Showing posts with label Nagaland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nagaland. Show all posts
11 March 2015

HC Directs Centre, Nagaland to Ensure Safety of Prisoners

Dimapur, Mar 11
:The Gauhati High Court has directed the Centre as well as the Nagaland government to ensure adequate security to the prisoners languishing in the jails in Nagaland.
The court issued the directive after hearing a PIL filed by a Guwahati-based activist, Rajib Kalita, on Monday in connection with last week’s lynching of a rape accused in Dimapur.

Kalita had sought an impartial probe into the alleged rape incident. He had requested that the trial of those arrested in connection the lynching of the rape accused be held outside Nagaland.

The court has set a two-week deadline to the Centre and the Nagaland government to respond to the PIL and pointed out that it was the responsibility of Nagaland’s Inspector General of Prisons to provide security to the prisoners.

“The family members of the prisoners are concerned over safety and security inside the jails of Nagaland,” advocate Bhaskar Dev Konwar said.

He also said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had submitted a preliminary report of the alleged rape, received from the Nagaland government, to the court.

Meanwhile, the police said the hunt for the ring leaders of the violent mob, who had stormed Dimapur jail and took away the rape accused, was still on. “We are going after the ring leaders, who have gone into hiding,” IG, Wabang Jamir, told Express.

So far, 43 people have been arrested in connection with the lynching incident.

Meanwhile, Dimapur, which is Nagaland’s largest town and commercial hub, is limping to normalcy, with curfew being relaxed from 6 am- to 4pm on Tuesday.

Bengali Muslims doing business here said a number of traders had fled the town over the past few days.

The community has a sizeable population in the town.

“Traders, especially those who are staying with their families have started leaving. They are worried about their safety. Their family members and relatives are also insisting that they should go back to their villages,” Hasmat Ali, a trader from Assam’s Barak Valley, told Express.
09 March 2015

Nagaland Mob Lynching: Curfew Clamped in Dimapur, 22 Arrested

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Protesters beating the accused in Dimapur. Curfew was on Sunday clamped in Dimapur town of Nagaland and 22 people were arrested in connection with the lynching of a rape accused, a senior police officer said.Also, Internet and cellphone text message services were suspended across Nagaland as protests spread against the lynching of a rape-accused man.

Dimapur, Mar 9 : Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) G Akheto Seema said curfew has been imposed in Dimapur town from 3 PM Sunday till 12 midnight to maintain peace. The preliminary medical report of the woman allegedly raped by Syed Farid Khan, who was lynched, confirms that she had been raped, the ADGP said.

22 people have been arrested in connection with the lynching incident. The arrests were made since last evening after going through the mobile video clippings during the incident and interrogation was on, he said.

Khan was arrested for raping the woman in Dimapur on February 24 and remanded in judicial custody in the Dimapur Central Jail the next day. On March 5, Khan was dragged out of jail and beaten to death. He was today buried at his native village in Karimganj district of Assam amidst tight security.

Rape victim says accused offered her Rs.5,000 to remain silent

Speaking to Headlines Today, the victim said accused, Syed Farid Khan, had offered her Rs.5,000 to remain silent about the incident. "I handed over the money to the police and I expect justice from the Nagaland government, " she said.

Syed Farid Khan, a 35-year-old second hand car dealer, was accused of raping a 20-year-old Naga woman on February 23 and 24 at different locations. Police arrested him on February 25 and a lower court sent him to judicial custody.

The victim also revealed that she filed an FIR and she knew the accused. However, she didn't comment about what how mob killed him.
12 February 2015

Drive To Flush Out Migrants in Nagaland

Kohima, Feb. 12 : The campaign to flush out "illegal Bangladeshi immigrants" from Nagaland has intensified after the Naga Students' Federation (NSF), the apex students' organisation in the state, decided to spearhead the movement.

After the NSF's decision, more principal Naga organisations joined the campaign to drive out "illegal Bangladeshi immigrants".

The drive against illegal immigrants was first initiated in Mokokchung district by students and an NGO known as Survival Mokokchung.

The Nagaland government has blamed Assam for the influx. The NSF said it would organise tours in all Naga-inhabited areas to create awareness on "illegal Bangladeshi immigrants".

During the tour, Naga student leaders will meet representatives of all apex organisations, administrations and members of municipal councils, town councils, youth organisations, women's organisations, students, wards and colony leaders.

The president of the NSF, Tongpang Ozukum, said they were not against any community or citizens of India, but their movement is against illegal immigrants. He said immigration from Bangladesh has become a serious threat to Naga society.

Nagaland has a large population of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Nepal and the authorities have failed to check them.

Most of the alleged Bangladeshi immigrants are engaged in agriculture sector in the plain areas and many are construction labourers.

They are also into businesses dealing with garments and electronic items. In Dimapur, the commercial hub of the state, most of the businesses is controlled by alleged immigrants who are mostly concentrated in New Market, Hazi Park, Railway Bazaar and Super Market areas.

Dimapur is not covered under inner-line permit (ILP) system and in its absence immigrants find it easy to enter the state. The NSF and other Naga organisations have been demanding streamlining of the ILP system.

The government has said most of the alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants possess Indian domicile certificates which make it difficult to detect the immigrants.

The minority community in the state too has expressed concern over entry of immigrants and decided to support the movement against them.
21 January 2015

Film on Naga folk music invited to US again

New Delhi, Jan 21
  : “Songs of the Blue Hills”, a documentary on contemporary Naga folk music, has been invited to the North Carolina Global Film Festival in the US.

Directed by National Award-winning film critic and filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, the 2013 documentary will be screened this weekend at the fest, read a statement.

“Songs of the Blue Hills” takes viewers on a journey of contemporary Naga folk music practices and brings under the focus both the music and debate between purists and those who believe in experimenting with folk sounds.

Produced by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) of Union Ministry of Culture, the film has already been screened at many prestigious film festivals, including Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival (China), Parma Internatonal Music Film Festival (Italy), 11th Eyes and Lenses Ethnographic Film Festival (Poland).

It has also been screened at New York Indian Film Festival, Gothenberg Indie Film Festival (Sweden), Visions du Reel (Nyon, Switzerland) and the World Music and Independent Film Festival (Washington).

The 96-minute film was part of the Indian Panorama at the 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, in November last year.

21 November 2014

Narendra Modi Wants Final Solution To Naga Imbroglio within 18 Months

By Manan Kumar

Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chishi Swu

New Delhi, Nov 21 : With his eyes set to have a peaceful Northeast to help expand trade with South Asia, prime minister Narendra Modi has instructed interlocutor R N Ravi to come out with a proposed settlement that could be a final solution to the simmering Naga issue.

