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Flashback 1958: When Jamir said Nagas should first kill “the ape and the tiger in us”

S C Jamir

Veteran leader recalls encounter with BK Nehru, mild tiff with Guv Burney

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 29: Politics was something that fascinated veteran leader Dr SC Jamir and according to him, his political journey “was a call of duty for me to serve the people”.
“After completion of my study, I was appointed as Circle Officer in 1958 and posted at Pokobhoto, Kohima district, but I declined to join the Government service because my possession and commitment was to join politics”, says Jamir in a small booklet published recently.
jamir booklet

The booklet titled Don’t Mind, I am still Growing – A few memorable episodes in my political pilgrimage was released on October 17, 2023, his birthday at Dimapur in presence of his children and grand children.
Born 1931, Jamir has served as Chief Minister in different tenures and for the first time was in power for 10 years continuously between 1993 and 2003. “Looking back, life has given me more than one can ask for”, says Jamir in the Preface.
He also wonders in his typical statesmanship style: “Who am I at the end of the day? A native Ao Naga, a trained lawyer, a practicing Naga politician and also an individual often called a protagonist of Indian nationalism?”
The booklet can be a collector’s delight as it throws light on certain critical and vital episodes related to the emergence and growth of Nagaland State. The former Chief Minister shares his own speech (welcome address) delivered at the end Naga People’s Convention on May 21, 1958.
In fact, Jamir was Chairman of the Reception Committee for the meet. Among other things, in his address, Jamir had said, “We should first kill the Ape and the Tiger in us. The ape stands for primitiveness while tiger stands for ferocity. We should kill one more animal, the Donkey in us. It has been responsible for hardening our views freezing our postures and rendering our attitudes rigid.”
“By killing the donkey we shall kill the fanatic attitude and dogmatism which is responsible for much of the current confusion in our State and the world”, he had said. (1958)
Jamir recalls two interesting episodes of his encounters with two Governors SMH Burney and BK Nehru.
On BK Nehru, Dr Jamir says the then Governor was furious after the UDF Government, headed by Vizol, implemented the election manifesto and released “political prisoners”.
“There was sharp reaction from the Army…”.
Chief Minister Vizol was summoned to Shillong as BK Nehru was also holding the charge of
Assam and Governor then was stationed at Shillong.
“Vizol authorized me (then Deputy CM) and Vamuzo to proceed to Shillong on his behalf… Before we could start saying anything, he (BK Nehru) roared and scolded us for the release of political prisoners without his permission”.
“Without showing any anger, I simply replied to him politely that as a political party in a democracy, implementation of its manifesto does not violate the Constitution nor any law of the land…,” Jamir recalls adding,
“As an experienced former ICS officer, BK Nehru just told us that he should have been consulted before the issuance of the said order.”
Jamir’s mild differences with SMH Burney in 1986 related to the unfortunate NSF and Naga Mothers’ Association protest against the Jamir Government’s decision to implement IPS norms in the State.
“With a view to improving and updating the police organization, the Cabinet under me decided to introduce IPS in the State… To my utter surprise some of the senior police officers were totally against it”.
Then he talks about the ‘protest’ on the opening day of the Budget session. In fact the protesters had prevented the then Governor Burney mid-way while he was proceeding to the Assembly to address the session.
A furious Burney had angrily asked Jamir (Chief Minister) to dismiss DIG RS Jamir, who was then in charge of the Governor’s security. “After two days, I went to the Governor with a file pertaining to RS Jamir… (and told him) that it would be better to just suspend RS Jamir and start a formal probe. By that time, the Governor was in a relaxed mood and he readily agreed to my suggestion.”
Against this backdrop, Dr Jamir shares a Chinese proverb: “When you are angry do not take important decisions and when you are happy, do not promise too many things”. In his characteristic style, Jamir adds: “This is a good lesson to all those who are in positions of authority.”