Matikhrü is a small Pochury village under Meluri sub-division, Phek District, Nagaland. In 1960, it was a village of about 15 houses only. The village is bordering with north Ukhrul District of Manipur, and close to Nagaland Myanmar (erstwhile Burma ) border. The village is about 61 km away from Phek District Headquarter and 172 km away east of the capital Kohima.
58 years ago, on the 14th of August 1960, the Naga Home Guards from the Sema region under the command of General Zuheto Sema, Eastern Command came and attacked an Indian Army camp called “Thuda Camp” of 14th Assam Rifles at Phor village. From a book titled “Strange Country” authored by Mr. Zhapuvisie Lhousa page- 230, 236 and another book “Nagaland and India” by Mr. Kaka D. Iralu pages-141, 142 we find this story. Before the attack all the five bridges leading into Meluri division were destroyed; thus, reinforcements from other areas were not possible. The Naga Home Guards had surrounded and over-powered the camp for thirteen days. Water supply was out off, rations and ammunitions in the camp were exhausted. Then, the Indian Air Force Dakota planes kept on coming dropping rations, arms and ammunitions to the Phor Assam Rifles post. Taking the opportunity the Naga Home Guards had seized a lot of arms and ammunitions including the dropped rations. In the tussle, three Indian Army personnel: 1 Lance Naik, 1 wireless operator and 1 soldier were killed. When they were just about to overrun the outpost, heavy reinforcements came in from the Ukhrul and Meluri, so the attackers were forced to leave. Meanwhile as the three Dakota planes continued droppings arms and ammunitions, Lieutenant Thanizhe Sema and his troops fired upon the aircraft on the August 26. All the three Dakota planes were shot. One Dakota flew towards Burma and crashed into the thick forest. Another could reach Jorhat again but with damages. The third Dakota plane made its slow descend and landed on the bank of Tizu river at Zathsü somewhere in the Meluri Village land area.
The Naga Home guards under the command of Col. Thorpa and Capt. Thokwüma went and captured the Dakota plane Pilot Flight Lieutenant Anand Singha and his associates numbering nine (9) in all. Their names and designations are as follows:
1. Flight Lieut. Anand Singha, Pilot (31 years).
2. Flying Officer, C.S. Misra (23).
3. Flying Officer, R.E. Raphel (24).
4. Sergeant. J.C. Chaudhury (Non-commision officer)
5. Lance Corporal, Kumar Pilai.
6. Sepoy Raga Mithun.
7. Sepoy Jaswan Singha
8. Sepoy Maheson, and
9. (illegible/not clear).
The captured Indian Air Force crew-members, despite such extreme provocation, they were given the best guard, protection and treatment by the Naga Home Guards and the Federal Government of Nagaland. No one was harmed, hurt, tortured, ill-treated or killed. Out of the nine crew captured, five members were soon released in September month itself and handed over to the nearest appointed Indian Army camps with full security protection, and four others were released on May 16, 1962. A.Z. Phizo gave a press release to the International Press in London on December 5, 1960 stating that “We have agreed to their release but according to a letter from one of them sent to me by his mother, the Indian Government for political reasons of its own is hindering their release”.
However, the aftermath of the attack on the 14th Assam Rifles’ Thuda Camp and the shooting down of the Dakota planes at Phor village by the Sema Naga Home Guards, the terrible repercussions from the Indian Armed Forces went on in a mad rampage burning all the neighboring villages, arresting, beating, torturing, and killing the innocent villagers in Meluri sub-division.
(1) Thewati village which was then comprised of about only 15/16 houses on the slope of a pine clad hill in the midst of a vast thick forest, though about 30 km away from Phor village, the village was pounded with heavy bombings by two (2) Indian Air-War jets mistaken it to be the Naga Home Guards’ camp for three days: on the August 27, 28 and 29. The village was completely destroyed to ashes beyond recognition.