Sources said, Ravi, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and ex-special director of Intelligence Bureau, has been asked to try and clinch a solution preferably within a year to 18 months.

Unlike former governments, the emphasis this time is not on a resolution but on a solution which, means the Centre is approaching the issue with a hardened stand of pushing for a settlement on its own terms and putting the onus to accept the proposal on National Socialist Council of Nagalim -- Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).

Getting rid of the baggage of previous UPA government during which the last interlocutor R S Pandey and before him Ajit Lal had worked hard in shaping up a proposed settlement, new interlocutor Ravi is expected to start the negotiation afresh to find out and lay down a new solution.

In an apparent indication to sound out Centre's tough bargaining policy, Modi has chosen not to meet the NSCN-IM top leaders -- Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah who are camping in Lutyen's Delhi, just a couple of kilometres from Prime Minister's house, for past since mid-September.

This is the first time that the "proud" leaders have waited for so long to meet the PM. The earlier PMs used to give them time rather promptly.

This change also indicates if the Modi government is trying to tell the rebel outfit that the solution would not hinge on a political dialogue but within the given administrative framework which would suggest a drop down for the NSCN-IM, considered to be most formidable in the Northeast.

However, it will also sound out a clear message in general to all the other insurgent outfits in the region that the government's stand would remain tough, sources said.

Modi is expected to discuss the issue with chief ministers of both Nagaland and Manipur during this visit to the Northeast in the end of this month.

A key component of Modi's talk would be how to establish peace between warring Manipur and Naga groups who are demanding autonomy of the state's Naga-dominated hill districts and tackle NSCN-IM that wants integration of the Naga areas under a single administrative umbrella.

Observers within the government say that the tough posturing by the Centre could find answers for a lasting peace in the Northeast that is necessary to take trade with ASEAN group of countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and PDR Laos etc.

A peaceful northeast can help India reach its aim of increasing the bilateral trade with ASEAN to $ 100 billion by 2015 and to $ 2000 by 2022.

To take the trade to this level and beyond, Manipur can serve as a major gateway from border point of Moreh to Myanmar and beyond right up to the doorsteps of ASEAN countries.

"We are looking forward to conclusion of negotiations for an ASEAN-India Transit Transport Agreement by 2015. The Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo sector of the India - Myanmar – Thailand trilateral highway project is expected to complete in 2016 and will create a new dynamics of synergy of trade and cultural relations with South Asian countries," said an official of the ministry of external affairs.
20 November 2014

Smokie To Perform in Kohima

By H. Chishi

Kohima, Nov 20
: Once again the stage is set for world famous English band Smokie and Amercian guitarist Vinnie Moore to rock Kohima.

Smokie — a household name and all-time favourite band — will perform on December 3 at Indira Gandhi Stadium hockey ground and Vinnie Moore of legendary US rock band UFO will perform during the Hornbill International Rock contest on December 4 coinciding with the 10-day festival from December 1.

Smokie will also rock Shillong on December 5. The Living next door to Alice band will also visit the Hornbill Festival at Naga Heritage village, Kisama, on December 4 before departing for Shillong.

The band is on a worldwide tour and will perform in more than 50 venues next year.

Several hundreds of fans of Smokie and UFO from the neighbouring states of Manipur and Assam are also expected visit Kohima.

Smokie guys will belt out their all time favourites, Living next door to Alice, Lay back in the arms of someone, Don’t play your rock and roll, Babe it’s upto you, among others.

Moore will also be one of the judges of the Hornbill International Rock contest where several bands from the country and abroad will perform.

Before leaving Moore will also conduct a guitar workshop in Dimapur for Naga music lovers. “True rock legends are characterised by the fact that they not only have added several classics to the rock history, but that their musically output, after many years, still takes place at a constantly high level and there is always something new and fresh coming up. UFO meet all this criteria,” Moore said.

“I will definitely watch the performance of Smokie,” said a fan K.P. Angami.

The organisers of the show are making all effort to stage a well-mannered concert adding that security would be tight during the performances by Smokie and Vinnie Moore.
23 September 2014

India’s Last Surviving Headhunters

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe

The largest tribe in Nagaland

The remote village of Longwa, with Myanmar’s dense forests on one side and India’s rich agricultural lands on the other, is home to the fierce Konyak Naga tribe. The largest of 16 tribes living in the remote northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, the Konyaks were warriors with brutal pasts, using inter-village fights to accede land and ascertain power. As such, Konyak villages are situated on ridge tops, so they can easily monitor and identify an enemy attack.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe

The last generation

From the tribe’s conception centuries ago, until the gruesome practice was banned in 1940s, the Konyaks were fierce headhunters. Killing and severing an enemy’s head was considered a rite of passage for young boys, and success was rewarded with a prestigious facial tattoo. With the last headhunting case in Nagaland reported in 1969, older tribesmen like Pangshong (pictured) belong to the last generation with these striking facial tattoos.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
Skulls of battles past

Bones of buffaloes, deer, boars, hornbills and mithun (a bovine species found in northeast India) decorate the walls of every Konyak house – prizes from generations of hunting. During the tribe’s headhunting days, the skulls of captured enemies were also prominently displayed, but once headhunting was abolished, the skulls were removed from the village and buried.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Spacious living quarters

Konyak huts are made primarily out of bamboo. They are spacious, with several partitions forming huge rooms for various purposes including cooking, dining, sleeping and storage. Vegetables, corn and meat are stored above the fireplace, in the centre of the house. Rice, the staple food of the Konyaks Nagas, is usually stored in huge bamboo containers at the back of the house. Pictured here, a Konyak woman named Wanlem breaks the rice by beating it with a wooden log, readying it for a traditional sticky rice dish.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
One tribe, two countries

Longwa was established long before the borders were drawn between India and Myanmar in 1970. Not knowing how to divide the community between two countries, officials decided that the border would pass through the village and leave the tribe undisturbed. Today, Longwa straddles the international border, with one side of the border pillar containing messaging written in Burmese, and the other side written in Hindi.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe International housing

The border even cuts through the village chief’s house, prompting the joke that he dines in India and sleeps in Myanmar.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Family gatherings

Konyaks are still ruled by hereditary chieftains, locally known as “Angh”, and one or several villages can come under each chieftain’s rule. The practice of polygamy is prevalent among the Anghs and the chief of Longwa has several children from many wives. Pictured here, several of the tribe’s children gather around the fire.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Changing beliefs

Konyaks were animists, worshipping elements of nature, until Christian missionaries arrived in the late 19th Century. By the late 20th Century, more than 90% in the state had accepted Christianity as their religion. Today, most of the villages in Nagaland have at least one Christian church. The church in Longwa is located in a vast field atop the ridge, right below the village chief’s house.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Weekly traditions

Women wearing traditional Naga skirts return from church on a Sunday morning.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe
A disappearing culture

A group of Konyak elders gather around the kitchen fire, chewing on betelnut, roasting corn and sharing a light moment. With the invasion of Christianity, many of the tribe’s traditional practices, such as training young boys as warriors and educating them about the tribe’s beliefs in dedicated community buildings called Morungs, have nearly disappeared.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Decorative trophies

The practice of wearing colourful beaded jewellery is also declining. In the past, both men and women would wear elaborate necklaces and bracelets. Brass faces were used in some of the men’s necklaces to signify the number of enemy heads severed.

