Friday, May 31, 2024
Your Page

The formation of Naga Peoples’ Convention and the signing of 16-Point Agreement in 1960

In the recent years, many people have written for and against the 1960, 16-Point Agreement between the Naga Peoples’ Convention and the Government. Therefore, to those people who do not know the circumstances leading to the formation of the Naga Peoples’ Convention and the signing of the Sixteenth Points Agreement, in brief I am issuing this statement.
Prior to the formation of the Naga Hills – Tuensang Area (NHTA), the Naga Hills was a district of Assam under a Deputy Commissioner at Kohima and a Sub-Divisional Officer at Mokokchung. The present Eastern Nagaland (ENPO) area was in erstwhile Tuensang Frontier Division under North East Frontier Agency(NEFA).
In the months of June and July, 1956, disturbances erupted on a large scale and the interior parts of the Naga Hills witnessed large scale killings of mostly teachers and Gaonburas (G.Bs) by the Underground as they were suspected of loyalty to the Government. There were also grouping of villages, rapings, torturings, killings and burning of villages by the security forces. Therefore, seeing the sufferings of the people, when the situation improved in the month of April, 1957, at the initiatives of concerned Naga leaders, such as, Mr.I.Sashimeren Aier and others, a preliminary meeting with neighboring and available tribes representatives a meeting was held at Western House at Kohima on the 27th of July, 1957, where representatives from Angami, Ao, Rengma, Lotha, Sema, Konyak and Zeliang tribes attended. At the meeting, the following resolutions were passed, “Whereas the present situation in Naga Country demands a change in the interest of all concerned, and whereas, it is essential to establish complete mutual understanding and unanimity amongst the Naga people as a whole, for that purpose we, the signatories below, at the request of the Naga public hereby issue this appeal, notice to all Nagas for the general meeting to be held at Kohima on and from the 22nd August, 1957.
In the meeting some concrete suggestions for a political settlement for the long drawn Naga problem through peaceful negotiation with the Government of India will be discussed. Hence, all the Naga tribes are earnestly requested to choose their own representatives and send them to this conference to represent the views of their tribe with their respective resolutions in the matter of settling the Naga problem. Meanwhile the Government is requested to provide facilities for the free movement of the people concerned and their representatives and ensure safe passage for them.”
On the 22nd August, 1957, the Naga Peoples’ Convention was held and the name ‘Naga Peoples’ Convention’ was coined. Dr.Imkongliba Ao was elected the President of the Convention and Shri.J.B.Jasokie was elected as Secretary. There point by point discussion and the main discussion centered round the first resolution where it resolved that the only answer to the Naga problem was a satisfactory political settlement, but the words ‘within Indian Union’ was not added to it. Some members were against this, therefore, this was put to vote and an additional resolution was passed clarifying the first resolution to say that in view of the message of the Governor of Assam conveyed to the President of the Convention, the following clarification had been made in order to avoid any possible misinterpretation and as such the delegates were empowered to say that the ‘satisfactory political settlement’ mentioned in the first resolution meant a satisfactory political settlement within Indian Union. Another resolution was passed which said, “If the Government expresses inability to take up the question of re-transfer of reserve forests immediately, the delegates are empowered to agree to the immediate constitution of a separate administration unit under the Central Government comprising the Naga Hills District of Assam and the Tuensang Frontier Division of NEFA without prejudice to our claim for the forests which will be again agitated at the time of entering into negotiation for a political settlement”. This supplementary resolution was passed in view of the extreme urgency of a change in the administrative set up.
On the 25th September, 1957, the delegates met the Prime Minister, who in turn accepted the proposal on behalf of the Government of India. The delegates had also requested the Prime Minister that amnesty should be declared and the practices of grouping all the Naga Villages should be stopped. The Prime Minister agreed to accept the request for amnesty in respect of past offences committed but it would not apply to offences committed thereafter. It would also not include offences committed against another tribe. Though the principles of de-grouping of Villages were accepted, it would take place only when circumstances improved. The delegates met the Prime Minister again on 26th September, 1957 and DR.Imkongliba Ao, impressed on the Prime Minister that separate administrative unit was only an interim measure.
On the 23rd October, 1957, a Select Committee of the Naga Peoples’ Convention met at Mokokchung to hear the report on the discussion with the Prime Minister by the Naga Delegation returning from New Delhi. Having gone through the report, the following resolutions were passed. “The Selection Committee expressed deep appreciation of the Prime Minister’s action in conceding to the resolutions of the Naga Peoples’ Convention and also setting up a new administrative unit as essentially an interim measure”. But the Selection Committee desired to make it clear that the interim measure should be such that in no way it closes the door for further political negotiation.
On the 1st December, 1957, a separate administrative unit was formed combining the Naga Hills District and the Tuensang Frontier Division of NEFA. In short, it was called – Naga Hills – Tuensang Area (NHTA).
The second sitting of the Naga Peoples’ Convention at Ungma took place from the 21st to 23rd May, 1958. In this Convention, one Vice-President and one Joint Secretary were elected and they were Mr.Vizol and Mr.S.C.Jamir respectively. In this meeting Liaison Committee was appointed to explore possibility of agreed solutions of the Naga problem with the Underground and they were to place their findings before the Select Committee within three months. The members of the Liaison Committee were Dr.Imkongliba Ao, Mr.A.Kevichusa, Mr.Vizol, Mr.Tekasosang, Mr.Khelhoshe, Mr.Sangba, Mr.Etssorhomo Lotha and Mr.Lakhimong.
