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Dawning Of Truth To Crown Indo-Naga Talks (My rendezvous with truth)

Not compelled by anybody but as the dictates of my conscience, I must lay down the following facts – complex Naga thoughts and the politics. Seen right from the beginning it is something else, compared with the present day situation, it conveys entirely different meanings. The present is most guided and influenced by guns only.

I start with Simon Commission. In 1929, Naga Club submitted a memorandum on behalf of Naga Club. I was, however, not witness to it. But two signatories, viz, Razhukhrie Master and Levi Kacha Naga, a clerk, latter on Head clerk in DC’s office. Kohima, happened to be known to me very well in 1949, when I was a teacher in Kohima Govt High School. They were good men, men of peace and of high integrity. They were two out of 20 signatories. Excerpts, “Nagas should not be included within the Reformed Scheme of India…..Pray that our Hills may be withdrawn from the Reformed Scheme and placed outside the Reforms but directly under the British Government. Before the British conquered our country in 1879-80, we were living in a state of intermittent warfare with the Assamese of Assam valley to the north and west of our country and Manipur to the south. .. “Our country within the administered area consists of more than 8 regions quite different from one another, with quite different languages which cannot be understood by each other……We have no unity among us and it is only the British Government that is holding together now……but leave us alone to determine ourselves as in ancient times”. It is a document most revealing the fears, aspirations and vision of the Hill people as a whole as it was pure expression of thoughts emanated from the heart. These two gentlemen continued in their posts till 1952/53.

During this period of my stay in Kohima, I along with my student friends, used to be often in a very famous Phizo’s compound most of the time, because there were 4 houses, more or less clubbed together in the same compound, being members of the same family, so to say. One of the reasons was that of a clean honest person Chalie Iralu, the elder brother of Rano Iralu Shaiza, was my friend having studied together in Calcutta. Another much respected elder person who was our spiritual counselor was Rev. Sovino.

During these frequent visits, we several times came across A.Z. Phizo from whom we heard first hand from his philosophy on Naga issue and became very intimate to each other. Phizo was a very busy man, highly respected, visiting all the Naga headquarters, but strangely he never mentioned his desire to visit Ukhrul or meet any Tangkhul leader, even though later on Rano had married Lungshim Shaiza, a Tangkhul (now no more and a signatory to Shillong Accord)

In 1951, I was shifted to Wokha as acting Headmaster in the Govt Aided High School. During my stay in Wokha, frequent visitors to Wokha on way to Mokokchung, were, Aliba Imti, then Secretary NNC, and Sashimeren Aiyer, an MA from Allahabad University, a good friend of a powerful man, Nsemo Lotha (the black nose) who was Circle Officer of the area. My very good friend there at Wokha was a Lotha gentlemen, in the name of K. Yanthan (now called Khodao Yanthan), and another Lotha friend was Mhomdomo Lotha, the first BA among the Lothas. Whenever Phizo visited Wokha, we always met. I was very much present when Naga Plebiscite was conducted in May 1951. Tochi Hanso, Tsponhse Sangtam, H.K.Sema, Rano Skaiza, Rev.V.K. Nuh. like them, there are still many worthy senior citizens living who are so well known to the dynamics of Plebiscite.

In 1953, I left Wokha and joined the Mokokchung Govt High School, as a Science teacher. In those days, to be a teacher in Mokokchung Govt High School was a great honor. There I met my old friends including Chuba Mayang, Mokopa, Mepu Yemchen, Miss Chubala, Subongmeiba, Stephen Imti, Dhoroni Baruah, Remasangba, Konghor, Gogoi, Imtisusang and famous Roy Master, under the leadership of Mayangnokcha our headmaster, who was the first BA among the Aos and second graduate among the whole Nagas having graduated in 1927, who stole the show as our great leader. It was really a joy to stay and work in Mokokchung mixing with the most influential leaders like Imlong Chang, Rev. Madem-kaba, Marasusang, Hopungki, Nokchura, Imkongmeren, then Vice-President of NNC and Dr. Imkongliba founder of Naga Convention in whose house I was staying. While playing football, Noksang towered everybody, a great giant who is also the brother of football legion T Ao. I mentioned the names of these great friends, because they played very important roles in molding the Naga issues which cannot be forgotten. Sadly enough, this good company came to an end abruptly during the later part of 1954, with the establishment of Naga National High School by NNC. And half of the Govt High School Teachers shifted their loyalty to the National movement.

The Govt High School was closed untimely, and I had to leave Mokokchung, the place I loved so much, with the non-local teachers. I went straight to Shillong and started looking for jobs, but what a relief, without any effort, I was just absorbed in the NEFA Secretariat with helps from great men like Ysuf Ali, then Deputy Advisor to Governor, and N.K.Rustomji, ICS, then Advisor to Governor.