Longwa, Myanmar, Konyak Naga tribe Change creeps in

Sheltered from the reaches of modern civilization, Longwa is a picturesque collection of thatch-roofed wooden houses. But the occasional tin roofs and concrete constructions are tell-tale signs that change is creeping into this rustic corner. What remains of this inevitable marriage between past and present is yet to be seen.

22 September 2014

NSCN (IM) Leaders Arrive in Delhi For Resumption of Naga Peace Talks

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Sep 22 : More than ten months after the last round of talks, a high-level delegation of NSCN (IM) leaders have arrived in the national capital at the invitation of the government of India for resumption of the Naga peace talks.

The delegation led by its chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah will first meet different officials before attending the formal discussions slated sometime next week. The delegation arrived in New Delhi on Saturday.

It was in November last year that New Delhi had held the last round of discussions, while a meeting with then prime minister Manmohan Singh, slated for December 6, 2013 was cancelled at the last moment. A delegation of the NSCN (IM) had visited New Delhi in March this year after the Centre had called off another round of talks in view of the Lok Sabha elections.

There have been speculations in the media in Nagaland about NSCN (IM) leaders also meeting Prime Minister Modi, especially in view of then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appreciating the “unique history of the Nagas” during his visit to Nagaland in July 2002.

The NSCN (IM) has been on a ceasefire with the government of India since August 1, 1997, following which it has held a series of discussions with New Delhi. While the group has dropped its demand for ‘sovereignty’, but  it has maintained that it would continue to press for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas.

The group had earlier this month taken exception to the appointment of former IB special director RN Ravi as New Delhi’s new interlocutor in view of certain remarks made by him in an newspaper column in December last year. This had prompted new Nagaland governor and veteran BJP leader PB Acharya to clarify that Ravi’s article was written much before the new government was elected.
18 September 2014

Nagaland Police Unearth illegal Tax Network run by NSCN(IM)

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Sep 18 : Three weeks after the newly appointed Governor of Nagaland constituted a high-powered committee to probe illegal taxation in the state, the police have unearthed an organised network, controlled by NSCN(IM) cadre, who were illegally taxing transport and commercial vehicles. The network also involved 17 transport and goods companies.

The police action comes a year after NGOs and tribal bodies launched a statewide movement to check illegal ‘taxes’ imposed by different groups.

Dimapur Police additional SP Wati Jamir said the network was run from the offices of different transport and goods carrier companies. The anti-extortion team of the police said the racket ran into crores of rupees. Several persons have been taken into custody and offices of all companies under scanner have been shut down.

“Based on specific inputs, the investigating team Monday raided and searched the office of one M/S Freight Carriers (India) Pvt Ltd in Dimapur, which led to the recovery and seizure of 43 illegal lorry challans for trucks plying on the Guwahati-Imphal route through Nagaland,” Jamir said.

The police found that the challans had the signature of one John, a NSCN(IM) cadre. The managers of the company, Rajbir Sharma and Vikash Sharma, were taken into custody.

During questioning, the two managers admitted that “taxes” were collected from all Manipur-bound transport trucks by issuing the challans on the direction of the NSCN(IM) cadres.
27 August 2014

Nagalim: Mass Rallies to Put Pressure on Indian Government

The United Naga Council is organizing mass rallies to push towards the solution of the Indo–Naga issue, as well as to protest against militarisation of Ukhrul area and the aggressive policies of the Government of Manipur in terms of the ancestral lands of Naga people. 

United Naga Council (UNC) has announced its decision of launching mass rallies in the four Naga dominated district headquarters of Tamenglong, Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel on August 30 [2014] to exert pressure on the Government of India for expediting an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.
The rallies will also be in protest against the alleged militarisation of Naga areas particularly Ukhrul district by Government of Manipur by deployment State forces in alleged utter disrespect of the Indo-Naga cease-fire as well as against Government of Manipur's alleged disrespect for the democratic process of tripartite talk on alternative arrangement which has been progressing towards a logical stage.
The UNC further said the August 30 [2014] rallies will also be in protest against the unabated aggressive policies of the Government of Manipur to encroach upon the ancestral lands of the Nagas and tribal through Laws, Acts & Notifications to subvert the protective provisions of the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (MLR & LR) Act, 1960 .
In statement issued by its publicity wing, UNC informed that after the rallies joint memorandum on all these points of demand and protests will be submitted by the Tribe Hohos and frontal organisations of the respective districts through the Government of India agencies to the Prime Minister of India and also dispatched through post.
UNC appealed to all churches, Christian leaders, frontal and regional organisations, village chiefs and village councils and village authorities, students and youth’s leaders to take up the moral responsibilities for ensuring the maximum participation of the people in the rally.
It also advised the Naga people to be vigilant against any attempt of the adversaries to discredit the peoples' movement for their political aspirations by sabotaging the democratic civil action.

Source: E–PAO
19 August 2014

Dimapur’s ‘Illicitly Open’ Liquor Industry

A group of people are seen drinking liquor in one of the many clandestine establishments which sell alcohol in Dimapur. Photo by Caisii Mao
By Imti Longchar
Dimapur, Aug 19 : Amidst zealous and earnest debates flooding newspapers, social networking sites and road side liquor joints on the fallacy that Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP) 1989 is or not, a less perturbed illicit liquor industry continues to rise to humongous proportions in commercial hub Dimapur.  

Under the guise of mineral water wholesale shops and patently placing them under food restaurant industry on their registration licenses, the spurious liquor business is rising extraordinarily in all stretches of Dimapur.

Keen observers point out how the commercial hub might have the highest number of wholesale shops selling mineral water in the whole of North East, coupled with an abnormal number of Indian cuisine hotels - most of which does not offer even a plate of chapatti. More ironically, amongst all the businesses dotting Dimapur, these shops are diligently the first to open shutters in the morning (by 5 am), and the last to close at night (11 pm) for its ‘customers.’

People in the know (and who does not know?) counted nearly 500 illegal wine shops in Dimapur and along NH 29 and rising.  This figure does not include restaurants which have liquor on their menu, or home/residence based IMFL businesses inside the numerous colonies.

