Nagaland: What brought the Konyaks to the centre of a never-ending conflict

A pamphlet at the Hornbill festival venue in Kisama as Konyak and six other tribes of eastern Nagaland shut their traditional houses at the festival in protest. Photo: Twitter

On the first day of December, as has been the annual tradition for more than two decades now, the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama was buzzing with celebratory cries of around 12,000 people. The enthusiasm was unmistakable, also because last year everyone had to be content with a virtual celebration of the famed Hornbill festival due to Covid-19.

Celebrated around 10 km from the state capital of Kohima, the 10-day festival–to commemorate the Nagaland Statehood Day–has been drawing tourists bitten by wanderlust and in search of exotic cultural romanticism in huge numbers. Hornbill fest fitted the bill perfectly with its array of music, food, fashion and culture against the backdrop of stunning natural beauty that the hill state is famous for.

Among those present at the venue this time were 11 foreign tourists and thousands from other parts of the country. Diplomats from several nations, including the US, Germany and Australia also took part in the festival that is one of the biggest opportunities for the state government to promote Nagaland as peaceful and tourist-friendly.

Looking at the cheerful crowd, governor Jagdish Mukhi proudly announced at the inauguration day, "The day is not far when the much-awaited peace agreement with Naga rebel groups will be signed. Everyone should make up their minds to create a conducive atmosphere for welcoming the new dawn of peaceful and progressive Nagaland."

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