A thought on the Kuki-Naga Clash: A call for reconciliation

The Naga-kuki clash of 1992 to 1997 has deep scars of fearful and  painful memories for both the communities. The conflict brought so much  of sufferings to both the communities on all sides of life. The violence  of that time brought so much of miseries to individual’s life and  communities at large. Many children became orphans, many parents lost  their sons, many women became widows and many villages were burned down,  forcing villagers to evacuate and fled to safer village or place. And  as we remembered the horrendous incident 25 years after, it is but  moments of regret and pain. How can we as people ever succumbed to such  bestial carnage? The more one ponders upon the sad incident one is  reminded of how thinly veiled our human sanity is, how little can an  individual withstand the challenges forced upon each of us when faced  with communal discourse that comesalong concealed with sense of  community and loyalty to each tribe and communities.

The recent observation of Sahnit -Ni (Black day) by the Kuki  community and the erection of three monoliths with the victims’ names  written on all four sides as victims of ‘genocide’ and the hoards of  leaders both secular and ecclesiasts takingpart and yet churning out  different narratives for their participations speaks volumes about what  has truly become of the horrible incident, when used by different people  for their own justification. Can we both courageously do a  truth-telling about how we have hurt each other A church minister after  participating and taking part as the main speaker quoted love,  forgiveness and brotherhood from the Bible. While certain kuki  nationalist leaders took it as a perfect platform to further their  demandfor Kuki homeland and other similar demands. As for the Memorial  stone’s inscription, it clearly speaks of the festering collective  emotions of abhorrence towards a certain tribe.

Forgetfully or so, it seems the inscription on the plaque carefully  ignored or chose toignore the collective participation of the kukis and  other naga tribe. And yet having used the occasion to paint the other as  the perpetrator, the genocidal tribe, the questions still remains; can  the branding of the Nagas as genocidal community cleansed the kukis of  all their anguish and pain? Would it in anyway bring back the dead to  life? Would such act of naming a tribe/community absolved the crime that  both the parties committed during the carnage?For many of us the memory  of looking back has become a ritual of reviving the old wounds to be  scrutinized from the bitterest point of view, thus casting the “others”  as the sole perpetrator.

Thus, entirely losing the point of knowing; What went wrong? What was  the Madness? Rather than asking and accepting how deeply both the  communities have dehumanized each other, killed each other, degraded  each other-wherever and whoever it comes from in their madness? Thus, in  the process, establishing a path to deep understanding and connection.  Many villages of nagas and kuki were burnt down. Many died, and yet many  survived from the journey of fearful death. We hear miraculous stories  of how God in his Devine plan saved some of us and we hear stories of  how they escaped from death. Our escapes, Our survivals are now stories  of choices.

The miracle of having escaped from the jaw of death can now be either  handed down to the younger generation throw our narratives to be  ensnared in the web of hatred and bitterness or be an instrument in  liberating ourselves from the bondage of bitterness and fear. Survivors  of both sides definitely have a choice. The choice to inherit the horror  or the choice of “forgiveness” as a living testament.Few years ago, a  kuki brother came to visitour home and shared his story of how his only  sister was killed during the naga – kuki clash. It was a painful story  of loss and betrayal. For the first time my husband and I shed tears  with a Kuki for his loss, though we have never been part ofthe conflict.

For the first time the loss was real and painful because our friend’s  story was a journey of finding the truth about forgiveness. That friend  opened up his heart and touched, and opened our hearts more when he  admitted that he too felt sorry for those nagas whose loved ones’ lives  were cut short by his own tribemen’s rifles and dao. It opened our eyes  to see how deeply the love of Christ runs into this man’s heart- To feel  pain yet to understand the pain of others. Suchabundant mentality to  love and forgive when it is hard, not only brings healings for the self  but it opens the eyes of by-standers like us, our own prejudices  forothers.

Our friend could have taken the road of bitterness and hatred but  rather took the restorative and healing approach to rebuilt  relationships within his community and beyond. Our friend opened the  first school for the village next to his village which was a Naga  village. Rather than choosing to bury himself in the bitterness our  friend chose hope and reconciliation.The memories of trauma continue to  live on in us. It is now on us whether to nurture bitterness or hatred  to the coming generation or to leave a courageous story of lesson learnt  revealing the past wrongdoing and to move on in the hope of resolving  left over from the past. It’s about time for all of us to help bring  healings and reconciliation by uncovering the true inhumane act of and  within ourselves.

It is time we engage each other more intentionally and more  courageously to have an open conversation and talk about the truth of  how we have hurt and killed each other and work towards repairing the  harm caused to each other for complete healing and restored the  relationships. Could we sit together and speak the truth of how we have  harmed each other? And work towards repairing the harm caused toeach  other.

(Eliza is an advocate base in New Delhi, She is a Director at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ) New Delhi)

16-Sep-2018 /Eliza Rumthao

Subscribe to Nagajournal

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.