Kohima, Oct. 24 : A special football match drew wide attraction here this week, as it was played to bring different Naga factional groups close to each other through a sporting event.
The match was an initiative of the Nagaland Civil Society, which used the game of football to bring the warring factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) together.
The match enabled various Naga leaders of different factions to share a common platform for the first time and reconcile their differences.
The banners used by sports lovers during the match carried messages of peace and reconciliation which has eluded Nagas for decades.
Agreeing to the growing demand of the civil society of Nagaland, different factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland came together to herald a new era which has been missing from the Nagas society for long.
The factional leaders, who have been fighting each other for long, were seen breaking the ice of hostilities by releasing balloons of peace in the air. It looked like the foes had become friends on the field and their goal posts were nothing but peace and reconciliation.
Toshi Wungtung, President Eastern Naga Public Organisation (ENPO), Nagaland, said: "It is definitely a positive step. It is a longing of the people. And, I think this is a challenge for the national worker and the political parties of the Naga underground. It is definitely a positive step."
Rev Zhabu Terhuja, President of the Nagaland Christian Forum, said: "We generally believe that a football match alone can't bring the reconciliation, but certainly it's an event which conveys a message to the people that something is taking place, which has never taken before. We hope that through this some other programs can be initiated. I mean some other programmes can be developed and be taken to the different direction, so that the outcome of other program can be more satisfactory."
People of all age groups, belonging to different Naga tribes came together to witness the football match for a cause. The match was an indication of the changing times and the pressing desire of the people to end the factional killing and violence.
The enthusiasm and support of the people for this match reflected the general mood of the people who want a peaceful harmonious existence.
Akato Chophy, a member of one NSCN faction, said: "I feel great. I have seen smile on the faces of people here. I think that entire community of Nagas wants us to play these kinds of matches and come together. They will definitely be very happy, if we reconcile."
The match was termed as 'historic' by many and it hogged the headlines of local newspapers due to its significance. All felt that it was not important who won or lost the match, but the most important thing was who participated in it.
The Naga society in general eagerly await the day when mindless killings with come to an end and peace and normalcy will be allowed to flourish in this resource rich state. By Vibou Ganguly