Occasions of a visit of a Governor of a province to a district are always welcome, in as much as such occasions afford the people the opportunity to present their problems and desires to the distinguished visitor. This occasion of Your Excellency’s visit to Nagaland is specially welcome and the reasons are obvious.
Your Excellency has undertaken this tour to these hills at a season when the treacherous hillside make a smooth drive along the hill road uncertain. In this, the Naga people have the assurance that your Excellency is anxious to meet their desires, and that their case will receive Your Excellency’s most sympathetic consideration.
As is known to Your Excellency, the Naga people have submitted a Memorandum to His Majesty’s Government and the Government of India, asserting their right for self-determination and demanding the setting up an Interim Government of the Naga People for a period of ten years, so as to enable the Nagas to be so schooled as to make a responsible choice at the end of the ten years. Apart from the reply given by the Prime Minister of England to a question of Sir Walter Smiles, seen in the newspaper columns, no reply to this Memorandum of the Naga people has been received. The Naga National Council still looks for a reply, and reiterates the statement made in the Memorandum that: “A constitution drawn by people will be quite unsuitable and unacceptable to the Naga people. “it is our desire to make it plain to Your Excellency that it will not be enough to say in the end that a constitution has been drawn up on the lines suggested by the Cabinet Mission. We know that Your Excellency will concede that the Naga people has much right for self-determination as any other people. Our request to Your Excellency is to do all that is in your power to enable the Nagas to stand on their own feet, so that they may be worthy members of a civilized world.
When a deputation of the Nagas very recently waited on Your Excellency, Your Excellency was appraised of the demand of the Naga people for the restoration of their old boundary. The ancient boundary with the Ahom kingdom, previously scrupulously observed by the Ahoms, has been overstepped throughout its length. All the valuable forests, previously a part of the Naga Hills have been transferred to Sibsagar district, or Nowgong district; an appendix to this is given. In fairness, justice and equality, Nagaland should be restored to the Nagas for it is our one great cry that Nagaland should be for the Nagas. We would urge Your Excellency to set up immediately a Boundary Commission to go into this very important question. In giving an outline of our Memorandum to the Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee, we pointed out that Nagaland should be inalienable. We must state that any attempt to give any portion of the Naga Hills to non-Nagas in settlement during this transition period will be most strongly opposed.
The Naga National Council stands for the solidarity of all the Naga Tribes. The present Naga Hills district has arbitrarily been carved out for administrative convenience only. It is now our desire that Your Excellency takes all steps to bring all the Naga Tribes together, for they will all naturally desire to be together.
When the Naga people are seeking aid for their Interim Government, it is only fair and reasonable that they be not deprived of their just share, when the assets of the present Central Government of India are divided, and when reparation from Japan (the Naga Hills being the worst sufferer) is received. To this end we would urge Your Excellency to do all that is possible to help us. It is our earnest hope that this first visit of Your Excellency to our Nagland will not be the last, and that Your Excellency will next see us established according to our desires.
By: Dr. Thohe Pou
One should appreciate and acknowledge what other people have done for you. A memory stone (monolith) may be erected in memory and honor of her or his contribution or helping the people. It is encouraging and laudable that Indian Army under Military Civil Action (MCA) projects have constructed some of the Soccer play ground in Senapati District, Manipur. Do you think the MCA is actively involved in bringing some infrastructures for the people in Senapati District as the present MLAs and Ministers from Senapati District and the Govt. of Manipur have no much developmental plan for the people?
It is interesting to note that Purul Akutpa village play ground, which was constructed under MCA, is christened after the name Maj. Gen. KK Sinha memorial play ground as he helped to construct the village’s play ground. The Maram Khunou village play ground is named after Brigadier Sharma – the Taphou Phyamai village play ground is also named after Major General Binoy Poonnen.