It was during this period that in February 1955, I submitted a Memorandum/Petition to the Governor of Assam, Doulotram, a great soul. I explained to him what was happening in Naga Hills and the rapid deterioration of law and order in that area. What I wrote to the Governor is given, excerpts, “‘˜the reason of submitting this Memorandum to your Excellency today is on a very serious matter. Naga Hills has started boiling on Naga Independent issue. But Naga Hills is only a District in Assam, which is at present giving so much headache and problems to your Excellency. As you know, the fact that there are several thousand Nagas in Manipur State. If these Nagas of Manipur started joining in the Naga Independent movement, the problem of hostile activities will be doubled. My humble submission to you is, therefore, to contain the hostile activities in Naga Hills alone through negotiations or otherwise before it is too late. If this is not done immediately, time will soon come, not only the Nagas of Manipur, but a great number of semi-naked Nagas confined in the unadministered areas beyond Naga Hills, Assam, who are at present quite ignorant of what is going on in Naga Hills, will be automatically drawn into this Independent movement”.

I am narrating my experiences during the above period, and what actually happened during that period as I knew them, so that distortion of some facts and deviation from truths, may be set straight, so that hurling of words without exactly knowing the truth, against one another may be stopped as this has done enough damage and stiffen peoples attitude.

Like me, there are still many people living who are so well known to me in Kohima, Wokha, Mokokchung, Tuensang, and Zunheboto, places which I used to frequent, people who knew Razhukhrie and Levi as I knew them, and what they used to tell us about the differences between the NNC, the Naga Club Submission of Memorandum to Simon Commission and the Plebiscite of May 16, 1951 which claimed 99.9% as mentioned there in. It is also no changing the fact why the leaders including Church leaders of learning & repute and erudition who saw and participated, do not say the real percentage, just for truth sake, though it hardly matters today whether one percent voted or 100% voted as thought process has traveled too long. For it to recoil may cause nervous breakdown. One fact figures however, is that this plebiscite emotionally integrated the various Naga tribes and boosted the cause to get all areas beyond Dikhu river, of NEFA administration under one banner and hastened the creation of ultimate Nagaland, not withstanding present generation of Nagas to ponder, Who, Where, Which Tribe were those persons who participated in the plebiscite.

The other point is, till the beginning of 1955, many Nagas in Manipur State were not actively involved in the Naga Independent movement. It was a novel to them. Similarly, the Nagas in the un-administered areas were quite ignorant of the then prevailing issues. I am, therefore, inclined to support some of the contents of’ Bedrock to Naga Society’ as true, though with a little reservation on points like, quote: “and emanates from a section of frustrated politicians solely for the sake of narrow political and personal gains”. This is not very correct. With regard to frustrated politicians, this is everywhere these days not only in Nagaland or Manipur but also in all the States of India and countries adjoining India sub-continent is affected more seriously with this virus. For example, the happenings in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Myanmar there is no Democracy in spite of people’s desire and UNO’s directive. Myanmar has little control over Kachin State. As a result of seclusive administration far away from Rangoon, Kachins have no access to Stillwell Road to Assam or with Konyaks of Nagaland, and Noktes, Wanchoos in Arunachal Pradesh. Also the wording, quote “Slavery was common”. This also is not quite correct. During my continuous six years stay in Naga Hills from 1949 to 1954, I did not come across any slavery as such in any village, except in one or two Sema villages, and say, in one village Chuchuyimlang, an Ao village, there were some Phom Nagas who were 75% naked who worked as laborers for these villagers for several years, and who themselves reconciled to their fate to work as laborers for these families. However, since Nagas used to do head-hunting and bring cut heads as trophies and some weaklings to work for them in their fields, may be close to slavery. I don’t know if this can be called as slavery. The other point is: quote “the recent re-solution of the village representatives from 1068 villages at the VDB conference speaks volumes about the attitude of the people towards violence” is only of the Nagaland State, and not of the Nagas as a whole.

Now, why I say there is truth in ‘˜Bedrock of Naga Society’, is because, it is a bold statement of facts, and also, because, it gives the option for those Nagas inhabiting contiguous areas the chance to join the new State. R.S.Suisa, who was elected MP from outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency in 1957, asserted himself as a Naga politician who wanted to play a very important role to solve the Naga problem, when simultaneously the Naga Convention meetings were on. He gave some concrete proposals to NNC president AZ Phizo, but unfortunately they were rejected outright indicating that Suisa should not poke his nose in the Naga Affairs. Angnal’s involvement in Naga movement, so also Z Ramyo’s and Th Muivah’s appointment as general secretary of NNC have lots of connections with the formation of Nagaland and the option to join the Nagaland State. Following the 16 point agreement, ceasefire in Nagaland between the Federal Government of Nagaland and the Government of India with the formation of Nagaland Peace Mission. Immediately thereafter, everybody knows the role played by Rev. Longri Ao, later on declared as ‘˜Man of Peace’ by the Govt of Nagaland, who moved from village to village, and from camp to camp in flying bullets and bring peace. How can you forget such people? This was followed by Shillong Accord. All the Accords did not yield the desired result because among other problems, the disunity among the Nagas.