To cite instances, a year or two ago, there was only one wine store, a very renowned one, near Dhobi Nullah traffic point intersection. Of late, it has tripled, flanking each other on the left and right of the road.

Or along the neglected Signal road, where setting up business was deemed a bad idea (except for a Punjabi hotel prospering in mineral water business) because of the deplorable road condition or so, nearly half a dozen wine stores have cropped up and is doing brisk business.  

Likewise, be it City Tower, Nagarjan junction, Purana Bazaar, Burma Camp, 4th Mile and elsewhere, the sprouting liquor hotels with its trademark mineral water cartons and cold drinks decorated cupboards can hardly miss our sight.

Lure of quick and highly dividend earnings and unemployment can be attributed for people venturing into the illicit liquor business, despite the knowledge of prohibition. No regard for the law because everyone else is breaking the law of prohibition can be another issue.  

Owner of a paan shop cum liquor joint was candid enough to reveal how one can become a ‘lakhpati’ if one lasts a year into the business. “After that, its snapping fingers for you,” he quipped. His bold declaration holds water.

A personnel of the Intelligence Branch revealed how during one of the recent routine closure of liquor stores by authorities, a single wine shop could earn a whopping profit of Rs 16 lakh by selling liquor to alarmed imbibers from 4 pm till 9 pm.

The stretch of Shillong and Guahati night bus boarding station (Blue Hill station) decorated with high rise hotels, lodgings, and bus counters is infamous for its alleged distinction of being a ‘syndicate’s haven,’ – meaning a hotspot from where most networking of illicit liquor supplies allegedly originate.

A source, working in the police department explains how the illegal chain of the liquor industry is segregated into four components – syndicate, whole-seller, retailer and home business makers. Syndicates are the main suppliers to the whole-sellers, who, then sell to retailers and home business makers.

Illicit liquor is also supplied directly by kingpins at Lahorijan and Khat Khati under Assam which, according to this source, is more cumbersome and risky for the bootleggers.
One key factor on how syndicates manage to operate the illicit liquor business full swing may also be directly linked with the license awarded by the State government to individuals or groups for bonded ware house to supply liquor to Armed forces stationed in Nagaland and Manipur, says the source.

With these licences, purportedly bought with ludicrous amounts of bribes landing in the hands of syndicates, trucks after trucks of liquor enter Nagaland gate unrestrained. These consignments not only go to the Armed forces, but flows directly into the general market, the source claimed.

“But who can prove what when everyone- the excise, police, State government officials, politicians, church members, public- from the top rung to the bottom, are equally involved in the making of this industry?” he said, implicitly pinpointing the reason why the NLTP Act has not been a success or will never be.

The roaring illicit liquor industry in Dimapur has also witnessed the rise of a new breed of apprentice in the brewing business. There was a time when local beer made of rice were mostly brewed and sold by local women as means to survival and livelihood. And also with their contention that drinking rice beer was Naga traditional way of life.

A walk around Westyard (Rail bazaar) area or Dhobi Nullah would reveal otherwise. At the bustling stretches of rice beer joints, swift and business minded non locals sell local brew kept in large basins along with plates of dry fried fish, fried blood cakes, mutton heads and innards.

Many of these versatile non local businessmen have learnt the art of brewing rice beer as means to employment. They also buy the fermented rice from locals.

In a reverse scenario, local women mostly widows or those with unemployed husbands have turned to sale of IMFL instead of the local brew. “This is more lucrative and hassle free than selling rice beer,” a woman who was into rice beer business, but now sells rum, remarked. 

That’s prohibition in Dimapur.

Source: Morung Express
04 August 2014

Wildlife Trust of India team to search origin of star tortoises seized in Nagaland

By Pullock Dutta

Star tortoises at Nagaland Zoological Park.

Jorhat, Aug 4 : The Wildlife Trust of India has the daunting task of finding the home of 62 star tortoises that were seized at Dimapur railway station last month.

A team from the WTI will collect blood and tissue samples of the tortoises, now kept at the zoo in Dimapur to ascertain their place of origin.
“The blood and tissue samples are necessary to ascertain the location from where these tortoises originated. By ascertaining to which sub-species they belong, we can subsequently release these tortoises in the particular location or at least near it,” N.V.K. Ashraf, the chief of conservation of WTI, told The Telegraph today.
Ashraf said the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a species found in dry forest areas in the northwest and southeastern regions of the country and is quite popular in exotic pet trade across the world.
“Thanks to the distinctively-marked and highly-rounded shell, this species has become popular in the world’s pet trade,” he said.
Indian star tortoises are medium sized, with the average adult rarely growing to more than 30cm in length.
The trade in star tortoises has been banned under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild fauna and flora. The species is also protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which bans its possession and trade.
The consignment of 62 tortoises was found concealed under fruits in two crates parcelled from New Delhi on July 12.
Sources said one of the tortoises managed to sneak out of the packet, which attracted the attention of railway officials. Subsequently, the wildlife crime control bureau seized the two packets.
The principal chief conservator of forests, Nagaland, M. Lokeswara Rao, said all the 62 tortoises were alive and being kept at a special enclosure at Nagaland zoological park.
He said WTI had sought permission from the forest department to collect blood and tissue samples of the tortoises to ascertain the location from where they originated.
“We have given them permission,” he said.
He said this was the first time that star tortoises, which are found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, were seized in Nagaland.
Rao said a telephone number and an address were mentioned in the two packets but there was no reply on the particular telephone number.
“The address was also fake,” he added.
An official of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau told The Telegraph that the haul has established the fact that Dimapur is used as a transit route to smuggle star tortoises to Southeast Asian countries.
“The porous international border in Manipur is being used to smuggle these star tortoises. We are probing the incident,” he said.
The ministry of home affairs has said the porosity of the 1,643km India-Myanmar border facilitates cross-border movement of militants, illegal arms and drugs. “The border (Indo-Myanmar) permits free movement regime up to 16km across the border. This makes the International border extremely porous. The border runs along hilly and inhospitable terrain, which grossly lacks basic infrastructure and provides cover to the activities of various insurgent groups and smugglers,” a ministry of home affairs report had said recently.
29 July 2014

Edinburgh Tattoo to Drum up Viewers with TV Deals

Members of the Nagakand Folkloric Group, from north-east India, are among the international acts at this years show. Picture: Hemedia By BRIAN FERGUSON

Organisers of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo aim to increase the global TV audience of the event to more than a billion – with lucrative new agreements in China and India.

Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of the event, has unveiled ambitious plans to secure long-running broadcast deals with the two countries. The move – expected to coincide with the appearance of more Indian and Chinese performers in the event – would see the number of viewers rise tenfold from its present level.

Plans to greatly expand the global reach of the event were announced as it emerged the Tattoo is set to sell out in advance for the first time in five years – despite its opening weekend clashing with the Commonwealth Games.

