‘We have to unite’: Rüzhükhrie Kense

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“My elder brother stopped me from entering the Naga army but then I went,” says 78-year-old Rüzhükhrie Kense, a former soldier of the Naga Army. Kense belonged to the last group of the battalion which went to China but was then captured by the Indian Army on their way home.

“I like the Communist ideology,” he says with a shy smile. Although he can no longer remember everything that was taught during their 8 months training in China, one lesson he recalls clearly is, ‘Love your enemies. Treat them well.’ Kense recalls walking for about 73 days, starving for 10 days and getting arrested in Zunheboto on their way back home from their trip to China. Soon enough, he was deported via train and jailed in Hyderabad, Naongon and then Shillong. For Rüzhükhrie, war was not the tough part but the journey and the process was. For instance, crossing a river in the middle of the night was one task he dreaded the most.

“Nagas deserve independence,” believes Rüzhükhrie. However, he opines that the ‘underground’ soldiers today have not seen the struggle like they did. And he laments over the fact that youngsters today are not aware of the struggles they went through for a free Naga nation and even if their stories are shared, the young ones do not take it to heart or what he says in Tenyidie, “Le pesou mo.” For self-determination of the Nagas, he views, we have to start from Phizo all over again but most important of all, we have to unite.

Rüzhükhrie saw his younger brother being killed in an attack back then during the struggle. Ask him if he ever feared or felt upset watching his comrades die, he says no and adds, “There is no fear in watching someone die because I knew I will die the same way.” But then he lived, perhaps, to tell their stories.

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