This disunity among the Naga leaders continues to be the disruptive force for any peaceful solution to this long vexed Naga movement. Truth has been substituted by falsehood, forgiveness has been substituted by revenge, and reconciliation has been substituted by retaliation. This must stop. The slogan of Nagaland for Christ must have Christian meaning. Christ is the Prince of peace. Goodwill towards your brethren and God’s forgiveness to Nagas should bear fruits by Nagas forgiving one another. This is my earnest appeal to all the Nagas, particularly to those Nagas who are armed as tools of murder to add more grieving families. God forbid. Don’t encourage using this tools. Nagas are afraid to tell the truth for fear. They cannot move freely and they cannot sleep in peace in their own homes. In this condition, what the ceasefire can bring to Naga society? Can people expect any lasting solution on this foundation of fear?

Having said so about the unity initiated in 1929, I would like to put across plain ponderables for posterity to consider and examine and evaluate sincerely. Though not with any contempt, signatories to Simon Commission included 4 chaprasis, peskars some interpreters and teachers, but the aim of protecting tribal identity was achieved. It appears to me that signatories of Memorandum to Simon Commission had such a great vision when they said that “they had no unity, only the British Government was holding them together”. Can you at times, imagine that Indian Government is holding the Nagas together ? If Nagas are left alone to determine for themselves as in ancient times or with modern weaponry in hand, can they live together in peace? Just imagine what the state of affairs would be? It would be horrendous!

If the present hate Tangkhul campaign has overtaken other important Naga issues, then how are we going to differentiate in parallel the desire for Kuki homeland and greater Nagaland in Manipur? Where as in Nagaland, Kukis are Nagas, and Nagas in Nagaland accept Kukis as their kith and kin, but Tangkhuls are not accepted as Nagas and anyone calling Tangkhuls as Nagas are in danger of extermination. What is this? Is it the manifestation of fasting prayers for Naga unity with Nagaland for Christ banner? God forbid. Hence to consider Tangkhuls as not Nagas is also not truth. It is the duty of Nagaland Government not to allow such thing to happen.

Solution to the vexed problem apart, it creates unnecessary tensions amongst Tangkhuls in Nagaland.

When Isaac Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah came to Niuland for Naga consultation, many Nagas felt that it was a God sent opportunity to see the Naga leaders face to face and talked to them personally exchanging views as to how Naga problem could be solved peacefully across the table instead of shedding precious blood. Nagas were greatly relieved that with their coming to Nagalim, the negotiation would be speedily concluded. But now it appears that the talk is farther than it was before, and ‘˜peace has evaded the Nagas’. Nagas have failed to create an atmosphere of confidence among themselves.

But one thing for sure, which is quite clear. The Nagas lead the way to all, in all the vex problems of the North East States. It is also the admitted fact that the Government of India and for that matter, the concerned World know that the only solution to all these vex problems lies with the Nagas. Once the Naga problem is solved, and Nagas live in peace with India, side-by-side, peace and tranquility will prevail in the region. In conclusion, I want to place this humble appeal to all Nagas for their considerations, basing on the speech by our great leader at Niuland, quote, “Now is the time for negotiation, not confrontation. Naga national struggle for sovereignty being a mass movement, it would be incomplete not to take the people into full confidence. It has turned the bush war into a political platform, where everyone is free to give his views, any autocratic decision taken by a few or decision taken basing on the imposed will of others is no solution at all”.

That, (a) An apex body of people who matter from all walks having influence on underground factions, hill leaders of adjoining States, leaders of all underground factions of all the seven sister North-East States, the Chief Ministers of these States be constituted to effect conciliation for peace and settlement of issue. Past facts and future considerations in mind, as Nagas now cannot exist in isolation.

(b) Dependence on any country or countries is useful only on mutual contribution

(c) Centuries old interaction with Indians and modern contributions of Nagas to Indian culture and civilization must not be overlooked and ignored. (d) Differences based on bitterness of past be forgotten and forgiven by all.

(e) One common goal with only one master. Whatever is given, be thankful to God, enough is enough, Man Proposes God disposes.

*The article is written by K Prongo

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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