Organisers have revealed sales are running around 8,000 ahead of last year, with 97 per cent of seats already snapped up ahead of yesterday’s official launch, when details of the programme were announced.

Last year’s event did not sell out until around two weeks into the run at the Castle Esplanade.

The Tattoo opens on Thursday night, with its dress rehearsal, with another three performances due to be held before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow draw to a close on Sunday.

The event – which is being held for the 65th year – has sold out for the last 15 years in a row, but is viewed by a further 100 million people in around 45 countries thanks to coverage filmed by the BBC.
Brigadier Allfrey said: “We are one of four really big offerings that BBC Music record every year, along with the Proms season, the Glastonbury Festival and Radio One’s Big Weekend, and our programme is already licensed out to a huge number of territories around the world.

“I have a real interest in the developing markets, particularly in India and China, where there is an enormous number of people who are tremendously interested in our offering.

“We think there is a real opportunity to reach a stronger audience by working with the two state broadcasters in each of these countries.

“The real interest is in the years to come, where Scotland’s relationship with these great economies is set to grow. I want to make sure the Tattoo is presented to both Indian and Chinese audiences in much the same way as it is in Australia, where the Tattoo is shown every year on New Year’s Day.

“We want to ensure that they take the programme every year, and in years to come we are talking about acts from India and China. We are setting the conditions for proper broadcast of those programmes, which we think will capture the public imagination in those countries.”

Acts from South Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand, India and Singapore appear in this year’s Tattoo, which runs until 23 August.

Highlights are expected to include appearances from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, the iNgobamakhosi Zulu Dance Troupe, from South Africa, the Nagaland Folkloric Group, from north-east India, and a group of Shetland Fiddlers.

Just 3,000 tickets remain on sale for this year’s event, but Brigadier Allfrey warned these were expected to be quickly snapped up, despite the huge 
interest in the Games.
11 July 2014

Found in Translation

By Suanshu Khurana
Still from Songs of the Blue Hills
Still from Songs of the Blue Hills


Film-maker Utpal Borpujari’s documentary, Songs of the Blue Hills, seeks out lost Naga folk songs and finds their revival among younger musicians
While setting chords to their famous hymn-like 1960 track, Let it be me, the rock ‘n’ roll legend The Everly Brothers, not even in their wildest dreams, thought that a tribal folk song in India’s Nagaland would have the same chord structure. As for the contours and trajectory, they never factored those in either. The song reached the seventh position on Billboard charts as the English duo transformed popular music of the ’50s and ’60s to create a musical legacy with those gorgeous riffs, unique harmonies and “foreverly” arrangements. Even as they were making their way to the Hall of Fame, far away in Nagaland, Hoya He, a song from the Chakhesang tribe, was getting erased from our musical consciousness. So when Nagaland’s classical pianist Nise Meruno plays and croons both the songs in quick succession, highlighting the similarity between the music from two different worlds — one from the American idiom of popular music, and the other which is not so popular in Indian consciousness, one is intrigued to find this folk song’s relevance in today’s time. Thus begins a journey, which is the subject of filmmaker Utpal Borpujari’s documentary, Songs of the Blue Hills.
Delhi-based Borpujari’s feature-length documentary takes one through the music of various Naga tribes. The film by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, which was shot and completed last year, is in the competition sections of international film festivals at Gothenburg and Washington this year and is being screened at Eyes & Lenses: Ethnographic Film Festival, Warsaw and Ladakh International Film Festival. “I have always been interested in tracing the roots of music. This endeavour was to understand and find more and see what it would throw at me,” says Borpujari.

The film seeks out folk songs of the Nagas that are lost or have trickled down to the next generation. The arrival of the British over a century ago was culturally helpful in some parts of the nation (they facilitated many musicians such as Gauhar Jaan find fame by allowing them to record), while they banned folk music of the Naga tribes calling it spirit worship. “I’m a Christian and we were told that we would rot in hell if we would sing our folk songs,” says Guru Sademmeren Longkumer, a veteran Naga folk musician, in the documentary. But he secretly documented some music over a period of time and created collections. However, reading them was not easy since the Ao tribe had their script written on leather strips. “Dogs ate them,” he says.

“The Nagas have faced many socio-political issues. Most tribes would remain within themselves and not have anything to do with other tribes or the rest of the world. Since the songs were orally passed down, many got lost in the process,” says Borpujari, 45, who has included almost 20 songs from the Naga folk culture in the documentary. He met bands such as Purple Fusion and Tetseo Sisters, who are reviving their legacy by combining folk with pop, blues and jazz. “Some veteran folk musicians have a problem with musicians wearing cowboy hats and ‘mixing’ their music, but younger musicians believe that this is one way that their legacy can be revived,” says Borpujari.

Collaborations and fusions aside, some banned folk songs are also finding their way into choral hymns, which were considered sacrosanct once upon a time. One finds various choirs including the one in Nagaland Music Conservatory using lyrics and tunes from their folk songs and singing them in hymn-like structures. “The young generation of musicians are allowing this oral legacy to flourish, even in choral singing, where it was once prohibited,” says Borpujari.
10 July 2014

Coming From Nagaland? Have Your Visa Ready! Mobile Phone Stores Staff Need to be Trained Well

By Alfie D'Souza

Mangalore: While I am writing this article, persons and business names are not revealed, only for the fact that I don't want any employees to get fired from their jobs because of their lack of knowledge and courteousness.

I really don't blame the store employees for their lack of customer service talents, but would blame the owners/management for not training their staff handling various departments about the company products, procedures and rules etc etc.

Sometimes when you apply for new mobile phone connection or any other matter, you will be surprised at all the documents the staff ask for, which actually is not needed and at same time its waste of your time and energy running to xerox shops to make bunch of copies.

By the way when did Nagaland became a foreign country ? Why do you need a visa to visit Mangalore? I thought Nagaland was still a Indian state, but according to a authorized mobile showroom staff it is not.

Other day I was at the mobile showroom to pay my bill, but since the automated paying kiosk was out of order, I stood in the queue inside the store to pay my bill. At that time there were two youth, I guess either from Tibet or Nagaland, trying to get phone service activated.

I could hear the conversation between the youth and the store employee - at one point I heard the staff asking them for their visa copies. The confused youth with much argument with the staff left the showroom in a grumpy mood.

Minutes later after done paying my bill, I approached the same staff and asked where the youth were from, and she replied they were from Nagaland.

Quickly I asked her again, then why were you insisting on their visa copies, since Nagaland is not a foreign land.

She was all puzzled and confused, and the manager who standing close by who heard us, directed the staff to run outside and look if she could find those two young youth from Nagaland, but all in vain. I bet they went to a better mobile showroom. What a blunder the staff did, just to lose two customers?

