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Nagaland Civilian Killings: Hornbill Festival Canceled, Alobo Naga Postpones Musik-A Festival

The state government and organizers of Hornbill called off the 10-day event “in solidarity with the bereaved families”

Anurag Tagat Dec 07, 2021

The crowd at Hornbill Music Festival in Dimapur, Nagaland in December 2018. Photo: Courtesy of TaFMA

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Two days after 14 civilians and one soldier were killed in an attack in the Oting and Mon area of Nagaland, the North East state has pressed pause on all cultural activities.

The 10-day Hornbill Festival — which runs from December 1st to December 10th — was suspended yesterday, followed by a formal announcement of canceling the rest of the festival from the state government. Elsewhere, noted pop artist Alobo Naga, whose music festival Musik-A was slated to start on December 7th, also announced via a YouTube message that he was postponing the event.

The news comes on the back of reports of angry mobs, candlelight vigils and an FIR filed by Nagaland police against the Indian Army unit which was reportedly carrying out a “counter-insurgency operation.” The government of Nagaland posted their statement of canceling Hornbill on Twitter, stating, “As a mark of respect to our brothers slain at Oting, Mon and in solidarity with the bereaved families, all festivities at the Hornbill Festival 2021 have been officially cancelled.”

Yesterday morning, blues rock veterans Soulmate, who were scheduled to perform on December 7th, announced that they were pulling out of the festival. “In solidarity with the people of Nagaland and in support of the families of the innocent people that were massacred by the Assam Rifles and also in view of the seriousness of the situation, we Soulmate, have decided not to perform at the Hornbill Festival, at this point in time.”

Alobo Naga took to YouTube to announce he was postponing Musik-A, which was slated to run from December 7th to December 9th, including a battle of the bands, beatboxing and an EDM night featuring international and local DJs. He said in his video message, “Our festival was supposed to start tomorrow, on December 7th. The artists are here, everything was set […] We are postponing the festival because we cannot celebrate when our family members are crying and mourning at the moment. We want to respect everyone’s sentiments and we’ll wait for when the time is right. We want to say sorry to all our participants and we hope you understand.”

The singer-composer also had a strong message to send out regarding the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which Nagaland and Meghalaya governments have asked to repeal in the wake of the killings. Naga said, “We will fight this battle together and we’ll make sure the culprits… whoever did wrong, will be punished and we’ll get justice. Repeal AFSPA.”

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