Why to name after one person when the contribution is or fund are from MCA, public or state Govt.? Naming of a place or anything after the name of the person who helps to do is nothing but shows only selfishness and hunger of fame. Why Tamenglong – Halflong road which was constructed by DC Amstrong Pame is not christened after him? This is very simple. He works for the public and not for his own fame. One may accept the concept of naming a village, place or playground if it is contributed individually and constructed the playground. But it is quite amusing when one uses his or her name using common or public fund. Do you think that in the future all the indigenous name of the place, village, house etc will be named after the name of the person who help to make or contributor? Is this trend of naming a road, play ground or anything after a person is a good sign?
The ground was constructed under Military Civic Action (MCA) and not a single penny will be taken out from the concerned army officer. May be there will be someone who will bring some development in your village and he or she may want to re-name after his or her name. Will you sell your village for the sake of developments? It may be also possible that Senapati DC may bring some development in the District, and he or she may want to re-name after his or her name. Memory stone should be erected and placed it honorably. Credit should be given and we should acknowledge whoever contribute or do for us. But naming after the person who contributed or helped to bring development is little strange, selfish and fame hunger only.
It is interesting that our Naga frontal organisation leaders are re-christening the meiteilon (Manipuri), British (English) and Indian (Hindi) name of the place into Naga indigenous’ name. For example: Tahamzam (Senapati) but simultaneously some people are naming the playground after their name. Why the UNC secretariat complex where the land was contributed by Kalinamai Taphou was not named as Kalinamai Taphou Secretariat Complex for UNC? Why the earlier play grounds which were constructed with the helped of the Indian army were not named after them? Is this naming a play ground after the name of the contributor’s is a new revolution of the modern educated societies who are hungry for fame or this a part of their mission to Indianised in the area? Why naming after an army officer when it was done under MCA?
The Ministers and MLAs in Senapati areas have not contributed much for the development of the people. The same to the frontal Naga organisation leaders have not done much for the people in the district. So, we should acknowledge and grateful to the concerned army officers who have posted in the areas and brought some developments for the public. However, naming the play ground or any project that comes under their department is seems to be too selfish and too much after their own fame. With the present trends of naming anything after the person who contributed or helped to do something, in the future there will be no name left to be christened again except re-christening.
By Sira Kharay
Polarisation of Naga political culture appears increasingly pandemic. The voice of dissents and dissensions gets louder and bolder. Public disenchantment, disaffection, frustration and outrage against the perceived closed and insular system, cronyism, nepotism, egotism, greed, corruption and injustice are already out in the open streets. The traditional authority of the NSCNs and in particular the (I-M) has been put to open challenge for the first time and with it the smaller dissident groups and factions get more vociferous to lay a claim to legitimacy. The emerging assertive Naga public is determined to recast its sense of loyalty by fundamentally reinventing the notion of legitimacy and power in terms of popular will of the people as the repository of the ultimate political authority.
Now the public asserts its right to democratic participation in the negotiating process of the Indo-Naga peace dialogue. The emerging transformation appears decisive and dislodging. For better, or for worst, the voice of dissents cannot be silenced in a free society. A strong nation can only be built on the edifice of free choice of opinion and constructive dialogue. But the devils work best at times of confusion and while the nervousness of the nationalist leadership is palpable for this obvious reason, the academia and the political observers wait and watch in despair.
What is intrusively disturbing amidst this social metamorphosis is the dysfunctional presence of a small coterie of schismatic dissidents who attempt to “banalize” Naga nationalism into a dull project of development and governance issue within the state of geographical Nagaland by vivisecting the imagination of Nagaland away from the common consciousness of the term “Naga” as a “people” with history and right to self-determination. The senseless repetition of the rhetoric of the terms “outsider” and “insider” within the narrow trivialisation of the term “Naga” as “fragmentable” concept which stems from the confusion of the personal with the political has done more harm than good. The danger with such regressive parochialism is that it tends to brutalize the term “Naga” by further deepening the perceived animus of tribal antagonism among the Nagas.