Another incident-- once again that too at a mobile showroom - my American friend who was on a visit here for couple of months wanted to see if he could get temporary SIM card. So I took him to the mobile shop, where the staff asked him for his copies of passport, visa and other travel documents etc - which he did.

After a while the store staff came and insisted copies of Voter's ID or a ration card. What a dumb question to ask a US citizen for a voter's ID and a ration card, when she knew he was a American on a vacation with a tourist visa. We didn't speak a word, instead left the shop, and later got him a SIM card under my friend's name at a different shop..

Sometimes getting a new mobile phone service is much more difficult than getting a passport or visa - too much hassles and too many documents to be produced for personal verification. Like few months ago, when I tried to get a new mobile service to be approved I went through hell - after all copies of needed documents were submitted, and after waiting for nearly 15-20 minutes, the mobile shop staff tells me that I look fair on my passport and OCI (Dual citizenship) card, and I look dark on my Karnataka State Drivers Licence. She wanted me to lighten the photostat copies of my DL - I had to go back again to the xerox shop, and after wasting nearly 10 copies, I finally got a perfect copy of my DL photo to match my PP photo. I still don't understand why the photo color mattered so much. I only wished the RTO office had a better camera device to take personal images ?

09 July 2014

‘Punishment posting’ may land Sheila Dikshit in Nagaland

‘Punishment posting’ may land Sheila Dikshit in Nagaland With Kerala governor Sheila Dikshit defiant despite being nudged by the home secretary to step down and make way for an NDA appointee, the government is considering transferring her to a smaller state. 

New Delhi, Jul 9 : With the NDA government having hinted at naming new governors mid-session, sources in the home ministry indicated that gubernatorial appointments for around seven to eight states may be announced shortly.

With Kerala governor Sheila Dikshit defiant despite being nudged by the home secretary to step down and make way for an NDA appointee, the government is considering transferring her to a smaller state. Her new address may well be Nagaland, as Mizoram governor Vakkom Purushothaman, who on Sunday was transferred to Nagaland, is reportedly unwilling to accept the new assignment and may resign.

As many as five Raj Bhavans fell vacant following the resignation of UPA-appointed governors, including B L Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh), M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland) and B V Wanchoo (Goa).

Apart from these states, there is a vacancy in Gujarat after the NDA government on Sunday transferred incumbent Kamla Beniwal to Mizoram. If Dikshit is moved to Nagaland, a vacancy would arise in Kerala as well.

Meanwhile, the terms of some governors, including H R Bharadwaj (Karnataka) and Jagannath Pahadiya (Haryana) are ending later this month.

The NDA government's signal to certain UPA appointees in Raj Bhavans to step down had evoked a mixed response. While some governors sent in their resignations without much delay, others like Narayanan and Wanchoo waited to be questioned by the CBI in the AgustaWestland scam before quitting. Others like Beniwal, Dikshit and K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra) refused to take the hint, with the latter two even asking for a formal communication in case the Centre wanted them to resign ahead of their terms.

The likely list of NDA appointees in Raj Bhavans includes BJP veterans such as former UP Speaker Kesarinath Tripathi, Punjab leader Balram Das Tandon, former MP Lalji Tandon, senior party leader from Kerala O Rajagopal, former Union minister Ram Naik, Delhi leader V K Malhotra and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.

Kalyan Singh too is being considered for governorship, but the former UP CM is reportedly unwilling to quit active politics yet.
27 June 2014

Mountain Echoes


FROM AFAR A Naga folk group in a still from the film
Special Arrangement FROM AFAR A Naga folk group in a still from the film

“Songs of the Blue Hills” looks at the contest between tradition and modernity in the music of the Nagas.

“All songs, be it of harvest, love, war and festivals, were sung in the community dormitory for the youth,” says Guru Zachunu Keyho, who has collected nearly 600 Chakhesang folk songs. He is remembering the days before the coming of schools and churches in Nagaland, when cultural wisdom was transmitted to the youth through folk songs and dances, at the morung or dormitory. For Keyho, those days are over. “Today’s youth don’t have any interest in these things. Thus, with every generation, we are losing our songs and tradition.”
Tradition is a word that recurs frequently in “Songs of the Blue Hills”, a new documentary by film critic and filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, which journeys through the music of Nagaland. Through interviews with musicians, music teachers and ethnomusicologists, the film looks at what ‘tradition’ entails, who lays claim to it, and how endangered it is.
Although popularly perceived as a single tribe, the Nagas comprise more than 40-odd tribes and sub-tribes, spread across North East India and in Northwestern Mynamar. Like ethnic communities the world over, folk music and dances are at the heart of Naga culture. Also, Nagaland is perhaps the only State which has a Music Task Force, which functions under the aegis of the State Government to promote music in the State.
“What is very interesting is that since the Nagas do not have written history – or the written word – traditionally, it is their folk music that helps orally pass on their history from one generation to another,” says Borpujari, who has previously made the documentary “Mayong: Myth and Reality”. “The idea was to maybe make a 40-minute-odd-long film. But as my team and I started researching and contacting people, I realised that it was not going to be as easy as it sounded. Every day we found new groups, new singers, and more and more interesting music.”
While the culture Keyho describes passed with the coming of the missionaries, whose influence coloured the music of the Nagas, lately there has been a revival of folk music with several young groups taking to it. Some of them are the Tetseo sisters, who belong to the Chakhesang tribe and sing Li; Purple Fusion, whose members belong to the Ao, Lotha and Sangtam tribes, and who borrow from the repertoire of each other’s tribes; and Moa Subong and Arenla Subong, who blend their traditional Ao sounds with rock influences.
While their efforts have not been received enthusiastically by some folk practitioners, who worry that fusion could destroy the “real Naga tradition and culture”, they are convinced that fusion is also a way of keeping tradition alive. The older and younger generation may disagree about the means of preserving tradition, but they are both acutely aware of its importance, and the need to sustain it.
In fusion, according to musicologist Abraham Lotha, “Certain element of dilution is there but I would see it in a positive light in terms of the artistes trying to be creative in their musical talents, and in creating such kind of fusion music there is a market for it too. So it does help spread Naga music beyond the borders of the Naga areas.”
The film, which has been screened at film festivals in Warsaw, New York, Gothenburg and Kochi among others, had to be confined within the borders of Nagaland owing to budget constraints, but Borpujari hopes to take “this journey further into Naga singers in other parts of Northeastern India, someday in the future.”
17 June 2014

India's 1st Solar Water Project in Nagaland

India's 1st solar water project in Nagaland The system removes up to 99.99 % bacteria from water selectively without hampering other elements and taste.

