Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

The Naga struggle and then quest for peace has been chequered all along

Naga Samaj, NNC, NPC and SC Jamir in The Extended Naga Imbroglio

Naga Samaj was living in Naga Hills and its surrounding areas including today’s Myanmar (Burma). Dimapur was in Golaghat sub-Division of Sibsagar District of Assam. In 1918, Dimapur was leased to then Naga Hills district of Assam by then erstwhile Assam Province of British India for 30 years for construction of Railway Lines. In 1963, it was again leased to now state of Nagaland for 99 years. Tuensang (including Mon) was in NEFA (North East Frontier Agency). The Naga Hills – Tuensang Area Act, 1957 provided for the formation of the Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA) of Assam as an administrative unit comprising Naga Hills and Tuensang Frontier Division of NEFA. NHTA was administered by Governor of Assam under the control of Ministry of External Affairs. There were only three districts in NHTA  – Kohima, Mokokchung and Tuensang . As a result of 16 point agreement between NPC and Delhi, NHTA became 16th full-fledged state of Nagaland on 1st December 1963. The name Nagaland sounds something foreign to Bharatvarsh and closer to foreign countries like England, Scotland, Switzerland, Netherland and Thailand etc. It has secessionist tune. It should have been Naga Bhumi or Naga Pradesh which is of Bharatiya origin.

Formation of Naga National Council

Charles Pawsey, the DC of Kohima changed the nomenclature of Naga Hills District Tribal Council (NHDTC) into Naga National Council (NNC) at Wokha on 2nd February 1946 and T. Aliba Imti became its first president. Theyichuthie Sakhrie (a graduate son of a pastor of Khonoma) became its founder secretary. A.Z. Phizo (academically under matric) of same village Khonoma became its third president in November 1949 after defeating Vizar Angami of Zakhama by manipulating  a margin of one vote. On 16 May 1951, Phizo organized plebiscite and voting boxes were kept at Kohima and Mokokchung  guarded by NNC cadres. 6000 (six thousand) people casted their votes. The population of Naga Hills in 1951 census  was 205,950 but Phizo declared that 99.9 percent Nagas voted for separation of Naga Hills. There was no Nagaland during those days, it was NHTA. In 1955, General Secretary T. Sakhrie, office bearers JB Jasokie, Sillie and Imkongmeren broke off from Phizo at a meeting in Khonoma and formed NNC (Reformation). T. Sakhrie said, “The separation is not feasible and it is impossible. Let us remain in India with more constitutional safeguards.” Phizo got Sakhrie murdered on 18 January 1956 after torturing him for two days in nearby jungle. On 17 July 1956, 48 Chakhesang youths of Thuvepisumi village were kidnapped by NNC under the command of Zashei Huire, taken 9 km away to K. Bawe, their heads were chopped off in one go and Thuvepisumi was burnt down for refusing to support NNC’s secessionist demand and its conversion crusade. The Angami villages and Chakhesang  villages accompanied with Aos, Zeliangrongs under leadership of Rani Gaidinliu and other Naga communities revolted against Phizo . To save his life from the fury of Nagas, Phizo escaped to East Pakistan in December 1956 and landed into London under the patronage of Rev. Michael Scott – a British missionary. Phizo was burning Nagaland from London issuing death warrants to assassinate NPC leaders. Muivah was here to execute that warrants. Phizo’s dead body was brought over to Dimapur from London in a chartered plane and from Dimapur to Kohima in a cavalcade of over a 100 vehicles in 1990.

Th. Muivah, a Tangkhul from Somdal village in Ukhrul distt. of Manipur, joined NNC in 1964 and became its secretary in 1965. The Ceasefire Agreement was signed on September 6, 1964. Indira Gandhi held six rounds of talks and told NNC, “Ask anything less sovereignty.” But Th. Muivah betrayed the dialogue. The Ceasefire was abrogated in 1967. The army chased the Muivah’s miltants thereafter.

The leaders like Dr. Imkongliba Ao, Dr. Hokishe Sema. Dr. SC Jamir, P. Shilu Ao, Chief Minister TN Angami and a group of sensible leaders from Nagaland advised the Muivah’s ‘gun men’ to come to senses and understand the furious Indira if they want to save their lives. The liberal group of NNC angry on Muivah for killing T. Sakhrie and 48 Chakhesang youths of Thuvepisumi village, for trying to kill Rani Gaidinliu  and targeting the liberal leaders like JB Jasokie, Sillie and Imkongmeren etc., were spying for security forces against Muivah’s gun men. Hundreds of hard-core militants were killed, over 2000 surrendered. In 1972, NNC was banned. The extensive flush-out operation under Joint – Command guided by Commissioner SC Dev was started by army. NNC was almost finished.