However, the gullible masses in times of resentment and frustration are likely to flock even to such vagrant voices that openly challenge the existing authority sans political wisdom. For instance, an innocent villager confessed, “Harassment at the hands of our national workers has become unbearable and we even savoured the idea of Manipur Government’s recent attempt to permanently post IRBs and Commandos at Ukhrul town. It would be a relief if the IRBs and Commandos could arrest and lock them all up in jail.” The point is the perceived excesses of the nationalist workers have exposed the erstwhile patriotic Naga into such recalcitrant social behaviour to the extent of disowning the term “Naga” itself.
Alongside this challenge is the legalistic dialectics of ACAUT in articulating “One Government, One Tax” within the vocabulary of Indian legalism rather than Naga revolutionary jargon. It is true that there should be “One Government, One Tax”, but the narratives of articulating the issue within the narrow framework of Indian notion of “legality” and “illegality” as an end in itself rather than means to an end has the irreversible danger of domesticating the international Indo-Naga issue into some redundant municipal dispute. However, for reasons of senseless self-gratification and indulgence for too long, the tax payers feel betrayed and disillusioned. Nevertheless, ACAUT in order to remain true to Naga national commitment, its emphasis should shift more towards the modalities of achieving “One Government, One Tax” rather than on the emotive confrontation of defining what constitutes “extortion”.
It is true that the evocative fighting spirit and heroic sacrifices of the past do not condone the present sense of nationalist lethargy, but it is equally true that this legacy alone is the whole inheritance of Naga nationhood and the same cannot be disavowed for the perceived default of one. The point is before the Naga society takes all the patterns of a Hobbesian existence, where bitter strife, denial and killings become the order of the day, each sober Naga stakeholder must recognise the limits of the other by now.
The idea of “villain” and “hero” in the discourse of politics is a mere social construct which in itself is flawed and problematic. The demeaning practice of political mudslinging has no place in a civilised political setup. Politics must be rediscovered as an art of mediating the perceived differences without the necessity of appropriating the notion of truth to oneself. The adversarial political culture of projecting the other as the “villain” must give way to a more progressive political behaviour of constructive social and political dialogues.
In tandem with it, there is urgency for the nationalist organisations to exercise certain creative political imaginations to innovatively respond to the changing demands and perceptions of the people before the remnants of their organisational legitimacy evaporate into thin air in the eyes of the weary public. The public must at same time appreciate that it would be unrealistic on their part to expect total physical reconciliation of all the NPGs given the history of bitter factionalism and suffice would it be for the day if they could arrive at a principle-based emotional reconciliation in letter and spirit with a managing committee to steer ahead the Naga nation as one in different bodies.
Contemporary Naga Nationalism is dominated by politics of factionalism and divorce of people (Nagas) and power (NPGs); which makes the independence dream even more dramatic, especially to an outsider (non-Naga) who are ready to confused the ever doubtful Nagas with more doubts in an attempt to shield the Nagas of their desires: and the result being, we fail to think out of the box and we fail to see ourselves standing in our own feet rather than depending on false charities showered to us by the adopted parents (India and Myanmar). I don’t deny that Naga Nationalism is an exhausted demand synonymously linked to Money-Money Bang-Bang: enough researches and surveys here and there are done to understand the path of this nationalism which turn bloody, instead of peace and prosperity; and the sudden awakening among the Nagas who started to question the power of gun and greed for money rather than trying to thwart the system that makes us helpless and dependent, which are the evil roots of blood money floating in the Naga society. Yes, helpless and dependent are the Nagas; because we the contemporary Nagas don’t want to help ourselves, we depend on NPGs to wage war with India and Myanmar to deliver Nagas to the promised Land- Naga Homeland/Nagas Lands/ Nagalim and our unwillingness to start a civil revolution for Independent Naga Homeland rather than depending on these (since 1947) NPGs’ guerilla warfare using gun and bloody negotiations which not only divide the Nagas and create intra-hostilities because they prefer ‘hard cash and power’ over ‘independence’ but has also exhausted Nagas of positivity. Because of total dependence on the NPGs to negotiate with India/Myanmar, Nagas are easy prey both to NPGs, India/Myanmar and unexpected ‘side show’ fear psychosis created by world’s capitalists political economy on the Nagas by diverting Nagas attention from Independence to Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest’.
