A Naga Sojourn

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti

Nagaland, well-known for its natural beauty and breath-taking pristine natural forests is also known for its warm and hospitable people. In December 1968, I was posted in Pfutsero in Kohima District of Nagaland, as Second-in-Command of a CRPF Battalion. The Battalion was deployed to aid the Government of Nagaland in maintaining Law and Order.

 

Pfutsero

Pfutsero, Nagaland | Image credit : touristlink.com

 

The State of Nagaland was formed on 1st December 1963.

The “Cease Fire” between the Security Forces and the Insurgents was in force when I joined my new Battalion. Our Battalion Headquarters were stationed in Pfutsero at a height of 7000 feet. It was the highest and the coldest among the inhabited places in Nagaland.

In view of the “Cease Fire” we were asked to conduct ”Fraternization Programme’’ with the Naga people. This gave us the opportunity to observe and know about life and culture of Nagas. We made good friends, developed close contacts with the locals and participated in their social functions.

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Knowing the Nagas

Our Unit was located in the area where the Chakhesang Nagas lived. It is said that the Nagas who migrated to this land first settled in this area, and from here spread to all parts of Nagaland.

Each Naga tribe has its distinct customs, language and dress.

The Angami Nagas and a few other tribes have beautiful terraces where they practise terrace cultivation. Konyak Nagas are known for their exquisite bamboo and wood carvings, and their ability to produce useful and artistic objects.

Bamboo craft, Nagalnd

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Naga villagers won our trust

Once we were invited for a marriage ceremony in a village. We went by our convoy up to a certain point where we were received by our local hosts. Having known about the honesty and uprightness of Nagas, we went to the village on foot, unarmed. We, later came to learn that an underground group had camped somewhere near the village, but as we were their guests, they did not harm us.

It reinforced our belief in their trustworthiness and their open hearted nature.

Naga architecture

Angami morung, youth dormitory | Image credit : chambersarchitects.com

 

Settling of land dispute by Naga villagers

During one of my visits to the Circle Headquarter in a place called Chazouba, the Circle Officer, who was the local civil authority, told me that two adjoining villages had a dispute over some land, which they decided to sort out in a combat. He asked for the CRPF help to maintain Law and Order.

Naga tribes

Image credit : chambersarchitects.com

 

On reaching the place with our Force, I saw that the entire population of both the villages got together there. The village women served food and drinks to their menfolk to provide more strength to their muscles and sinews. After the necessary preparations, the warriors of both the villages faced each other in a spacious open area. Each village formed a compact body of men who pushed the other side with all their strength, almost like a tug of war.

As we meddled in between and tried to restrain them, they conveyed through suitable gestures that they did not want us to interfere. We stood aside and monitored the proceedings on the advice of the Circle Officer.

They were engaged in the unarmed combat for about an hour, but none of the groups yielded ground to the other side. Ultimately they decided to call off the battle vowing to meet again.

The episode revealed the fiercely independent character of the Nagas, their martial traditions and their indigenous ways of resolving conflicts.

My sojourn in Nagaland came to an end in Jan, 1971 when I received the order of my transfer on promotion as Commandant. During the two years of my stay in Nagaland, we received whole hearted co-operation from the local population. Except for an odd incident of ambush by some disparate rebel elements, my tenure passed peacefully. I found Nagas to be one of the friendliest and most hospitable people I have come across.

I learnt from my tenure in Nagaland that success in endeavours depend on good team work and goodwill of the people we serve.

 

 

 

 


This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.

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Readers Comments (33)

  1. Nagaland is one most beautiful places in North east. I wonder when I can pack my bags and leave for Nagaland.

    Wonderful info 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti March 22, 2015 @ 10:15 am

      Indeed Nagaland is a beautiful state with a fine people of whom our country can be proud. Thanks for your appreciation

      Reply
  2. I have always wanted to visit the east of India but haven’t got lucky yet. Just seems to me that the people out there are living a relatively peaceful life compared to the hectic life of Delhi and surrounding areas.

    Your experience gives so much to learn about Nagas.

    Reply
  3. Interesting and informative read,

    Reply
  4. I have this desire deep in my heart to do an elaborate tour of northeast, hope some day I will.
    A great post on this beautiful state. Lovely pics.

    Reply
  5. Fantastic!
    Love your posts about remote, not so popular places.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. bhudeb chakrabarti March 22, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

    Many thanks for your kind comments .The highlanders in the North East of our country though remote from the rest of the country occupy an important place in our great and varied family of Indians .

    Reply
  7. Nice Description of the North Eastern Part of our Country…. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  8. bhudeb chakrabarti March 22, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

    Many thanks for your nice words. Nagaland and other States of the North Eastern part of India have natural beauty which is yet to be fully explored .

    Reply
  9. Quite an in-depth and informative article! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  10. Thank you Chakrabarti-saab for sharing a brief but delightful memoir of your battalion days in the green Naga highlands . It offers an insight into the character of these strong and resilient people .

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti March 23, 2015 @ 11:09 am

      I am grateful to you Mr Gautam Chakraborti for liking my brief narrative on my Nagaland experience .The fine Naga people free and independent are equally warm and friendly .

      Reply
  11. I come to know a lot from this post. Hope one day I’ll be able to visit this wonderful state…. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Nice description. I wish I could visit sometime.

    Reply
  13. bhudeb chakrabarti March 23, 2015 @ 11:16 am

    Ms Maniparna Sengupta Majumder Many thanks for your kind appreciation .Hope you will have the opportunity to visit this charming land .

    Reply
  14. bhudeb chakrabarti March 23, 2015 @ 11:34 am

    Mr Abhijit Thank you for your kind encouragement .Wish you get the chance to visit the exotic hill state soon .

    Reply
  15. A different but an interesting kind of post! loved reading to a tee!

    Reply
  16. Great to read your post, Thanks

    Reply
  17. Pranab chakraborti March 23, 2015 @ 9:10 pm

    Liked the post and enjoyed reading it. It’s really interesting to know about a place and people we have very little idea.

    Reply
  18. bhudeb chakrabarti March 24, 2015 @ 10:32 am

    Happy to learn you enjoyed reading my post .I tried to give a bit of information about a remote yet a beautiful place and about distant people fine in all respects .

    Reply
  19. This is such an interesting incident. It is rooted in their culture and hence should be promoted. We have read so much about the French dueling with pistols etc and hence we feel that is honourable. It is time that we should promote these contests of the nagas. Proud that my country has so much of diversity in cultures and traditions.

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakrabarti March 25, 2015 @ 8:33 am

      Many thanks for your excellent thoughts .Yes we are proud to be Indians . We deeply value the diversity of our cultures and the basic unity of our Nation .

      Reply
  20. I would love to see some visuals from your personal collection. You must be having a few.

    Reply
  21. bhudeb chakrabarti March 25, 2015 @ 8:38 am

    Many thanks for reading my post. The episode is quite old of which I have got only fond memories .

    Reply

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