Post Mortem

N. Kitovi Zhimomi responds to Zeliangrong Community

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/8/2021 1:30:04 PM IST

 My Zeliangrong brothers and sisters,

Our apex Zeliangrong frontal organisations have linked my name and GPRN/NSCN government on two recent incidents. Firstly, the detainment and release of three timber thieves from 2nd to 13th March 2021.

Allow me to clarify the first. I own a small teak plantation area at Kiyevi Village. Every year, for the last thirty one years, to ensure robust growth, the area is cleared of seasonal shrubs and creepers. Till today no Zeliangrong organisation or individual, either in person or through Kiyevi Villagers, has ever objected or protested my ownership of the plantation area.

On 27th February 2021, I sent few villagers to enquire about the road condition since I wanted to utilize some teak wood for personal use. Soon I was told that handful of trees were on the ground, cut down by unknown persons. On 2nd March 2021, I requested for a police escort and visited the plantation area and found that best matured teakwood had been cut few days back, loaded and taken away the previous night or the night before.

Fortunately the presence of police escort party with me on that day witnessed every word and action. Three persons with rations and working tools were found in my plantation. They were questioned on their presence at private teak plantation and they responded that they were daily wagers save for one who was an auto driver, hired by the owner. When asked who hired and sent them, they replied the owner would be found some distance below near the paddy field with a small car and a bike. Except for the vehicles, none was seen at the site. On inspecting their rucksacks, food stuff and handsaws, primarily to cut teak trees with minimal noise, were found. Since the supposed owner quietly left the scene, they were taken to the camp so that their employer would come forward, clear the matter and take them home.

Our Zeliangrong organisations are alleging that I, with police escort abducted the three men from Lamhai Namdi village but the police personnel would testify the fact. There is no question of abducting the men. They were caught at the spot of robbery at teak plantation under Kiyevi Village and not at Lamhai Namdi village which, I am told, is five or six kilometers away, with the same motive, intention and tools to commit more falling of teak trees. Normal daily wagers use machetes/daos and not handsaw. While the auto driver was released, the other two confessed they were daily wagers from Rainglong Village in Tamenglong district, Manipur State. Zeliangrong Baudi, Nagaland, were invited to the camp to briefed on this matter but they did not turn up.

The Ceasefire Monitoring board too was informed of the matter as there was a huge gap between what actually happened and what was being portrayed in the media. I am convinced it is a case of timber theft and nothing else. The effort should be to trace the master thief and the recovery of lost items to the rightful owner. The Ceasefire office has assured that the hirer of the daily wagers would be identified and lost timber would be recovered. Thus the daily wagers, even though without identifying who sent them to commit the crime, were released. Traditionally, thieves are given befitting punishment on the spot while the quantum of penalty is decided later by the village headmen and elders.

I bear no ill-will against my Zeliangrong brothers. Our Naga political struggle is inclusive of all Naga areas and none is a second class Naga whatsoever but as we aspire to pursue democratic political process on the issue of Naga Integration, we must not invite or encourage fellow Nagas from other areas to indulge in timber smuggling or similar crimes in private properties and plantations. I would gladly assist if approached or requested.

Also, I believe it is wrong to announce lightening strikes, bands and protests, shutting schools and other institutions by tribal bodies demanding release of thieves and smugglers by whipping up tribal and communal emotions. The democratic right of the people must not be used for petty issues. Our tribal minds work faster than computers when it comes to land disputes. We become judge, jury and executioner instantly without examining the historical and legal positions. Eventually, the mountains and trees will outlive all of us. If any quantity of mother earth’s produce is required from my plantation in future, be it by neighbouring Sumi or Zeliangrong villagers, I may be informed or requested so that I can oblige in a more civilized manner.

Secondly, fingers are being pointed at me and GPRN/NSCN in the killing of three Zeliang members on 22nd March 2021.

Please allow me to offer my deepest condolences to the families of our three brothers who were mercilessly gunned down by unidentified armed men on 22nd March 2021. I unequivocally condemn the barbaric act. My sympathy also goes out to all aggrieved members of Zeliangrong Community. I truly believe that within the Naga family, bloodshed and killing will never solve any problem.

I reiterate to all my zeliangrong friends and Nagas in general that there is no connection whatsoever between the timber theft issue and the murder of three Zeliangrong brothers on 22nd March 2021. The incidents are more than five kilometres apart! There is no GPRN/NSCN civil or military directive to commit the crime. I hope agencies probing the case will arrest the culprits and award befitting punishment for the crime. I also pray and hope that Zeliangrong and Sumi villages between Dimapur and Peren districts will learn to co-exist as Naga brothers and peaceful neighbours in all the times to come.

God bless Nagaland!

N.Kitovi Zhimomi, Convener, NNPGs & Ato Kilonser, GPRN/NSCN

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