They used to say if Nagas get independence how they will survive because there are no economically viable natural resources in Nagas Lands which can feed the Nagas; and this is one of the main point when India always scare the Naga leaders of Nagas future: without India’s economy Nagas won’t survive a year. But to me, Nagas Lands are rich in resources, resources which can make Nagas prosperous, unless greed overtook us. If there are no economically viable natural resources in Nagas Lands, why is the Govt. of India so adamant over ‘Oil exploration and drilling’ in Wokha, Tamenglong and Peren? Is it that India wants to extract all the oil resources from Nagas Lands when there is still time, and only when the oil is exhausted and oil wealth drained to India that India will think of giving Independence to Nagas? This speculation cannot be ignored considering the day to day statement made by Indians (since our primary school history books) that ‘British came to India, took all the wealth to Britain and gave Independence to India only after all the wealth was drain leaving India in poverty’: so India does not want to part with Nagas because Naga Hills is rich in oil.
The Govt. of Nagaland can be clubbed together as an agent of Govt. of India if it fails to protect Nagas resources and future development by simply obeying New Delhi’s flimsy development packages. Again, Nagas Lands is rich with hydro power, no wonder India is adamant over construction of Tipaimukh Dam (tri junction of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam) and Tamanthi Dam (Myanmar), both of them together will generate more than 2,500 MW power, but will the wealth generated from these power plants ever make the Nagas rich? Now, oil and hydro power are the assets of Nagas which can bring economic development to Nagas: so, how can we say that Nagas Lands are devoid of resources? Did India ever tell to Bhutan ‘your country is poor so merge with India and become rich’! If our nearby country like Bhutan can survive of its own by standing on their feet, why are we Nagas so worried if parting from Indian/Myanmar will makes us poorer. No doubt, the giants (India and Myanmar) are just scaring the Nagas that we will be poorer, in fact, they will be poorer.
Of course, we will be poorer which is the case with every newly independent countries but if we are wise and crafty enough, we can turn the poverty into prosperity: even Nagas dream model countries like Israel and South Korea are never born rich, they are made from scratch and little resources; in fact Nagas Lands has more natural resources than in Israel or South Korea, but the only thing we lack is ‘man power’, because we Nagas are ‘maybe’ too lazy to study, that is why we fail to make use of modern economic tricks. Of course I won’t deny Nagas are hard working and intelligent, but we don’t put much labour for better success that ‘now’, in fact, we tend to keep our books and pens aside once we reach our destination (pass exam or get job or retired). We are bad in economics that explains why most Naga Markets are very expensive and unaffordable: our bad economics is also reflected in the use to ‘gun’ to make money, rather than hard work. A good Naga leader will not think of extracting money from the Nagas, but rather think of how to protect the Natural resources of Nagas so that Nagas will benefit from it and proof to the world that ‘Nagas can do it’, but our good leaders are just like Tantri the Mantri, always hatching plots to make more money: I won’t be surprised if any Naga names appear in Swiss Bank Account holders lists for Black Money.
Considering the political scare that Nagas dream of Independence is impossible, there is nothing in this world that is not possible. Armenia and Moldova, countries much smaller than Nagas Lands declared independence from the USSR, the Super Power; Timor East, a country of about 14,000 Sq. Km (1/4th the size of Nagas Lands) declared independence from Indonesia after decades of fighting. Even Israel a small country of just about 20,000 Sq. Km fought single handedly four countries to safe guard its independence. This brings to the question, is guerrilla warfare enough for the Nagas? No, in fact Guerella warfare brought bad image to the Nagas, terming Naga Armies as Insurgents, Militants and Terrorists. Of course, Marxist type or Leninists type or Maoists type or Che Guevara type revolutions saved many countries, but we must not forget that those countries were already independent before the revolution. Maoist Revolution in China was possible because China was already an independent state, and Communism-Maoism only replaced the existing Chinese Govt,, so was the case in Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and Latin Americas. So, when NNC went to China for help, the Chinese only doctrine them with ‘how to over throw the govt. using violence’ rather than ‘what Nagas must do to gain independence’, because the Mao himself deny Tibetan Independence. Enough of external political ideologies in the Nagas, because none of them are helping us: it is time to develop our own Naga Political Ideology just like the English has their own political philosophy, the Germans their own philosophy: but it is danger for the Nagas to develop their own political ideology because it will be filled with ‘ism’ and ‘hatred’, because of our intra-xenophobism: we always aspire to become classy like the westerns, so it is high time for the Nagas to do away with ‘tribalism/barbarism’ and think like the westerns.
