NPMHR-South observes 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluebird
Newmai News Network
SENAPATI, Jul 9: The Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR-South) observed the 32nd anniversary of “Operation Bluebird” of 1987 on Tuesday at Tusil Ngaonil Village Community Hall, Tahamzam, Senapati with large number of people participating the event.
The observance was supported by the Poumai Naga Students' Union, Poumai Naga Women Union, Village Authority of Oinam Hill and Oinam Hill Youth & Students Organization.
The day was observed under the theme, “The quest for Justice and Peace.”
Delivering a speech, Joyson Mazamo, convenor of the NPMHR (South) recalled the infamous “Operation Bluebird”, and said that many “brutal incidents” were meted out to the Nagas allegedly by the Assam Rifles that led to “unimaginable atrocities” unleashed on the villagers of Oinam (Onaeme) and neighbouring villages of Senapati district, following the attack on the Assam Rifles outpost located at Oinam village on July 9, 1987.
“The operation launched by the Indian armed forces to recover the looted arms and ammunition virtually turned Oinam and more than thirty other villages in its vicinity into concentration camps and prisons,” Joyson Mazamo said.
According to Mazamo, many women were 'physically assaulted and sexually abused, twenty seven persons were killed and hundreds of people were severely tortured'.
“It remains one of the most brutal and horrific cases of systematic violation of human rights committed by Indian security forces,” said the NPMHR-South convenor, while adding, “We remember the victims and pay our humble tributes to them”.
Joyson then said that the Naga people have experienced untold miseries and hardships in the course of their resistance movement for self determination, “with both India and Burma unleashing a reign of terror to suppress us, killing thousands of innocent Nagas”.
According to the NPMHR leader, Nagas led by their forefathers, however, say no to chauvinism, racism and colonialism and have stood firm against all odds and were able to sustain and strengthen the movement to safeguard their land and freedom. “The Indo-Naga Ceasefire of 1997 ushered in an era of temporary respite from violent arm confrontation and hope for peace in the Naga country,” he also said. Joyson further said that the prolong peace process culminated in the signing of the Framework Agreement in 2015 recognising the position and history of the Nagas which is seen as encouraging progression for lasting solution. “However, the unabated military build- up and relentless development aggression continue to haunt us and our voice of concern is being ignored,” Joyson alleged, adding, “For instance, the continued imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 that empowers military personnel to shoot to kill with impunity despite the ceasefire agreement is a cause for concern and our human rights continue to be under threats”.
On October 5, 1987, despite “immense pressure and threat” to their personal safety, members of NPMHR, with the support of many like- minded individuals and organizations, filed a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) in the Gauhati High Court on behalf of the people of Oinam and other affected villages, informed Joyson Mazamo. The petition before the Court sought, amongst others, action against the Indian security forces for 'murder, manslaughter, infliction of grievous injuries, rape and sexual harassment, arson, looting and theft, wanton destruction of public and private properties including school buildings, illegal evictions, raids and seizures, illegal detentions, arrests and forced labour, and desecration of religious places etc'.
“The incidents were documented and placed before the Court and due process for final hearing has also been initiated,” Joyson added.
According to the NPMHR leader, the Assam Rifles, not only denied committing all these crimes, but "threatened, tortured and imprisoned those victims who testify in the Court".
“And strangely in 1992, the two Judges appointed to deliver the verdict were hastily transferred and the case remained with no judgement even to this day,” he added.
However, case has been recalled since November, 2018 at the High Court of Manipur in Imphal and the same Court directed the Home Secretary, Government of Manipur to set up an enquiry committee within three months time to look into the matter in its order of June 13, 2019, Joyson said.
“NPMHR, believes in ensuring that justice is delivered to the victims and a grim situation of this nature and magnitude is not repeated anywhere in the future,” Joyson Mazamo added.
He then appealed to the Government of India to take note of the concerns of the Naga people and uphold the professed ethos of the Indian democracy and its justice delivery system.
Isaac Thaoveinii, president, Poumai Naga Students Union (PNTM), in his welcome note, stated that the particular village and so many neighbouring villages faced a nightmare of terror and horror when the Indian security carried out one of the biggest operations under the code named as “Operation Bluebird” in 1987.
SP Longsao Lawrence, president of Poumai Naga Union, in his keynote address, stated that 3 decades ago, 'Oinam Hill and surrounding villages of Senapati district turned into virtual prisons as security forces armed with the AFSPA of 1958 unleashed a reign of terror in the area'.
"Between July and October in 1987, hundreds of villagers were severely beaten up and subjected to third degree method of torture," he alleged.
P Delilah Pao, president of Poumai Naga Women Union narrated how the union had worked in connection with the Oinam incident of 1987.
Solidarity messages from United Naga Council, Naga Students Federation, Naga Women Union, Manipur, All Naga Students Association and Naga People’s Organization were also read out at the event.