Estd. 2006
United in Valor: Defending Nagaland's Village Guards

Dr Aniruddha Babar

Amidst the frontier's call, their valor shines,

Unyielding guardians, their duty aligns.

Nagaland's pride, with courage they stride,

Silent sentinels, peace they provide.

Honor them now, their plea in skies unfurled,

Embrace the great village guards, the heart of ‘our’ world.

AS THE SUN rises over the enchanting Indo-Myanmar border, a world unfolds where valor and duty intertwine with the vast expanse of untamed landscapes. For me, these borderlands have become more than just a destination; they are a cherished part of my exploratory expeditions, my learning exercises, and the source of my inner light-MY LIFE.  Among the countless encounters that have enriched my journey, one group has left an indelible mark on my heart - the village guards. Spending time with these unsung heroes has given me unparalleled insights into the realities of their lives - on duty and off duty - and the poignant need to restore their violated rights.

In the labyrinthine wilderness of the borderlands, the village guards stand as sentinels, guarding the frontiers with unwavering resolve. During my expeditions, I have had the privilege of forging connections with these courageous, seasoned soldiers. Their support, friendship and guidance have illuminated the true essence of the Indo-Myanmar border-a region where trust and camaraderie transcend borders and language barriers, before me. Their unwavering dedication to safeguarding their land, communities and their selfless services & help to the people in the region has inspired me beyond words. 

Yet, as I delved deeper into the lives of these village guards, I discovered that their valor and sacrifices were met with hardships and injustice. While their loyalty and commitment remain undeterred, their rights have been repeatedly violated. The very individuals who pledge their lives to protect the sovereignty of the nation find themselves grappling with a lack of recognition and basic facilities.

Having spent time with village guards, I have become one of the handful who have witnessed the ground reality of their lives. Beyond their uniforms and weapons, lie the aspirations of individuals who seek dignity, respect, and a fair treatment of their rights. I have seen the fatigue etched on their faces after long hours of patrolling, the longing for better amenities during their off-duty hours, and the desire for acknowledgement from the authorities.

For over six decades, these brave souls-The Village Guards, have been at the forefront, upholding peace and security along the Indo-Myanmar border. Yet, their service and sacrifices have often gone unnoticed, their basic facilities and recognition neglected. It is time for the state government to embrace the pride and honor that comes with acknowledging the village guards' contributions and grant them the deserving upgraded status in their service.

The village guards are the backbone of Nagaland's security forces, the first line of defense against any threat that looms near. Their unwavering commitment to safeguarding their homeland and its people has earned them the admiration and respect of all. As the guardians of peace, they patrol the borders, ensuring the safety and well-being of their fellow citizens. Their gallantry deserves not only recognition but also substantial support from the state government.

In 2017, the village guards made a powerful plea through the VGAN (Village Guard Association Nagaland) to the Kohima bench of Gauhati Court. This petition sought to rectify the disparity in their honorarium, which was significantly lower than that of the home guards. The court, recognizing the merit of their case, directed the state government to enhance the village guards' honorarium to be on par with the home guards, who draw Rs 520 per day per head.

Following the court's directive, the state government did take some measures to acknowledge the village guards' contributions. The honorarium was increased from Rs 1500 per month to Rs 3000 per month. However, it fell short of the court's specific directive to bring them at par with the home guards. This left the village guards feeling overlooked and undervalued, as their genuine plea for equitable treatment remained unfulfilled.

In response to this ongoing neglect, the village guards have made a powerful decision to go on "arms down." This stance is not taken lightly but is a desperate attempt to draw the state government's attention to their legitimate demands. They seek not only an upgrade in their honorarium but also a genuine recognition of their crucial role in safeguarding the state's borders and fostering a sense of security among the people.

The village guards' voluntary frontier force, consisting of over 9500 dedicated soldiers, has been an integral part of Nagaland's security landscape for decades. Their service is not merely a job; it is a calling, a commitment to protect and serve their land and its people. It is high time that their unwavering loyalty and sacrifices be rewarded with the dignity and recognition they deserve.

The rights of village guards, the bedrock of peace and security in this volatile border region, need to be restored. Their call for equitable treatment and a dignified existence must be heeded. As I reflect on their plight, I realize that their voices have remained unheard for too long. It is incumbent upon all of us - citizens, policymakers, and leaders - to come together and advocate for the restoration of their rights.

In doing so, we honor not only the sacrifices of the village guards but also reaffirm the values of justice and humanity. Their tireless dedication to safeguarding our borders deserves more than mere lip service; it demands concrete actions to ensure their well-being and prosperity.

The village guards of Nagaland are the epitome of valor, embodying the true spirit of guardianship. Their selfless service along the Indo-Myanmar border has been the bedrock of peace in the region. It is incumbent upon the state government to heed their genuine plea for an upgraded status and equitable honorarium. Recognizing the village guards' contributions and ensuring their basic facilities are met will not only uplift their spirits but also demonstrate the state government's commitment to honoring those who stand tall to protect its people and its pride. The time has come to empower the pride of Nagaland - the village guards - and shower them with the respect and gratitude they truly deserve.

Let us defend the honor of our Village Guards. Let us stand united in the pursuit of justice and recognition for our brave village guards, for their valor and sacrifice knows no bounds. Together, we can ignite the flame of change and empower the pride of Nagaland, ensuring their honor is restored, and their essential role in safeguarding our borders is celebrated with the dignity it deserves.

(Dr Aniruddha Babar is a faculty in the Department of Political Science at the Tetso College in Nagaland.)

July 25 2023