Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Tragedy at Mao and After....

May there be Peace in North-East part of my India!

May all the violent hostilities come to an end!

May all the commandos join back their families at home!

May Nagaland, Manipur witness serene Peace and Harmony!

Let the rulers of my great India do their bit to ease tensions!

Oh Mother Earth come to nurture and heal mothers in North-East!

Let the cloud of hostility fast dissipate into abyss!

Let joy, friendship and love smile on our brethren in strife region!

Let armed conflicts cease with immediate effects!

Let emergency come to an end!

My People here have all the courage to endure tyrannies plenty!

Oh my dear rulers in Delhi, its enough of bloodshed!

Thirst for blood and violence now must come to end!

This poetry is my bit towards harmony and peace in my troubled country!

Sebastian Rodrigues

This is a detail report below from Rose from the middle of Violence.

For those of us who had been looking forward to the national meet at Imphal on 'State repression and sexual violence against women', particularly from Nagaland, are shocked with the incidents of violence of the last fortnight, at the border town of Mao gate and its surrounding villages, which lies under the Govt. of Manipur.

For days,we tried to intervene as women from the Naga Mothers Association into the crisis that had threatened to erupt into another tragedy of violence at Mao gate.
The border town was sealed off and no Naga from Nagaland was allowed to enter the Mao Gate leading to Manipur, as we heard of hundreds of women participating in peaceful dharnas against imposition of section 144 ,curfew and militarization of the areas. On the 4th May, seven delegates of the NMA waited for two hours at the heavily fortified border, to finally get permission to meet the Inspector General of Police, Manipur in Mao. The appeal from the NMA was for restraint of forces and peace and we were witness to the strength of women's voices as we watched hundreds of women sitting in silent protest on the long road leading from Mao to Tadubi.

The tragedy of the 6th May was traumatic which has led to the senseless killing of two students by the Manipur commandos, hundreds wounded, particularly women ,still recovering in hospitals and more than two thousand men, women and children on record, displaced and seeking shelter in Kohima, Kidima, Khuzama and Dimapur with relatives and by the villages concerned. The team of Naga mothers and public leaders who had rushed to the border of Mao watched helplessly as armed IRB of Manipur Police refused to let us or even the Red Cross go over to help the wounded and dead. After much persuasion they allowed the Red Cross doctors and nurses carrying medicines to enter Mao. The medical team were of great help as the Mao hospital had little medicine an with 3 doctors was not ready for the hundreds of wounded who thronged their hospital. The NMA suplied medicines from Kohima which was transported through some of the Red cross to Mao. Two of us as Red cross volunteers were not allowed to enter Mao gate with the doctors, because the Police commando officer recognized the NMA officials. Two doctors, who had rushed with the Red Cross and had forgotten their ID card s were also not allowed to enter, even though the whole team claimed they were needed.The president of the Nags women union Grace Shatsang was herself wounded in the violence unleashed by the commandos, while leading the rally at Mao.

The displaced women and children have been helped now by the Government of Nagaland in a tourist heritage village called Kisama, where they are being provided food and clothes by different Naga organizations, tribal Hohos, churches. The NMA organised a Candle service with the displaced on Mothers Day and hosted the dinner at Kisama. There are hundred of children, pre school, school going and even college students who are huddled up with their mothers in these shelters provided. When I visited them, as Rotary Club of Kohima, along with Doctor Rotarians in Khuzama village in the initial days, there were one thousand five hundred being hosted b y the small village which is adjacent to Mao on the Nagaland side..The whole community had come forward to help the women, children and the aged who came trekking through the jungles and fields seeking shelter from the guns and violence of the Manipur Police and Manipur Rifles. There were many cases of traumatized pregnant mothers and most of the children were suffering from shock and fever and flu, as our doctors checked patients. There was also a young mother with a one day old newborn who had escaped the violence. Most of the men had stayed behind as they were recklessly rounded up by the commandoes, beaten, kicked, hit with Rifle butts and shot in the legs, abdomen and treated like criminals on the run for protesting against state repression and for freedom of movement. These atrocities are captured on camera by visiting media people who were also caught in the rampage of the armed police commandoes.

