By: Z.K. Pahrii Pou BTC, Pfutsero
My parent told me that ‘we are Nagas’. So I always believe that I am a Naga as much as you are. Although, geographically, I belong to the present state of Manipur – (artificially created by government of India), I have reasons to claim that I am a Naga. During the First World War, when thousands of men from North East India were taken to France as Labour Corps, many of them were from my community. One of them was Railu Dailu (from Liyai Village). Once in France, they were provided with rum and whisky after every day’s hard work for relaxation. The Naga corps often drank beyond limit. One morning, Railu Dailu felt so tired due to the effect of heavy consumption of alcohol (known as ‘maatri mazie’ in Poumai) the previous night. When the supervisor of the corps – an English Army Captain, came that morning to gather the corps for work, he was actually unable to move freely. The Captain then asked him what was the matter with him, to which he replied, ‘maatri mazie’ (Poumai language) – in which condition a person would felt very tired, as if sick and everything appeared blur. His friends interpreted to the Captain. Then the Captain noted down in his diary as ‘muzzy’ (in short form) and reminded them that one day it will appear in English Dictionary. The English word muzzy actually originated from our language. What is interesting here is that it was this very group (Nagas in France labour corps) who after returning home from France formed Naga Club and became the pioneer of Naga National Movement.
When Indian government sent its armed forces to annihilate Naga National Movement, the Nagas were compelled to take up arms and go underground. The then federal government of Nagaland demanded for ‘one man out of every ten men’ from all Naga villages to fight against Indian armed forces. My community whole heartedly supported it. Still many of them are alive and continue to share how they encountered Indian armies and how the Naga general public respected them in those days. The stories of how they went to Pakistan and China continuously travelling on foot for 3 to 6 months should not be forgotten. My father, who was a school teacher, was hung upside down and beaten black and blue not only with stick but with a kind stinging plant (ngu in Poula) immersed in water to inflict maximum pain. The Indian armies beat him and other villagers because of supporting Naga National Movement. In many villages, many GBs/leaders did not live a long life after receiving all types of affliction from Indian armed forces. The brunt of brute forces of Indian armies was felt by people in all parts of Naga inhabited areas (Nagaland and outside) although in variant degrees and at different period of Naga national movement. All Naga communities have in some ways or the other contributed something to the Naga National Movement.
Naga National Movement was not only started by the Nagas living in present Nagaland state. It was/is a joint movement of all Nagas living in Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, and Myanmar. Disturbing trend among the Nagas (esp among the educated youths) in Nagaland today is that they often consider Nagas outside the present state Nagaland as not genuine or not Naga even. Not many youths in Nagaland know how much the Nagas outside of Nagaland state suffered and how they continue to suffer because of Naga National Movement. The birth of Nagaland State under Indian Constitution was undoubtedly the product of Naga freedom movement. Nagaland state enjoys special status under Constitution. Instead of recognising each other’s contributions and helping one another some Naga intellectuals seem to frown when Naga brothers and sisters outside of Nagaland seek for certain adjustment and accommodation within Nagaland. The mindset that the Nagas outside Nagaland state did not suffer as much as the Nagas in Nagaland and therefore they should not seek any benefit from Nagaland is not so healthy. If ‘those who suffer more should enjoy more’ should be the norm, then how far it is happening even within Nagaland as all the villages and all the tribes did not suffer in the same degree and those who sacrificed ‘less’ seems to be enjoying ‘more’ today.
The divide and rule policy of Indian government is gradually achieving its aims. Crores of rupees are pumped into the state year after year without accountability to content the Naga movement. The result is that many Naga youths have lost interest in continuing Naga freedom movement. At worse they criticise the Movement altogether not knowing what they are enjoying today is because of the sacrifices made by whole Naga families yesterday. If the Naga Movement were to stop today, I am afraid to think of the fate of the million Nagas residing in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and Myanmar. Unlike the Nagas in Nagaland, they continue to suffer under the domination of dominant group(s) in their respective states. Recent mass exodus of Rengmas from Assam is one of the latest examples. It is unfortunate that many young Nagas wanted to give up Naga freedom movement altogether not because that they do not like the Movement but they have problem with certain leaders and tribes among the Nagas. But if we give up the Movement altogether, will it not be like ‘throwing away the baby with bathwater’? It is obvious that the Movement has failed to bring equality among the various Naga tribes but we should not give up till a viable solution is achieved for all communities of the Nagas.
Taking advantage of the division among Naga families, Indian government is applying different ‘delaying tactics’ to wear out Naga National Movement. Central government is already busy with MP election campaign. When do we expect solution? Naga people are almost fed up with our own rights due to delayed delivery. This is a grave concern for us today. There is no unity among various Naga Political Groups (NPGs) despite the best effort of reconciliation by FNR who toils with sweat and tears. For how long FNR can continue to work for reconciliation when some NPGs are unresponsive for all these years? Is it not time for us to call ‘a spade a spade’? All the top Naga national leaders have become aged (above 70 and 80 years). We must appreciate them for giving their best for the cause of Naga nation. On the other hand, they must also thank the Naga public for giving them support and enough time to be their leaders. We prayed for long life and good health of our Naga leaders but with age no one knows when death will come. Any day! Any time! Hence, as a genuine and concerned citizen of Naga nation, I wish our Naga national leaders (wherever they may be – in New Delhi, in Myanmar, in Bangkok, in Amsterdam and in all parts of Naga inhabited areas) to hear ‘the cries of heart’ of our people. And the cry is the aspiration of all ‘Nagas to be One’. If our NPGs cannot bring us Christmas Gift from New Delhi, let it happen here in Nagalim among the Nagas. The best and most meaningful Christmas Gift for all Nagas for this year -2013 would be the ‘Gift of Unification among all Naga Political Groups’ in the name of Jesus Christ who brought reconciliation without any condition.
In genuine reconciliation there is no ‘strings attached’ apart from the spirit of love and forgiveness. Reconciliation needs not rules and principles. It is open friendship for the betterment of a society/nation. Without reconciliation and unification, Naga Nation is fast drifting down the drain of doom. Bring back unity as in those days when the Naga National Movement started and give me back my rewarding identity of ‘Naga