KOHIMA: Naga youths who have been traumatised of recurring bloody clashes between different tribes throughout the state want an end to the violence for the sake of progress and Naga unity.
Clashes among various Naga tribes have been occurring long since the different tribes came under the umbrella term of 'Naga' and war between tribes would lead to headhunting. A total of 17 tribes in the state identifies themselves as 'Nagas'.
Though it is widely believed that the practice of severing enemy head as a trophy of victory was long discontinued after adoption of Christianity and modern ethos, a Naga youth of Chang tribe from Tuensang district of northern Nagaland claims that last headhunting occurred as late as 2001.
"Many youths were killed during clashes with Konyak tribe. Their heads were severed during a clash in 2001," said Himlan Chang of Tuensang district.
"Lot of ethnic clashes happen between different tribes in Tuensang district. After one clash between Changs and Yimchungers, I was sacred to go to a birthday party of a friend of Yimchunger tribe. Even though we had cordial
relations, we underwent a lot of insecurity," Himlan said.
According to Himlan, most of the clashes are related to land. "People will die but not give an inch of land to other tribes," he said. "Four Chang youth of Class XI died last year due to clan clash.
More clashes will take place in Tuensang district," he fears.
However, apart from land, in the past long brewing rivalry and thirst for revenge have also resulted in bloody feuds.
Thomas, a youth of Yimchunger tribe claims that in several instances people of rival tribe even burnt churches of their perceived enemy. "Even though we are Christians and Nagas, during a war, everyone becomes blind. This should stop or we will never progress. We have lost a lot. We can't carry on like this forever," he said.
"Precisely our Naga independence movement also took a great hit due to this internal conflict. When we can't think above our respective tribes, how can we identify ourselves as Nagas of a Naga nation?" said Jennifer of Angami tribe.
The Naga secessionist movement has witnessed periods of bitter internal conflicts in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, leading to deaths of many militants, also weakening the movement as a whole in the process.
The Indian government has extended peace process with the Isak-Muivah faction of militant group National Socialist Council of Nagaland in Nagaland but not with the Khaplang faction based in Myanmar.
Linoka Chase from Kigwema village feels Hornbill Festival is important for all Naga as it tries to bring them together forgetting their internal feuds. "At Hornbill, we see immense cultural exchanges between tribes. People feel
themselves as Nagas, at the same time being proud of their respective tribal culture and heritage," she said.