(2) On the September 1, 1960, the Indian Army had killed the following six innocent village leaders of Phor as given below:
1. Mr. Yetachu, Gaonbura (G.B.),
2. Mr. Chüpücu, Dubashi (D.B),
3. Mr. Mawazu, Gaonbura (G.B.)
4. Mr. Turazu, Village Chief,
5. Mr. Türhücu, Gaonbura. (G.B.),
6. Mr. Yusücu, Pastor, Phor Baptist Church.
(3) On the September 2, 1960, two (2) innocent villagers slaughter ed in Moke village:
1. Mr. Nyupucu
2. Mr. Yethsecu.
(4) On the September 3, 1960, two innocent Village leaders of Yisi were killed:
1. Mr. Mawazu, Rüna Peyu,
2. Mr. Khrocu, Member.
(5) On the September 4, one innocent villager of Laruri village was buried alive:
1. Mr. Lingsang
(6) On the September 5, 1960, the Indian Armed soldiers went to Lephori village, arrested thirteen (13) villagers, tortured them and pouring boiling water upon their bodies after tying them together to a strong post. The torture of the innocent villagers and rapings of the women were many but went unrecorded.
(7) Matikhrü Massacre :
As stated above, Matikhrü was, in those days, a small village of about only 15 houses and far away from Phor village. The landscapes of this region are so crooked and bad as such, as deep gorges and deep and steep cliffs were chiseled and cut by very strong and down swift water currents of big rivers like Tizu, Thecü, Zünki, Arachu etc. that there is no road connectivity till today in between Matikhrü and Phor villages – a distance of more than 60 km.
To travel by road from Matikhrü to Phor: one has to go round from Matikhrü turn back to Meluri, from Meluri to Akheqwo, from Akheqwo to Waziho, and from Waziho to Phor – a distance which is more than 100 km. To travel by jungle footpath from Matikhrü to Phor or Phor to Matikhrü, one-way journey alone covers more than 60 km through the remote and dangerous jungle path.
In 1960’s, Matikhrü villagers were only mere and ignorant cultivators, they would’nt know even what was going on at Phor Village. As such, there is no logical conclusion that Matikhrü village had to be massacred because of the fighting that took place at Phor.
The Naga Home Guards who came and attacked “Thuda camp” at Phor were the Semas Naga Home Guards commanded by the Sema Generals, not by the Pochury Naga Home Guards, or by the local innocent villagers. It is a very serious case even in between the Semas and the Pochuries on the question of jurisdiction and its violation. Why should the Semas came and attack an Army camp in Pochury region? One could well imagine, as usual with the stay of insurgents anywhere, how much these thinly populated and poor Pochuries would be suffering in the hands of these insurgents’ heavy operations even for ration alone? Yes, surely the Indian Army had to probe the case, thorough investigation should be conducted and proper action had to be taken in favour of the Indian Army, but not forgetting for the defence, security and safety of the innocent villages and its peoples. But the Indian highest military logic was found shocking- an unleash of brutality which clearly reveals the reason in every Indian soldier’s mind, he vividly knows, “NAGAS ARE NOT INDIANS”.
On the 6th September 1960, the terrible revenge fell upon a small peaceful village called Matikhrü which still haunts the people till today. On that fateful day, early in the morning, the Indian Armed Forces from different outposts like Kenjang, Yesi, Meluri, Phek, Sakhabama Army Brigade Headquarters and Kohima came to Matikhrü Village. The strength of the Indian Army was one Brigade under the command of Lieutenant General Thorat, Ist G.O.C., Eastern Command, a combined force of the 16th Sikh and Gorkha Regiments. The then Deputy Commissioner of Kohima, Mr. Hazarika was also present on the spot.
The Indian Armed Forces had completely surrounded the village in three lines cordon of heavily armed soldiers at the break of dawn, and arrested the whole village population, forcing everybody out into the village square and carried out a systematic torture on the men-folks. They went on hitting the villagers with their gun-butts, kicking them with boots, beating and torturing them mercilessly questioning and demanding the ignorant and innocent villagers to tell where were the undergrounds hiding, and where were their guns and ammunitions kept? Wooden logs were rolled on their bodies, boiling water poured on them. The men-folks were tortured for the whole day from 4:00 A.M. to 12:00 Noon. By the evening, all the women and children were threatened and ordered to leave the village immediately. All the men-folks were then dragged inside Mr. Thah, the village Chief’s house, and were made them to sit down on the floor in row like lambs to be slaughtered. They were all butchered and chopped off to death except one who could forcibly run to escape to tell the tale to the livings.
