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Monday, July 22, 2024

From Protectors To Partners: Transforming Village Guards For A Resilient Frontier Naga Territory

Amidst the rugged terrains of Frontier Nagaland, the Village Guards stand tall as the unsung heroes, the guardians of India's sovereignty. With unwavering commitment and indomitable spirit, they protect their villages and communities, defending the very essence of our nation. Their courage and sacrifice resonate through the valleys and echo in the mountains of Nagaland, reminding us of their invaluable role in safeguarding our frontiers and maintaining law and order.

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By: Dr. Aniruddha Babar

As I ventured into the picturesque landscapes of Frontier Nagaland, I found myself captivated by the raw beauty of the region and the vibrant culture, simplicity, openness, and straightforward character of its people. During my expeditions in this enchanting yet one of the most backward regions of the world, I had the privilege of encountering the unsung heroes of the frontier villages -the Village Guards. These brave individuals, driven by a deep sense of duty, not only protect their villages and communities but also have the potential to play a vital role in supporting the Assam Rifles in guarding the borders and maintaining law and order. Curiosity led me to discover that Helipong Village in the Tuensang District has 20 village guards, Tuensang village has 77, Chingmelen village has 28, Buthenbou village has 20, and Ngangpong village has 30 village guards.

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In Noklak District, Pang village has 60 village guards, Thonoknyu village has 30, Chiliso village has 25, Pathso village has 19, Pathso Nokeng village has 17, Sanglao village has 37, Noklak village has 35, Langnok village has 50, Nokhu village has 50, New Pangsha has 36, Wonthoi has 45, Old Pangsha village has 25, Nokyan village has 40, and Peshu village has 31 village guards. Additionally, in Kiphire District, Phelungre village has 40 village guards, Amahator village has 34, Kiphire village has 35, Langkok village has 25, and Singrep village has 50 village guards. In Longleng District, Pongo village has 34 village guards.

During my travels to the remotest regions in the eastern part of Nagaland, which I proudly call my own, I had the opportunity to meet and forge close friendships with many Village Guards. Their dedication and commitment to the safety of their communities were truly remarkable. As we sat around bonfires, sharing stories and experiences in Naga-Hindi, Nagamese, and with the help of translators, I was struck by their unwavering resolve to protect their ancestral lands and preserve their way of life. These strong, ancient men, often with limited resources and training, stood tall as the guardians of their villages, bravely facing any challenges that came their way.

However, as I delved deeper into the security dynamics of the region, it became clear to me that the Village Guards needed to be modernized and equipped with the necessary tools to effectively carry out their duties. In the face of ever-evolving security threats, the heavy influence of China in neighbouring Myanmar, as well as the insurgency dynamics centered around Myanmar, it is imperative that the Village Guards are provided with modern weapons and technology to bolster their capabilities. This is not only crucial for the protection of their villages but also for supporting the Assam Rifles in their efforts to safeguard the borders and maintain law and order.

In the wake of the proposed Frontier Naga Territory, the role of the Village Guards will take on an altogether different dimension. This new administrative unit will demand a heightened level of vigilance and preparedness. The Village Guards, with their intricate knowledge of the local terrain and close ties to the communities, are poised to become the frontline defenders of this new territory. Their intimate understanding of the region’s security dynamics and their unwavering commitment make them invaluable assets in ensuring the success of the Frontier Naga Territory.

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To effectively modernize the Village Guards Force, a comprehensive policy approach is required. To elevate their capabilities, several key steps can be taken. First and foremost, it is essential to give them the well-deserved recognition and respect. The Village Guard is not merely a “Chowkidar” or a “Multi-Tasking Staff” for the rich; they are paramilitary troopers, and we must not forget that. Village Guards should be treated with dignity and honour by all. Providing them with sophisticated modern weapons is crucial to boost their morale and operational capabilities. Equipping them with advanced firearms and communication devices will significantly enhance their ability to respond to security threats effectively. Additionally, updating their uniforms to a modern and attractive design can instill a sense of pride and professionalism among the Village Guards. A well-designed uniform not only boosts morale but also presents a unified and organized image.

By implementing these measures, the Village Guards can be modernized into a highly efficient and professional force. Equipped with sophisticated weapons, donning attractive uniforms, and supported by regular training, they will be better prepared to fulfill their responsibilities of protecting their villages, professionally supporting the Assam Rifles in guarding the borders, and maintaining law and order in the region while ably assisting the Police Force.

As someone who has deeply witnessed firsthand the unique security challenges faced by the region, I am acutely aware of the pressing need for a modernized Village Guards Force. Informed by freewheel discussions and personal interactions, the heavy Chinese influence in Myanmar, both psychological and strategic, as well as the possible strategic alliance of several insurgent outfits in Myanmar, poses a significant threat that demands serious concern. By empowering the Village Guards Force with the necessary resources and support, we can build a robust security network that not only safeguards our villages and communities but also acts as a bulwark against external forces seeking to undermine our sovereignty.

In conclusion, my personal experiences and encounters with the Village Guards in Eastern Nagaland have highlighted the tremendous potential they possess. They are not merely protectors of their villages; they have the ability to support the Assam Rifles in guarding the borders and maintaining law and order. To unlock this potential, it is crucial to modernize the Village Guards by providing them with modern weapons, training, and support. The proposed Frontier Naga Territory presents an opportunity to reshape the role of the Village Guards and harness their expertise in safeguarding the new administrative unit. As we embark on this transformative journey, let us strive to create a new generation of Village Guards for a new frontier – strong, capable, and ready to defend our land, our people, and our shared future.

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Amidst the rugged terrains of Frontier Nagaland, the Village Guards stand tall as the unsung heroes, the guardians of India’s sovereignty. With unwavering commitment and indomitable spirit, they protect their villages and communities, defending the very essence of our nation. Their courage and sacrifice resonate through the valleys and echo in the mountains of Nagaland, reminding us of their invaluable role in safeguarding our frontiers and maintaining law and order.

In the company of my towering mountain comrades, there came a time when I crossed paths with a seasoned Village Guard, an ancient soul whose indomitable spirit shone through his weathered countenance, a testament to the challenges he had faced. As I prepared to depart from his watchful post with my local buddy, he stood firm, unwavering in his resolve, offering a salute that spoke volumes of his unwavering commitment. In that brief yet profound moment, his Naga styled Hindi words resonated within me, “Saab, humkobhulnanahihaa” (Sir, do not forget us).

In that profound moment of clarity, I comprehended my rightful position among their noble ranks, embodying the role of a protector for the people and the revered land. Filled with a sense of pride, I gazed upon him, straightened my posture, adjusted my cap and reciprocated his salute with equal “HONOR”. (The author is an academician in the Dept of Political Science, Tetso College, Nagaland)

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