In 1975, Shillong Accord was signed between Governor LP Singh and top-ranking hard-core NNC leaders including none less than Kevi Yallie – Phizo’s soul brother. It was agreed to find the solution under the constitution of Bharatvarsh. Muivah betrayed again. He disagreed with Shillong Accord 1975, defected from NNC and formed National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on the soil of China in 1980 with Maoism as its political philosophy. Prior to that, he was shouting “hallelujah” and “Nagaland for Christ”. Now, he became sworn enemy of Church. Communist Muivah declared, “ Religion is a poisonous pill” and “Nagaland for Communism”. In Mon and Tuensang districts, nearly 300 churches were burnt down and over 100 Naga reverends were killed in ninties. In armed conflict between NNC and NSCN, hundreds of innocent people, mostly Nagas, were assassinated. Muivah placed his Tangkhul confidants at all the key posts in NSCN and its armed wing. Anybody raising his voice against such nepotism was gruesomely murdered. Non-Tangkhuls were his first target. For seven times, Muivah attempted on the life of Dr. Hokishe Sema. Padma Bhushan Dr. SC Jamir was attacked four times by Muivah’s men. Dr. Imkongliba was fired upon in broad daylight at Mokokchung on August 20, 1961 who died on August 22,1961. Other NPC leaders went hiding to save their lives. The list of martyred men is quite long. SS Khaplang defected from parent body and formed NSCN(K) in 1988. The reason is obvious – the dictatorship of Muivah and Tangkhul domination.

Because of this mad murder and selective killings, there was a simmering anger against whole of the Tangkhul community. During the year 2000, a quit notice was served to all the Tangkhuls, many Tangkhuls were done away with, many ran away and others remained indoor for months. On April 22, 2007, Wungram Tangkhul village , 3 km from Dimapur in Purana Bazar,  was surrounded by an angry mob of 5000 Sumi people,  28 houses of Tangkhul leaders were burnt, their properties worth crores were destroyed. The tension ran amok.  Same Muivah has now again started parroting “hallelujah”, “praise the Lord” and “Nagaland for Christ”. He has retreated from Communism to Christianity.  It may be recalled that 14 Meiteis were killed in police firing on June 18, 2001 when a furious mob of 50,000 Meiteis landed in Imphal city resisting the extension of Ceasefire Agreement in Naga dominated districts of Manipur which measured two third of whole of the state. Muivah was arrested in Bangkok by Thai police in quick succession, first on 19 January 2000 on arrival from Karachi for holding a fake visa in the name of Muslimuddin and again on January 29, 2000 for trying to flee the country. He was put in a jail at Hat Yai in Thailand. He was released from jail after nine  months in September 2000 when  Delhi intervened to facilitate the on-going dialogue. Muivah had houses in Manila as well.  He possessed two false passports, one South Korean and the other Singaporean where NSCN(IM) had set up several front companies engaged in business, real estate, toy manufacturing and tour guides etc. investing several hundred crores. The NSCN(IM) leaders lived a royal life in Thailand as their gunmen rough it out in Nagaland. Bangkok remained a haven for Muivah and his lieutenants on the run from the Bharatiya Government. Dr. S C Jamir was ruling at that time in Nagaland as Chief Minister.

Naga Peoples Convention (NPC)

During 1845-79, brave Angami warriors of Khonoma, Mezoma and Jotsoma fought against British for freedom of Bharatvarsh. During second world war in 1944, the Chakhesang  youths of Ruzazho, Chesezu, Chakabama and Angami youths including AZ Phizo of Khonoma, Mezoma, Jotsoma, Kohima, Kigwema and  Viswema helped Indian National Army (INA) of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to defeat British occupational forces. The 48 Chakhesang  youths of Thuvepisumi village sacrificed their lives on 17 July 1956 at K. Bawe  for protecting sovereignty of Bharatvarsh over Nagaland. Padma Bhushan Rani Gaidinliu and Haipou Jadonang , both from Zeliangrong Naga community, fought against British invasion on our country. A football wizard  of international fame and a reputed doctor from Ao community, Dr. Tali Ao played for Bharatvarsh in London Olympics in 1948. Known as ‘Bare Foot Baller’ he was Captain of the Bharatiya team.