Kohima, Jun 17 : Nagaland minister for public health engineering department Noke Wangnao inaugurated an innovative water technology project — solar-powered water treatment unit — at Tsiesema village near Kohima on Friday. Nagaland is the first state in the country to set up the unique technology.

Wangnao said three similar projects had been installed in three most villages most hit by water scarcity in Kohima district - Tsiesema, Meriema and Kijumetouma.

At a time when the state badly needed a solution to the water scarcity problem of the villages, a Mumbai-based company developed a suitable technology which could readily solve the water problem and produce good quality water, the minister added.

A brief technical project report by Er Kevisekho Kruse, Nagaland's chief PHED engineer, added that the Additya Solar-operated Advanced Membrane Filtration system was designed to produce pure drinking water.

The system removes up to 99.99 % bacteria from water selectively without hampering other elements and taste.

It is a fully automated, solar-operated water treatment unit with very low power consumption and operating costs. The capacity of the system is 6000l per day.
16 June 2014

Nagaland on a plate: Dzükou Tribal Kitchen has reopened in Delhi

By Amrita Madhukalya

Dzükou Tribal Kitchen, which serves Naga food, has reopened in Delhi. The decor is the same and, thankfully, so is the food, says Amrita Madhukalya
For those of you lamenting the demise of the charming little Naga eatery that shut its doors late last year at Delhi's Hauz Khas Village, Dzükou Tribal Kitchen is back. Housed in a back alley of the tony neighbourhood, Dzükou had, arguably, the best view. If you've ever relished their delectable Naga pork ribs, sighing at the glorious sight of the sun going down on the Hauz-I-Alai while birds hurried by to their nests, you'd agree.

Just so that you don't buy into a misreading: Dzükou is now no longer at Hauz Khas Village. It has moved a few doors away to the Hauz Khas Main market, which along with the neighbouring Safdarjung Development Area (SDA) community market, has been the biggest beneficiaries of the exodus of good eating joints from Hauz Khas Village.

Adding its bit to the ever-growing universe of exotic cuisine in the capital, Dzükou, in its new avatar, is spacious (it boasts of parking space). But, once inside, you realise nothing much has changed. There is the same mural of three Naga tea garden girls, and almost the same menu. (Thank god for their pork ribs!)

The decor has changed a bit: interior designer Mukul Sood was roped in to do up the place. The result is a very traditional Naga ambience, with contemporary, minimalist chic. There is a six-seater and five eight-seaters, with the provision for Naga shawl blinds to accommodate more guests. There is a small fountain, where water spews from burnished bamboo, and the ceiling is dhokuwa, sourced from Assam, a traditional bamboo weave used as fences in village homes. The façade of a Naga hut stands in one corner of the room to serve as a bar that is still to open – the liquor licence is due soon. And there's a space for buffets, which owner Karen Yopthomi informs me, will also start shortly.

The menu is currently the old Naga menu, and there are plans to incorporate five dishes each from cuisines of all northeastern states.

We started with the smoked buff salad (Rs279), and the best-selling Naga pork ribs (Rs349). As with most northeastern food, the meat has just the right amount of chewiness and is smoked to perfection. The buff salad is a wee bit hot, and comes with fresh greens like yam leaves, Naga spring onions and fresh bamboo shoot. We were delighted that the succulent and crispy pork ribs had not changed at all and was in top form.

To wash down the starters, we called for the famed fruit beer (Rs149) next. It tasted better and headier than the pale beers one finds in Dilli Haat or in the eateries in North Campus, but we must warn you that it was really sweet.

For the main course, we ordered smoked buff curry (Rs319), chicken with fresh bamboo shoot (Rs319, there are alternatives of chicken and of dry bamboo shoot), a side dish of rosep aon (dry, Rs169) and pork anishi, a paste made of smoked yam leaves (Rs319). The smoked buff curry is not for the faint-hearted, there are generous dollops of raja mircha, known as the hottest chilli in the world, and fresh greens. The chicken with fresh bamboo shoot was full of flavour, and again, a bit hot. The rosep yon is an assortment of greens like bitter gourd, fresh bamboo shoot, yam leaves, Naga spring onions, Naga beans, etc. Our favourite amongst these was pork anishi — the smoked yam and the smoked pork has a character of its own, and you will most possibly reach out to more than one serving.

The mains also consisted of steamed rice (Rs99) and an assortment of chutneys — a smoked chilli-tomato-onion paste, raja mircha chutney with dry fish and raja mircha chutney with shredded beef (Rs129 each). It will need a warrior to survive the chilli-tomato-onion paste, but the raja mircha chutneys came with their own flavours. We strongly recommend the one with that came peppered with slivers of crispy roast beef.

Dzükou will also host musicians from the northeast, who will come and perform at the tiny platform.

The Tatseo Sisters performed last week, and Alobo Naga might perform in the coming few weeks.

Karen, who takes special care of the food cooked in the kitchen, sources her ingredients all the way from Nagaland. The smoked meats, the yam leaves, the axhone, the dry mushrooms, the Naga spring onions and the raja mirchi — all come to the capital on a train. And, I guess, that's what makes Dzükou's food so authentic and straight out of the lush valley in Nagaland. And oh, did we tell you that Naga food does not use any oil to cook us this storm?

‘The Last Headhunter’


An ethnic Naga headhunter in the remote village of Cheme Khuk in Burma’s far north. (Photo: Andrzej Muszynski)
Kachin State/Sagaing Division, northern Burma — In the remote village of Cheme Khuk in Burma’s far north, I am talking to a man who must be one of the last ethnic Naga chief headhunters still alive today. Now in his 80s, he recalls an episode from the last great war, when he was a boy.
“I was in the jungle with my father and brothers,” the old chief says. “Suddenly, we saw a white man with short black hair. My father whispered, ‘It’s a beast, it’ll hurt us.’ We tied him up and he shouted. We carried him to the village.

“All we found in his bag was a single book. There was no gun. Then my father said, ‘He can’t do us any harm.’ We fed him. He got his strength back. We gave him some rice for the road and seven bells to pay for food along the way. He wanted to cook the rice in them. We explained that he shouldn’t do that.

“We escorted him to the border of our land and he vanished into the jungle, in the direction of India. We saved his life, and he was very grateful to us.”

Many more incidents of this kind occurred during World War II in the Patkai Hills on the border between Burma and India, inhabited to this day by the Naga people. One of the most extraordinary but little known campaigns of the war was conducted in the air over that territory. Burma was being fought over by the Allied powers and the Japanese, who had rapidly moved northward after taking Rangoon, pushing the British out to India.

Finally the counterattack went ahead, and the sky was cut across by British and American planes. The pilots performed incredible feats, landing on swampy ground in the middle of the jungle or daring to fly “the Hump,” one of the most dangerous flight paths over the Burmese Himalayas to China. Many of them crashed into the mountains. Wreckage is still lying in remote corners of the jungle, where Naga hunters sometimes find it. I heard they have  even come across pilots’ skeletons, still in the cockpit.

