‘Your underwear is our underwear’. This is the most creative slogan that Nagas have come up with in a public protest
(in Zunheboto some years back) against extortion and molestation of women by a UG group. In a magazine article called ‘Wages of war
‘, the detailed rates and means of extortion by various Naga underground groups were documented. It was estimated that the collective revenue of all UG groups is about Rs. 1300 crores annually. Not a rupee of this goes back to, say, maintenance of even 1 inch of road in the State. Where does this money go? Surely it doesn’t need that much amount to negotiate peace with government of India. The source of money to fund the palatial buildings and luxury cars in the posh suburbs of Dimapur belonging to UG leaders is not hard to guess. But the above slogan goes deeper than that. It says: ‘Not only your house, your car, or the luxuries that you enjoy, that underwear which you are wearing right now is also paid by us’. Nothing is more intimate or basic than the innerwear. And the slogan says that even that is not of your own, but it is being provided by us. The image of an underwear being bought with extorted money is something which lingers in the mind. It would be a shame to be at the receiving end of the slogan and definitely would touch sensitive nerve. How does one respond to the allegation that one’s underwear is not clean? It tells of the total incapacity of one to survive on one’s own through honest sweat and labour. It is a sign of loss of respect and dignity.
By using the image of an underwear, protesters did not cross the boundary of decency. It does not appear vulgar in usage of the word. It is simply a contestation over who foots the bill of a type of loincloth. It is a democratic form of protest which does not break code of conduct expected of citizens. While the use of the image seems inappropriate for public use (as private as it is in its common usage), there is an undeniable ring of truth to the slogan. It exposes evil (making it naked), revealing the extent to which it has sickened our society.
It is an imaginative slogan. It most probably is not an imported slogan, but has the feel of Naga mentality behind its invention. So, you see, even an underwear can carry a powerful message.