ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond an Insider's Perspective

I am amused that after trashing Bela Bhatia’s piece (“Justice Denied to Tribals in the Hill Districts of Manipur”, EPW, 31 July), and reminding her of her position as an outsider who does not know the “complex” historical and political events of Naga history like an insider (referring to himself), Hiren Gohain points out that he nonetheless “admires their (Nagas) sturdy courage and independence of spirit”. After 60 years of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and a violent armed confl ict, the Nagas, like many other people in northeast India are dealing with the most inhuman faces of militarisation. They deserve a better line and not a lazy phrase culled from a colonial text on primitive tribes.

Having said that, what is Hiren Gohain’s perspective on Naga history? Even as Gohain points out the shortcomings of Bhatia’s knowledge about the prevailing political situation, his position as an “insider” is greatly disturbing because it comes from a well-respected intellectual. Not only is his understanding of Naga history based on a feudal and colonial reading of history, but his perspective about contemporary politics is equally prejudiced and fl awed.

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