If the Japanese had crossed the Naga Hills and conquered India, and if the Germans hadn’t been defeated at Stalingrad, Asia would have been taken over by the Axis powers. But thanks to men like the pilot who was saved by the Naga boy and his father, Burma was liberated from Japanese invaders.

Who was the pilot? Did he survive? What book was he reading? I’m still looking for him.

Search Through Nagaland
I had never seen such a wild place, neither in Africa nor in the Amazon, before traveling to the Patkai Hills, which are hundreds of kilometers of dense, majestic jungle that climb skyward up steep slopes. Here and there in the forest shadow hide Naga villages, lost in time.

I was traveling from Myitkyina, the state capital of Kachin State, with a government guide and permits that included a precise plan of my route. In the Kachin town of Shinbwayang, we rented off-road motorbikes and set off on a crazy ride across the mountains, driving along the legendary Ledo Road in a quest to find one of the last of the living Naga chief headhunters.

This road tells a story of human madness. When the Japanese took Rangoon, the only source of supplies for the Allies in China was India, but there were two mountain ranges, the Burmese Himalayas and the Patkai Hills, standing in the way. People died like flies while building the road, as it spans an area that is highly malarial. By the time they finished, the war was over, and today the steel bridges still hang undisturbed over winding rivers.

The road is now so overgrown with plants that it is essentially a narrow mule path winding across the lofty mountains. Only a few drivers from Shinbwayang are prepared to take on this sort of challenge. People hire them to transport goods all the way to the Indian border at the Pangsau Pass, which is where I was heading.

Traveling with my guide, I was unsure what I would find. We asked people where we could find an old Naga shaman, since many old shamans used to be chief headhunters. I lost hope after someone in a village told me the last shaman from Pangsau died two years ago.

In every place we stopped, the villagers appeared to have given up their traditional costumes.

Nobody wore loinclothes with traditional bells. But their huts appeared to have hardly changed over the years, with one exception: These days, there are no longer small human skulls hanging on the outer walls.

Naga chief headhunters were legendary figures, inspiring terror among neighbouring tribes, travelers, missionaries and soldiers. My guide, a delegate of the tourism ministry, said the Naga stopped cutting off heads in the 1960s, when the military regime took control of their territory and made headhunting punishable by law. Christian missionaries had earlier campaigned against the practice.

However, I heard another version of the story as well. According to Shan people from nearby Hukawng Valley who venture into Naga territory in search of wild elephants, which they domesticate, headhunting is alive and well. “If you don’t warn them and you take away an elephant without their consent, they’ll cut off your head,” one Shan person warned.

From Naymung, in Sagaing Division, my guide and I set off westward along a new dirt road, which led to the town of Lahe. The government built the road two years ago, and it still isn’t ready to use: In many places, it’s like a mountain track. But thanks to its presence, new technology and western culture are rapidly infiltrating the hill tribes. Corporations and armed groups have their eyes on the valuable timber and natural resources here, and the government faces a major task of protecting this wildlife reserve and the dying local cultures.

Eventually, my guide and I reached another village, Cheme Khuk. My permits did not allow me to travel there officially, but I managed to convince some local authorities to let me visit. Nevertheless, they sent police officers on motorbikes to follow me.

The village, on a valley at the foot of a steep hill, looked utopian. Rows of huts were surrounded by waves of greenery. Suddenly, however, a disturbance broke the peace.

“Look over there, a naked man!” my guide yelled. “He saw us and ran into that hut.”

Separately, we saw a group of people coming toward us, walking single file in a line. They wore caps decorated with animal horns and they carried weapons. I was dumbstruck, as they stood there in front of us without saying a word or cracking a smile. They all had lips as black as coal from a root they chewed nonstop as a stimulant—quite distinct from the betel nut that is so popular elsewhere in Burma.

“Man, you’ve got incredible luck!” my guide told me. Much to my surprise, one of the men in line was an old Naga chief headhunter. He had traveled here with elders from a village deep inside the jungle, five days away on foot. The half-naked man who had run into the hut was the oldest Naga of them all.

“They came here to visit their sons and families. They’re spending a few weeks here and then going back again,” my guide said.

That evening we met for a communal supper at the home of the village’s Naga pastor. We sat around a bonfire, eating chicken and rice spiced with chilli while drinking green tea. The headhunter said he had not seen a foreigner since helping to rescue the pilot as a boy, though he had later visited a village where he saw foreigners on television.

Telling his story, he wore a tiger skin cap adorned with bird feathers and deer antlers. His nephew had given him the tiger skin. The world’s biggest so-called tiger conservation area, the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, sits in Naga territory.

“Today there are fewer and fewer of them. The Lisu tribes hunt them for trade,” the headhunter told me, referring to another ethnic group.

“The Naga feel a spiritual tie with the tiger,” he added. ‘They believe tigers understand human speech. In each village there is someone with a tiger’s soul. Killing a tiger means his death, too.”
But if a particular tiger is attacking people or cattle, the Naga decide to hunt, often at night. After establishing its position, I was told, a large group of villagers and hunters encircle the animal, usually trapping it near a stream where they had earlier set a cage-like trap.

As they tighten the circle, getting closer and closer, the tiger may attempt to seek refuge in the cage, and when he does one of the most skilled hunters attacks. Spears were used in the old days, but guns are more common today. The man who kills the tiger is rewarded with half its jaw, while the other half goes to the owner of the cow that had been eaten by the tiger before its death.

The chief headhunter was also wearing bands of ivory drawn tight over his muscles. In the past, he said, the Naga also hunted elephants with heated spears. But only the elders ate the elephant and tiger meat. “The Naga never hunt for money, or for no reason,” he said.

When I finally built up the courage to ask about hunting human heads, his response made my cheeks flush.

“We fought most of our battles with the Kachin, who occupied our land,” he said. “To this day, there are heaps of boulders in the jungle where the biggest battle took place. We cut off as many heads as there are rocks.”

They set ambushes, he said. “We took knives and machetes into battle, and brought the cut-off heads back to the village. Then there was a big celebration.

“In one cauldron we boiled the human heads, and in another an ox for the feast. We hung the boiled, dried-out heads above the doors and on the walls of our houses. A captured head brought a Naga glory and respect.”

As we left the village at dawn, I asked one of the other Naga men what had become of all those heads from so many villages. Had they been buried?

“They started taking them away and throwing them into the jungle,” he said.

One day, perhaps somebody will come upon them.

Please contact the writer if you have information about the fate of the soldier in the headhunter’s story. This article was translated from Polish to English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.