirit of love, non-violence, peace and respect to resolve outstanding issues among themselves. They also pledged to cease all forms of offensive activities in toto. Not with standing the joint commitment at least three NSCN (K) cadres were reportedly killed by rival NSCN(IM) militants in Dimapur and Kohima; post the Declaration. What an irony?

What makes the common man to feel happy about the diminishing trend in violence rate, abduction and inter- factional killings in the state is reversed by the increased rate in taxation from various factions. Unlike in the past where a particular region was making 'voluntary social contribution' (illegal taxes) to one faction only, now they have to pay to NSCN (IM), NSCN (K), NNC and other sub factions too!!

Consequently, the common men are being multi-taxed and the impact is being felt but less talked about for obvious reasons. But the undercurrents are strong and the resentment will surface sooner than later.

The days are not far off when a collective voice will be raised by the people & the society against this menace. In these days of festivities, the hole in the pocket is becoming more pronounced juxtaposed with spiralling costs of items.

Nevertheless, I extend a merry X-Mas and Happy New Year to the people and all sections of the State and my compliments to them for making 2009 significant and peaceful. Let us hope and pray that He blesses us all for everlasting peace & prosperity in future too.


* Robert Lanky contributes to e-pao.net regularly . The writer can be contacted at robertlanky(at)gmail(dot)com
This was webcasted on December 25th, 2009.


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