Nagalim: New Psychological Warfare Policy by the Government of India
A Naga International Support Center, Nisc,
A human rights organization
Amsterdam, August 25 2004
The Beauty and the Beast
New Psychological warfare policy by the Government of India
While the usual suppression is carried out as a matter of routine and direct and indirect threats by military and para-military are being stepped up even at time of cease fire, the Indian authorities have silently launched a policy aiming at winning the hearts and minds of the Nagas. The military, backed up by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which enables Indian Forces to do anything they please and no doubt are commanded to do whilst they cannot be held accountable for their actions.
The Assam Rifles not only primarily deploy guns but now also do supply incentives like development funding and they do initiate welfare too.
(Reports and protests on the dreaded AFSPA are currently being reported upon)
A recent example of the stepped up control by showing domination, reported july 10th:
‘The NSCN (I-M) Kilonser Chawang said that "heavy frisking, body search along the road leading towards CHQ (Hebron) and GHQ at various junctions, lurking around in civil dress with arms near Doyapur in the East, Lilian Kuki village in the South West and sealing the whole border part of Assam near our HQs" was aimed at creating tension. ‘
There is nothing very unusual about that kind of oppressive behavior. Another seemingly friendly, kind and positive policy is being implemented.
This policy, that could have a strong impact on the people, is hardly noticed by the media.
Where formerly the Assam Rifles would make arrests without charges and storm in to invade a home without a warrant to investigate; now the same Assam Rifles come to carefully selected remote village to talk about all the good things they have in mind that will better the life in the village. Lots of money is allocated for this kind of development work and especially Nagas in remote areas who are ignorant about what happens around them on a political level and at the Indo-Naga peace talks.
This psychological warfare policy is in full swing
Example one: fashion shows are held
But what sort of fashion shows? Luring young people into festivities that are financed by the Assam Rifles will introduce Naga youth to an array of clothing adorned by different Indian peoples. With the emphasis on the ‘others’ Nagas are gently pushed to dislike their own heritage to submerge themselves –free of charge- in the ways of other peoples of India.
Example two: children and sometimes parents are taken to other states, even to Kashmir.
To make Nagas feel they are part of India, children and even parents are invited to embark on free journeys. This exposure and pampering will lead to making Nagas feel that India is their destination to be and that the aspirations for a sovereign Nagaland is futile.
Example three: villages get medical help
Though not on a planned basis the Assam Rifles will provide help to medical services and go to villages to check up and provide medical help and aid to villages upon request.
Example four: the building of roads and other infrastructures
Not contractors but the paramilitary forces are commissioned to do development work primarily in the field of building infrastructures. This endeavor cuts like a two edged sword:
1 – the work goes on with proper monitoring and thus the work is done and
2 - the villagers are made happy as they have a better road which enables them to market their goods, resulting in happy villagers
KOHIMA, AUG 17 (EMN)
Realisation is slowly sinking in among Nagas that all is not well with the “relative peace” enjoyed by the state of Nagaland. Sections of the people have begun questioning if the peaceful atmosphere is not actually what the Nagas are prepared for. There are reports of the military apparatuses consolidating their presence here by reclaiming previously abandoned posts and renovating existing ones all over the Naga areas.
Crores of rupees are reportedly being spent on such consolidation works even as at least dozen tenders have been floated.
What these measures aim to achieve is best left to the public to gauge, considering the negotiations underway with Naga National groups. Observers feel the “atmosphere” has given the army and paramilitary forces a rather free hand to do what they are actually not trained to be, except maybe those battalions which were rendered “classes” in counter insurgency. They have carried out innumerable humanitarian works all over, oftentimes saving lives and winning hearts. However, winning the heart may be prove too costly both for the Nagas and well as the security forces. A noted social worker feels activities such as musical shows and other “civic action” programmes are aimed to take away the dignity of a person.
“They want to prove and sink into the minds of the people (who benefit from such doles) that they are to depend on them (security forces) even for entertainment,” he added.
It may be noted that excursions, educational tours, sporting events have been very popular with the students. Parents have also had the “privilege” to be taken for excursions. Such operations are not uncommon in insurgency ravaged situations all over the world, and India’s North East is no exception. The “war” is different here and the Home Ministry has succeeded in projecting most troubled spots as law and order situations, and therefore an internal affair of India. Today, overt operations have been replaced by covert ones which are aimed to destroy even the spirit of the Nagas who as a people are striving for a peace that is honourable and just. Naga watchers have warned of this aspect of the operations that the central agencies have continued with impunity and a peculiar aggression with a slight provocation enough to provoke them into confronting a state minister. These “camouflaged” gestures of the para-military forces have made Naga villages and towns extremely busy, even as politicians and dole earners are happy that their works are being carried by the uniformed men.
Meanwhile, questions are being asked as to whether “dastardly” acts are “staged managed” such as the one at Dhemaji in Assam on Indian Independence Day was another ploy of agencies and the military to legitimise their presence in the region and pressure the GoI to continue with such acts like Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Local residents at Dhemaji reportedly vent their anger on the authorities by pelting stones at them, claimed the security forces had made the area “sanitised”.
Cases of disappearances and killings have been reported in some of the northeast states in the past years, though Nagaland has had a relatively smoother time as public image enhancing exercises are on the overdrive. Notwithstanding this, it is a fact that, thousands of sepoys and their military commanders are posted in these ‘troubled’ regions to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their country and doing great service for India, their motherland. They are also here to earn their livelihood too and quite a few fall prey to the lucrative businesses that they can do on the sidelines. For instance, crores of rupees worth of goods meant specifically for the canteens are spilled over in the open market with businessmen from the mainland sharing the booty. One has to check out the shops in Kohima and Dimapur to find out the famous “CSD” seals to believe it. While all is not well with the defence and paramilitary forces, it also provides an opportunity for them to reclaim their humanity and secure a dignified place among a people they serve by beginning to have a shift in their paradigm. Only then can they be remembered by the people, if that also means a shift in the way they relate to New Delhi bosses over the conduct and perception of numerous complicated issues that exist here in this part of the world.