In the same lineage, Naga People’s Convention (NPC) was formed in August 1957 to carve out a state out of Naga Hills district of Assam and Tuensang Division of NEFA. NPC was successful in their mission and the state of Nagaland was a reality on 1st December 1963. The creation of Nagaland as the 16th state of the country overshadowed the ‘myth of sovereignty’ spread over by Muivah’s men in the then uneducated  Naga masses living in far-flung areas at the peak of mountains unaware of outside world. For this achievement, most refined genius person and founder President of NPC Dr. Imkongliba Ao has to sacrifice his life. He was shot dead by NNC extremists on August 20, 1961 at Mokokchung.

Padma Bhushan Dr. S. Chubatoshi Jamir

A law graduate from Allahabad University in 1958 and a son of Ungma village of Nagaland, Dr. Senayangba Chubatoshi Jamir  had a rich experience as Union Ministers in the Cabinets of Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. He was Parliamentary Secretary to Jawaharlal Nehru and also a member of Bharatiya delegation in UNO for several consecutive years before he returned to state politics of insurgency-ridden Nagaland in 1971. He could enjoy the pleasures of worldly life in Delhi even till today because he commanded that ability and capacity but leaving behind those comforts in Delhi he returned to Kohima to serve his Naga people who were being crushed primarily by Phizo’s NNC and  then by Muivah’s NSCNs. Both were cruel to their own Naga community. Both were visionless and playing in the hands of foreign forces. Because of strategic location of Nagaland, both enemy countries – America (a Christian country) and China (a Communist country) were helping Phizo and Muivah to create a buffer state or Crown Colony to establish their military bases.

 Dr. S C Jamir understood this international conspiracy and entered in Kohima to free and save Nagas from this international anti-Bharatiya nexus. He worked hard to change the perception that Nagas were never Bharatiya. Dr. Jamir dared Phizo and Muivah. He exposed the myth of sovereignty. He told the people that Nagas were an integral part of Bharatiya Samaj and Nagaland was an inseparable part of Bharatvarsh. Dr. Jamir was only first among equals, the polar star among the stars of universe. T. Sakhrie, Dr. Imkongliba Ao, John Bosco Jasoki, Dr. Hokishe Sema and many more had advocated this history. To know more, read the books written by Dr. Hokishe Sema – The Emergence of Nagaland, by Dr. SC Jamir – i. Bedrock of Naga Society (June 2000), ii. Speaking From Experience (July 2001), iii. Reminiscences Of Correspondences  With A. Z. Phizo (March 1998) iv. A Nagas Quest For Fulfilment (2017); by S.C. Dev – The Untold Story Of Nagaland and by Dr. M. AramPeace in Nagaland (1974).

Statehood – Bedrock of Naga Society

As a result of 16 – Point Agreement, the State of Nagaland came into being on 1st December 1963. The statehood gave the Nagas a sense of unity, identity and political entity for the very first time. Tuensang and Mon areas were merged with the new State.

Present Position

In 1963, the population of state stood at 3.69 lakh out of whom barely 18% or 66 thousands were literate. There was not a single college in whole of the State. Nagaland was at the bottom in all respects in comparison to other states. Today, it has become a flourishing State but still at the bottom in comparison to other states.

While speaking as guest speaker on the occasion of National Press Day organized by Dimapur Press Club on 16 November 2021, Dr. Jamir said, “Nagaland is the part and parcel of India. Our system has to be regulated according to the Constitution of India.” He says, “Neither the Framework Agreement  3 August 2015 of NSCN (IM) nor the Agreed Position 17 November 2017 of NNPG made any mention of sovereignty or integration which indicated that the leaders of NSCN(IM) and NNPG recognized and realized the contemporary political situation in the country.”

Taking a dig at the VIP culture in Nagaland, Dr. Jamir commented that Nagaland was a land of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Commanders-in-Chief etc.

He made a strong appeal to Nagas to wake up, see the reality and march hand in hand with people of rest of Bharatvarsh and make Nagaland a model state.

“We are already a part of Constitution of India due to the 16 – Point Agreement and Delhi is prepared to hold further negotiations to uplift Nagas further.”– said Dr. Jamir while addressing the Press Meet.

On his vision for Nagaland Dr. Jamir held the belief that Nagas were living in a confused world. “Though we speak about advancement in science and technology, Nagas are too much obsessed with the past. God had given us opportunities but because of our negative approach to everything we are not able to grab it. Naga negativism should pave its way for positivity.”

Let us hope that this negativism will disappear from Muivah’s mind and sign the final agreement for permanent peace and rapid development in Nagaland and surrounding Naga dominant areas.    

Also Read