Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Gun

One of the things about Nagaland that was hard to understand was the number of military dudes with machine guns walking around. I'm not talking about the occasional sighting, they were literally everywhere. I became a bit obsessed with taking their pictures - especially when I saw them shopping, taking pictures, holding babies or eating chocolate. On a couple of occasions, Heather and I asked them to pose for a picture with us and each time the hardened look of a man with a machine gun turned into a friendly smile. I came to understand that there are multiple insurgency groups in Nagaland who are interested in gaining independence from India in order to make Nagaland its own sovereign country. After talking with many Naga people, it seems like there is a lot of support for Naga independence, yet the violence of the movement has turned a lot of people off (something I can appreciate). It was explained to me that the military dudes with AK 47's were there to protect people from the insurgency (shootings, kidnappings, extortion, etc.).... yet many people seemed just as skeptical of the military as they did the underground groups. At the end of the day, I realized that this is a complex situation that has many sides but that the Naga people were tired of the violence from all sides and just wanted to live peaceful lives.

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