The Liaison Committee took a long time in submitting their report resulting in some members of the Select Committee getting impatient. Eventually, on the 11th December, 1958, the Liaison Committee reported their failure. In the report they had mentioned that they were hoping for a general meeting of the Naga people but that did not materialize. They also mentioned that the Undergrounds were prepared for negotiations on the issue of Naga independence, but the Government of India was not prepared to have negotiations on the issue of independence.
The Select Committee at its meeting at Kohima on the 11th December, 1958, discussed the report submitted by the Liaison Committee and reviewed the situation. The Select Committee after thorough deliberation on the situation in the country, and in the light of the report of various tribes, resolved to appoint a Drafting Committee to prepare a draft for the political Settlement within the purview of the first Naga Peoples’ Convention at Kohima. The Committee were to submit the draft by 1st March, 1959.
The following were the members of the Drafting Committee:-
1. Angami = i) Mr.J.B.Jasokie, ii) Mr.Zopianga,
2. Chakhesang = i) Mr.Goyiepra Kenye, ii) Mr.Neisatu
3. Zeliang and Kuki = i) Mr.Levi, ii) Mr.Jankhushie
4. Rengma = i) Mr.Daniel Kent, ii) Mr.Sentsei
5. Plain Tribe = i) Mr.Manoranjan Mech, ii) Mr.Losan Chandra Mech
6. Ao = i) Mr.N.I.Jamir, ii) Mr.Yajen Aier
7. Sema = i) Mr.Nihoi Jakhalu, ii) Mr.Hokishe
8. Lotha = i) Mr.Nchumo, ii) Mr.Etssorhomo
9. Konyak = i) Mr. Thanwang
10. Chang = i) Mr.Loyem, ii) Mr.Sangba
11. Sangtam = i) Mr.Chuba, ii) Mr.Litingse
12. Kiamniungan = i) Mr.Pasu
13. Yimchunger = i) Mr.Monokiu, ii) Mr.Lakhimong
14. Phom = i) Mr.Hamnyo(Hamnyei)
15. Leaders = i) Mr.A.Kevichusa, ii) Mr.Mayang, iii) Mr.Sashimeren Aier, and iv) Mr.Khelhoshe
16. Secretary = Mr. J.B.Jasokie
The third session of the Naga Peoples’ Convention was held at Mokokchung from the 22nd June, 1959 onwards. After full deliberations on various recommendations of the Committee to form the basis of negotiation with Government of India for the settlement of the Naga political problem, the Sixteen Points Resolution was adopted. The Working Committee was entrusted to select a Negotiating Body and accordingly, the committee had selected following members of the Negotiating Body:
1) Dr.Imkongliba Ao, 2) Mr.J.B.Jasokie, 3) Mr.S.C.Jamir, 4) Mr.Khelhoshe, 5) Mr.Etssorhom, 6) Mr.Thanwang, 7) Mr.Goyiepra Kenye, 8) Mr.Litingse, 9) Mr.Imtichuba Chang, 10) Mr.Lakhimong Yimchunger, 11) Mr.Thinochelie, 12) Mr.Sentsei, 13) Mr.Pauting Phom, 14) Mr.P.Shilu Ao, 15) Mr.R.C.Chiten Jamir, 16) Mr.P.Demo, 17) Mr.H.Zopianga (Official) 18) Mr. Sashimeren Aier (Official).
On the 26th July, 1960, the delegates met the Prime Minister, Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister after going through the 16-Point Memorandum enquired whether we could replace ‘Nagaland’ with a suitable and purely Naga word. The leader of the delegation had no suitable word to replace “Nagaland” so it would have to be ‘Nagaland’. Coming to the twelfth point with regard to the transfer of reserved forests, “The Naga delegation discussed the question of the inclusion of the Reserved Forests and contiguous areas inhabited by the Nagas. They were referred to the provisions in Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution, prescribing the procedure for the transfer of areas from one state to another”. Regarding the thirteenth dealing with the consolidation of contiguous Naga areas, “The Naga leaders expressed the view that other Naga inhabiting contiguous areas should be enable to join the new State. It was pointed out to them on behalf of the Government of India that Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution provided for increasing the area of any state, but that it was not possible for the Government of India to make any commitment in this regard at this stage”. The Prime Minister had no objection to the other points. Thus the most historic meeting between the Prime Minister and the Naga Leaders concluded.
The first resolution of the Naga Peoples’ Convention was that the only answer to the Naga problem was a satisfactory political settlement and the setting up a new administrative unit as essentially an interim measure and in no way it closes the door for further political negotiation. By formation of the Naga Peoples’ Convention, the Naga Hills District of Assam and the Tuensang Frontier Division of North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) were brought together and formed Naga Hills – Tuensang Area (NHTA) and the Sixteen Points Agreement. As a result Nagaland got separate Statehood. Otherwise, present ENPO areas would be erstwhile NEFA or in present Arunachal Pradesh and the Naga Hills District of Assam in Assam State.
Chingwang Konyak