Tribalism is never going to save the Nagas, it is like caste system and purdah system hampering social and political development. Oh, coming back to the political dilemma, it is interesting to note in the Naga society how disunited the Nagas, the people, politicians and NPGs: Nagas as a whole are never united (so much hatred among us), Politicians are lined up to impress New Delhi and Naypyidaw and gain some favours while NPGs are never united but fully united when it comes to ‘tax’ issue, everyone wants their share. Concerning Independence, most Nagas shun away from this independence topic, we assume that the responsibility of Independence is for the NPGs, and only the NGPs should do the movements and revolutions. NPGs are claiming that they are fighting/negotiating for Nagas Independence, while the Nagas themselves are not even willing to stand up and shout ‘we want independence’, or are too scared to do so: let’s turn to Indian history, the Indians never said ‘oh, the responsibility of Independence is Gandhi and his friends, Bhagat Singh and co., and INA, so they will fight for our independence while we live normal life’; but no, the Indians actively participate in the movement: but, what about us? Do we participate? Just feeding the NPGs with money and grumbling does not account to participation, unless we also physically shout and demand: so that world might know that Nagas struggle for Independence is the Nagas demand, not Militants’ demand.
Yes, Independence is a must debatable topic: but I want to hear a Naga talking about independence sans NPG’s role. It is necessary for a civilian revolution, rather than Arms revolution and arms negotiation. I am not against NPGs, but just expressing an alternative movement from the peoples’ side because, Nagas Right to Self Determination should stem from the People, not from the NPGs; and the people should demand their rights, not used the NPGs as a medium: otherwise, where is the Right to Self Determination when they (NPGs) always take decision for us as per their whims. But to start an alternative movement sans NPGs, we Nagas need to develop our own political thoughts and economic principles, where unity, equality and prosperity, rather than tribalism prevails.
I wish to write to you with all due respect for what you represent and for what you are fighting for. I grew up in a place where you and your cadres are respected, loved and admired. We have always known your men being welcomed with the best roosters in the village and even the biggest pig depending on the number of cadres passing through the village. We were taught by the elders that you and your men are fighting for the freedom of our Naga nation. In our wild imagination as schoolchildren, we imagine you to be the equals of people like Gandhiji and we revered your name and your organization.
We were taught by the elders to use the term ‘akiliangmai’ which literally is translated as ‘our relatives’ in Lianglad. We played soldiers during our vacations and we named our outfit after the name of your group and mimicked the stories of the propaganda movies like ‘Ramcho Ramrin’, ‘Love in Nagaland’ etc. which were just a mime play to us because it was enacted in a non local dialect. Yet we love the movies and the characters in the movie because the heroes of the movie were supposed to be your men. As we grow up, we saw many of our fathers parting with their best pals with whom they had grown up together with.
Yet, we neither heard of them speaking ill of your ‘government’ nor your cadres. We never ever heard of anyone speaking up against your ideology not because of fear but because we share your dream of a free Nagalim and our gratefulness for your sacrifice for the cause of the Nagas. I remember an incident in way back in the ‘90s in which the Indian Arm Force bring all the people in my village and separately keep women, children and men for the whole day without food because their men were waylaid and they lost 5 soldiers just 3 km. away from my village.
No one in the village bear grudge against you even after that incident because the Indian soldiers are villains and your men, our heroes. There was a time when we almost live without salt because all connectivity to the outside world was cut off due to the ethnic clash in which you were involved. Yet we were happy to see our land being ‘freed’ even if we have to go without food. There were white flags in the front porch of every house in town to declare our support for you when you demanded ceasefire without territorial integrity and a week later a black flag replaced all the white flags because the demand was denied.