Last night, video recordings of these terrifying atrocities in Mao gate carried out by forces that are kept to protect people, were shown for public viewing in all leading TV channels in Nagaland .We watched horrified, as they recklessly fired at the unarmed public, mostly women, who were beaten, kicked, shot and smashed with rifle butts, entering homes and houses bringing out men, even old men with their hands raised, to be assaulted, beaten and kicked on the streets of Mao like animals. Some of the commandos picked up stones and smashed windows of private vehicles parked along the road. Disgraceful acts of armed police caught on camera.

Two students o n the 6th May were killed, one was Loshuo, a B.A.2nd year student of sociology from St.Josephs college, Jakhama and the other Chakho, a graduate student of St. Josephs College, Bangalore. They had joined the protestors i n the peaceful rally, and were shot from behind by the commandoes. The post mortem report indicates bullet wounds through the heart and shots splitting the spinal column and lungs, when the NMA team visited the hospital at Mao. The Mao people refused to claim the bodies till their demands for withdrawal of armed forces and permission for entry of the Naga leader Muivah to visit his hometown was given by the Manipur Government. However, on the 11th, the Naga mothers (NMA) from Nagaland intervened by appealing to the United Naga Council to allow the NMA to receive the two bodies from police custody and give them an honorable burial. A team of twenty three Naga mothers from Nagaland were given permission to cross the border the next day into Mao, where families of the dead were waiting to receive the bodies from us. The President NMA Mrs.Abeiu Meru and I, as Advisor to the NMA were allowed by the Manipur police to receive and claim the two dead bodies of our children in the name of Naga mothers. The bodies of the two students were highly decomposed, kept in two coffins in the police station. They were taken to the village square by the villagers who remained and their funeral the next day was attended by thousands of Nagas from everywhere, with the Naga Students Federation declaring them as martyrs. Luoshuo had an aged paralyzed mother, whom he used to bathe and fed every day before he rushed to his college some kms inside the Nagaland border at Jakhama St.Joseph's college. His father had passed away and his elder brother driving a taxi was the sole bread winner and paying for his brother's education. Chakho was a brilliant student throughout, from a family of 8 siblings and studying in Bangalore St.Josephs. Two innocent students protesting armed state repression along with hundreds of others and killed.

The Naga Mothers organised a Peace Rally on 8th May, two days after the killings, on the border side of Nagaland with hundreds of women from different tribes, including men. Jaya V,our friend from PUCL Andhra Pradesh, was on her way to the Imphal meet, when it was cancelled and three of them were my guests in Nagaland and was witness to the tragedies. She spoke at the Peace rally in solidarity with the People. The NMA slogan of 'Shed No More Blood' of the nineties, was reiterated again that day with the appeal from women for restoration of peace, rights and justice in the area. Armed Manipur commandos in armored vehicles silently watched us, even in binoculars, as we held the rally on the Nagaland side of the border, on the main highway.

A Co=ordination Committee of Naga civil societies, consisting of the Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers Association, Naga Students Federation, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, United Naga Council, Naga Women Union and All Naga Students Association of Manipur, has been formed and an invitation was extended to the Manipur civil societies- the UCM and the All Manipur United Clubs Organization by us, for a peaceful dialogue in a neutral place like Guwahati on the 14th May , which has been turned down. This invitation was extended as there is a long economic blockade imposed by Nagas from hill areas, including the Naga students’ federation that has banned any vehicle of Manipur from crossing Nagaland, and essential commodities, fuel etc has been stopped and the valley is reeling from problems. The invitation for peace talks was also to avoid any further violence as the killings, violence and displacement has ended with the apex Naga body of all Tribes- the Naga Hoho calling the actions of the Manipur government an attack on the Naga nation itself, which may have very serious repercussions.

Today we stand in this deadlock. Many Govt. offices of Manipur has been burnt down by the people of the Hill areas in protest. Nagas wanting to leave the valley Imphal are reportedly being stopped and searched; some prevented from leaving .The situation is tense in both the states.

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