Thursday, June 10, 2010

Displaced Mao Naga start heading home

Naga tribal people have begun returning home, a month after violence forced them to flee their homes in several villages in Manipur state.
Conditions in their villages had improved, Lokho Ashuli, an elderly member of the Mao, one of 30 Naga sub-tribes, told
Hundreds, mostly women and children, fled after two boys were killed and 82 people wounded by police in Mao Gate, a village in the Senapati district of Manipur bordering Nagaland state on May 6.
Police opened fire after failing to break up Naga protesters.
The protest was against the Manipur government’s decision not to allow a Naga leader to visit his ancestral village.
Though Naga people have a separate state, Nagaland, many tribes are spread across other states in northeastern India, including Manipur.
Manipur opposes a leading Naga group’s demand for Naga-dominated districts in Manipur to be ceded to Nagaland.
After the violence Mao Naga people fled to Nagaland and stayed in schools and churches.
Some later moved to Kisama, a Naga heritage village near Kohima, Nagaland’s capital.
Now that federal forces have replaced the Manipur police in their villages, “We can now return home in peace.” Ashuli said.
Christian and civil groups looked after us during “our time of distress,” he added.
Baptist pastor Reverend Zelhou Keyho, who teaches at a local theology seminary, warned the returning people, most of them Christians, not to lose faith in God even in times of unrest.
Naga people have faced hard times for decades, but have kept their fortitude and faith in God intact, he reminded them. “God has not done with the Nagas yet,” he added.
Prayers have united the Naga people, said Sister Katini Lahona, a Mao tribal who helped many of the displaced.

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