As time pass, in the last decade, we heard of new factions and outfits who split away from you but we called them greedy opportunists who are taking the name of the cause to meet their own vested interest of pursuing a place in the society. There are even some, who took the name of our tribe and start a revolutionary movement, a menace which we are all facing now and hoping that you will come out supreme. We believe in the Naga nation and are not ready to settle for anything less.
We remain loyal to you. No other outfit dared to set foot on our land and your men roam the streets like anyone of the aimless school dropout roaming the street whiling away the day. We have heard of media accusing your ‘government’ of illegal taxing and extortions. Yet, we do not look at you with the same accusing eyes of those people because it is your land and you the sons of the soil. There was an organization in Nagaland fighting against the taxation which was targeted at you equally with the rest of the groups. We do not make up such movement not because we are rich and could afford to provide everything that you ask for but because you are considered our protector, our would-be martyrs.
Over the years the student community had always rallied behind you and showed our support for the cause you are fighting for. When the top leaders came back from abroad, we were there singing the song ‘We shall overcome’ not because we love the song but because deep in our hearts we believe that we really shall overcome someday. When the public needs a voice to support your ‘government’, it is the student community who made a face and stand with you.
Let us not forget the recent Mao incident in which two young students one of whom was a widow’s only son being killed, not because of their foolishness but because they stood for you. We take pride that we have our leader who made the corrupt government tremble. Our mothers leave their homes and were in a refugee camp in another state for more than a week. We were not ashame though because you are our face. The infamous ‘Economic blockade’ of Manipur is a legacy of the student communities’ die hard support for you and the cause.
For all who you have been and what you stood for, our gratefulness and admiration will one day be with the dust of our bodies in our graves.
Let me also remind you that this support and admiration we have for you is so because we trust you and have faith that you will not betray us. We do not doubt that you will let us down. We have that childlike trust in you that you will protect our land and its integrity. On the contrary, there had been situations in the recent past which suggest the opposite. There had been instances wherein the public is squarely denied their basic right to pursue happiness. There had been instances in which locals were not allowed to use their resources. There had been murmurs about the cadres indulging in the very activity which your ‘government’ banned. The love and the admiration now seem to be evolving to fear.
The quietness may be the same but the reason for being quiet may not be the same anymore. Ukhrul is under siege by the Manipur Police commandos and the IRB commandos. Children and women living with fear in their own homes under their own roofs. We could not find reason blame the public. Tamenglong is a battlefield now.
Where does the discontentment come from?
And every Naga administered Facebook page is now engaging in a fierce verbal spat over an assault of a student in Maram center by the cadres of your ‘government’. Zeliangrong people and the Maramei are almost in a civil war. Thanks to the ‘national workers’ who attempted murder to deal with a menace of a drunken boy. Now he is in the hospital with broken limbs and jaws not to mention the internal organs being damaged by the thrashing. No statement from the people who did it heard yet. When it is some other group with no ideology who did this, we understand and forgive because of the low stature at which the public puts them. But when it is your men who did this, we feel betrayed, a spit on the face in return for being a loyal supporters and admirers of your ideology.
With a note of this few incidents, we cannot help but think if we are under suppression to get liberated from a nonexistent oppression? Is it relevant at this age to rule with muscle? Have we not seen how regimes were overthrown by the public in the recent years? Are we not entitled to a even a little gratitude for all our love and admiration we had for you? Are we not the people for whom you are fighting for? It is your ‘government’ because of the Nagas and not vice versa. Could we not do with a little modesty from the cadres when they are in town? We dread the idea of our leaders being overthrown and targeted because of the foolishness of some few trained-for-jungle boys.
I would like to make a sincere appeal to all our right thinking leaders and responsible martyrs to think twice and if that does not help, think hundred times over and show restrain and give space for mutual understanding if not respect, in your relationship with the people for whom you claim your allegiance.
PS: All other outfits may not take this letter as a mileage. The people understand when you are involved.