The nine persons tortured and killed on that day were:
Sl. Name Relation Age
1. Mr. Thah Village Chief 60 years
2. Mr. Mezitso F/o Rev Zhihuotho (alive) 35 years
3. Mr. Pongoi F/o Kekhwezülo 33 years
4. Mr. Pongolo F/o Rosiepa 55 years
5. Mr. Eyechü F/o Resipa 60 years
6. Mr. Kezükhwelo S/o Eyechü 35 years
7. Mr. Zasituo Pastor, S/o Lashupa 55 years
8. Mr. Thitu H/o Rhütarüh 35 years
9. Mr. Kekhwezü F/o Kezüngololu 33 years
The merciless Indian soldiers did not even allow the dead-bodies to be buried by their loved ones as per their custom. Instead, all the dead-bodies were dumped inside the Chief’s house, and the house was set on fire. And the whole village, and the granaries were burnt to ashes.
In the physical presence and eye-witnesses of a Lieutenant General who was the G.O.C. and a Deputy Commissioner, could such a crime of horror be permitted upon the defenceless, ignorant and completely innocent villagers? It reveals no justice. It loudly shouts on the top of the roof, the standard of judgement of the highest Indian military and civil authorities which was comparatively found far below the standard of their ever underrated Naga Army in the eye of the world.
To this ugliest horror in human history committed by the Indian Army on the helpless and innocents as the Indian Army’s valour on the 6th September 1960, this day and date, since 1993, has been observed as “BLACK DAY” by the Pochury Students’ Union joined by the Chakhesangs and the Nagas as a whole to this day.
“REVENGE IS MINE”, says the Sovereign Almighty God :
1. In the evening of that same day, the 6th Sept. 1960, after committing all those horrors, all the Armed Forces had dispersed and went to their own respective outposts. The two combined troops of Phek Village outpost under the command of a Major and of Sakhabama Brigade Headquarters, 8th Mountain Division under the command of a Captain together they came to Phek Village outpost for dropping the Major and his jawans.
After dropping the Major and his jawans, the Captain and his platoons were returning towards Sakhabama in a three-ton Nissan Doss. As the vehicle was on the run, the jawans were shouting and yelling aloud war-cries and victories on the vehicle. While running from Phek village outpost to Losami village land area, at a location about 4/5 km distance from Phek Village, at a very steep cliff landscape called “NECHÜTSHEBOU”, the Nissan Doss which was filled with the soldiers fell down into the deep gorge of “Süthada” stream-bed of about 600/700 ft. dept below.
The exact number of the Army personnel died in the accident was unknown. However, it was clear that one complete platoon of about ten or more including the Captain died in the accident. The one who survived to tell the tale gave report that “a pillar like object of light with a very strong and powerful light-beam suddenly stood right in the middle of the road which had completely blinded them all and turned the vehicle into the cliff.”
2. Just a few days later, the Major of Phek Village outpost who was involved in the Matikhrü Village massacre was travelling with his wife and children from Phek outpost towards Sakhabama Brigade Headquarters and Kohima. While driving across at that very same spot of “Nechütshebou”, the vehicle, an Army-jeep which was carrying the Major, his wife and children- all fell down at that same point into that very hole down to the deep “Süthada river-bottom” again.
One soldier, a Gorkha/Nepali, who was attached to Phek Village outpost, and who was in the Major’s vehicle that met accident, had survived to tell the story. But as one of his thigh bones was broken, he went on leaping on his toes as long as he lived. He also gave the same report about the second accident that “an object like a pillar of light with a very strong and powerful light beam suddenly appeared and stood in the middle of the road which completely blinded them all and the vehicle turned and fell into the steep cliff.”
No part or scrap of the two fallen vehicles at Süthada river bottom could be taken or pulled up because as the gorge is too deep, steep and too far. The bodies of the two vehicles had been lying there at the bottom of the river-bed for decades and many years as a living witness to the accidents truly taken place, and for the people to see.
These are unbelievable true stories.
The history will never be erased.
This story has been talked and told for almost six decades now in shocks and horrors.
The story will be told for a thousand years.
Zapra Chakhesang (On e-mail)
* Disclaimer. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and participants on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Nagaland Page.