My dear beloved Nagas,
Greetings to you all in the name of our Almighty God. It is a great privilege and an honour to address you all on this historic day, on the momentous occasion of the Naga Plebiscite Day.
It was on this day in 1951, the Nagas under the banner of the Naga National Council made a solemn and irrevocable vow and symbolically declared to the world, the desire and aspiration to live as a free and sovereign nation which is popularly known in Naga history as the Plebiscite of 16th May 1951. A remarkable feature of the Plebiscite was the overwhelming 99.9% voting in favour of Naga Independence which stands as a testimony of the unity of the Nagas and at the same time serves to express our continued affirmation of both the historic Memorandum to the Simon Commission of 1929 and the declaration of Naga Independence of 14th August, 1947.
The basis of the Naga Political stand fundamentally lies in the Naga Plebiscite of 1951, the reason being – it expresses the Naga aspiration in the clearest term. There has been Indian rhetoric time and again that only a section of misguided Nagas are fighting for freedom. Contrary to this, the plebiscite has clearly shown that the Naga people are aware of their rights and want to claim their rights. It was a political statement and declaration of our aspiration and that the Naga National Movement is a peoples’ movement for liberation.
The Plebiscite was necessitated in the first place due to the nature and failure of Nagas’ relationship with India. Our ancestors were honorable people and their words used to be their law. It is shameful and disgraceful to dishonor their own words. The British recognized this custom and treated the Nagas as honorable people. Despite several conflicts and agreements between the two, no written document was necessitated. And so we respected each other for what each was. But when the Indian leaders made the first agreement with the Nagas, they neither honored our customs nor their promises. We had to make a written agreement – the 9 point agreement (Hydari agreement). Even after getting written assurance from the representatives of the Government of India, a letter signed by Bordoloi and Hydari themselves, the agreement never saw the light of day. Moreover, successive Indian leaders failed to uphold even the promises made to the Nagas by their most venerated leaders like Gandhi and Rajagopalachari. These were extremely valuable lessons for the Nagas.
It made us to wonder what we are up against, a people whose honor is questionable.
In short, the Naga experiences of betrayal and treachery by the Indian leaders was educative. The NNC had to recourse to extreme measures and precaution. We had to mobilize ourselves for a political action, to empower ourselves. This realization necessitated the plebiscite. And in the context of the Plebiscite, it was more than a declaration. It was an oath. Some gave their thump impression with blood. This was to show their utmost seriousness, that it is a matter of life and death. It may be recalled that oath is the final judgment in our traditional context.
The occasion is an opportunity for our people to ponder on our foundational and fundamental beliefs, the legitimate right of the Nagas to choose our own destiny. We remain proud and continue to live with dignity because on this day, Seventy years ago, the citizens of Nagaland, from the mountain tops to the valleys, courageously registered themselves to live as a free and independent nation.
Today, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the entire world to a state of anxiety and panic. Unfortunately, it has also made the atmosphere not conducive to celebrate this historic occasion in a grand and befitting manner. However, as we commemorate and celebrate the Plebiscite Day, I appeal to our people to pray for protection from the disease and for our leaders and the Naga Cause. I pray that the Almighty God will protect us all and that we may emerge stronger, wiser, more united, more vigorous and with more enthusiasm. And may the Almighty God who guided and gave courage to our pioneers and our people in the past continue to guide us and instil the same patriotic spirit in each one of us.
Forwarded by: Ministry of Rali Wali Affairs,
Federal Government of Nagaland
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