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The movement of the Naga National Council

A few people alive today were born before the Naga National Council [NNC] was formed in 1946: my class friend, Retd Gen, Rüguosielie Chakrünuo of the Federal Government Nagaland,; myself, Thepfulhouvi Solo. IFS, [84] retired Principal Secretary Nagaland; Gen. Viyalie Metha, Kedahge FGN, a little older than I am and Miss. Adinno Phizo, President Naga National Council.
Miss Adinno Phizo was teaching in the Bible School at Phek during the early fifties when barbaric Indian soldiers began their operations everywhere in the Naga Hills.
Providence looked after her to escape from the Indian Soldiers and she is here today President of Naga National Council. At 90 years, she could be the oldest amongst celebrants of the 76th birthday of the formation of the Naga National Council.
The first meeting of NNC was held in the Class Six Room of the Government ME School at Wokha. The Members who attended that meeting have all gone to the other side of the river.
This Writer knew quite some of them personally: -Kevichüsa IAS [Minister NNC Govt 1947], his brother Zhieviselhu, Krusiehu, Nchemo, Rev. Longri, Lungalang, Thepfurüya, Wezülo Tsüha, Sentsi, Khelhoshe Sema [Minister NNC Govt 1947]; Shilukaba (Shilu Ao), Thepfülo-u, Vizol, Jasokie -all four former State Chief Ministers; Aliba Imti, Mhondamo Kithan ; Visar Viswentso and Zapuphizo –1st , 2nd , 3rd and 4th Presidents of the NNC; Theyieu Sakhrie, Imnaonen -1st and 2nd Secretaries NNC; and Kezehol -a member of the Advisory Sub-Committee for the North-East of the Constitution making Body Sardar Patel chaired, and member of Naga Delegates Phizo led that met Mahatma Gandhi at Bhangi Colony New Delhi.
I also know, though not personally, Mangyangnokcha [Minister NNC Govt 1947]; NNC President before NNC Office was opened in Kohima on 7 Nov 1946.
It was in this meeting that Kevichüsa introduced, for the first time, the “bombshell” Idea that the “NAGAS ARE A NATION”. Initially there were unbelievable comments of which he and Mangyangnokcha explained away and the Monthly Magazine of Naga Hills Tribal Council’s ‘KOHIMA TIMES’ was joyously and tumultuously Christened ‘THE NAGA NATION’ from October 1946: only two volumes survived today: one with Aliba Imtis’s eldest son Philip Imti, and the other with this writer.
There is only one person who attended the first NNC Meeting at Wokha and still not yet crossed over to the other side of the River, still sprightly alive -Dr. L. M. Murry, the first Naga Post Medical Graduate, with special Plastic Surgery Training from the UK.
He was in Class 6 when he attended the meeting just to satisfy his curiosity because the meeting was held in his class room. He sat on the last bench in the corner of the room and observed the Meeting evolve animatedly.
There were some 30 or so members present, “and it included one uncommonly huge Angami”, Murry said, [probably Vicha Savino, the father of Rev. Megosieso Savino; a bigger Angami I also have not seen] and the Meeting discussed all the matters very seriously in Assamese.
The Naga Democracy is freer than Westminster Democracy: R. Stewar, an early Officer of Cachar in 1855 wrote: “here is not the shadow of a constituted authority in the Naga community, and, wonderful as it may seem, this want of government does not lead to any marked degree of anarchy and confusion; on the contrary, in his village, the Naga is peaceful and hospitable, good-natured and honest; for months that I have lived with them, I never heard him use an angry word or inflict a bow, however slight, on any one.”
John Butler in 1875 wrote: “Everyone follows the dictates of his own will, a form of the purest form of democracy which it is very difficult indeed to conceive as existing even for a single day; and yet that it does exist here, is an undeniable fact.”
The Naga Democracy is more sensible and freer than Westminster Democracy, its Hallmark is Equality –everyman follows the dictates of his own will but greatly respects the common good of the community and greatly respects the authority of the Village Elder.
The NNC functioned with Gadhian principle of Non-Violence and Nelson Mandela’s principle of Force only if the Adversary follows it. The Council was formed in the best tradition of Naga Democracy: there was equal number of Representatives from each Tribe, big or small, yet most of the trans-Dikhu Areas haven’t come under Mokokchung Sub-Division then.
The NNC Leaders –Etsürhomo Lotha, Tolhopu Sema, Imnaonen Ao and President Phizo met Jowaharlal Nehru in a Boat in the Brahmaputra at Silghat near Tezpur in 1948. “President Phizo told Prime Minister that Nagas are going to be Independent whereon Nehru got very angry, raised his Fist and hit the Table, and said”:
“Whether Heavens fall or India goes into pieces,
Blood runs red in the country;
Whether I am here or anybody comes in,
Nagas will never get Independence”.
President Zapuphizo replied:
“It appears you are declaring war on the Nagas, we will not.”
[Verbatim recording by Imnaonen NNC Secretary personally told to the writer]
Some Nagas talk as if the Naga Labour Corps of 1917-18 fertilized the seed of Naga political vision on their return from Europe to Nag Hills, and that the Naga Club laid the political foundation of the Naga aspirations. Indeed the unlettered, uneducated Naga labourers exhibited no fears of the limitless water of Ocean during the journey or about the World War in Europe. The fear of the war and the prospect of never again seeing their family again made the Kukis of Manipur raise the Kuki Rebelion in Manipur in 1917.
The Naga labourers weren’t daunted at the unknown world outside, and if they learned anything, it was that the British and its Allies were better fighters in the White man’s war, which the British in the Naga Hills were glad to hear!
When they returned, the Naga labour Returnees returned to their own Jhum cultivations rather than engage in the business of changing the future of the Naga Society.
Had it not been for the NNC and the Christian Light; the Naga Village Republics would have vanished like ancient Philistines Village Republics who, with their Alphabet, -adopted by most of the nations of the World, introduced the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, with Iron Swords and iron Arrows which cuts and shoot through the bronze shields of the other peoples, seeded the Western Civilization half a dozen millenniums before the birth of Jesus.
Of the many savage tribes of the Northeast in the 19th Century; the Naga Hills were the only one that refused to enter into written Treaty Agreement with the British and that primitive foresight gave them a political space more than most of the other tribes in India have.
When the White man first came to the Naga Country at Chümukedima in 1846, they wanted to enter into Peace Agreement with the Villagers and enquired to call on the Rajah of the Village.
Jatsolie, the warrior leader of Chümukedi Village fixed his Spear on the ground in front, pointed it and said:
“This is our Raja”.
The Whiteman thereafter never tried to make Treaty Engagements with the Naga.
J. Johnstone, one of the most prominent officers of Naga Hills ever, and at one time, in charge of Chümukedi Head Quarter, described:
“Jatsolie, the Chief of Samagudting, a shrewd far-seeing man with great force of character.”
In the C.U. Aitcheson’s book of annals of Treaties, the British recorded:
“No written treaties or engagements have been made with any of the Naga Tribes”.
After the Naga Dobashi’s submission of their memorandum to the Simon Commission in writing Pad of the Naga Club: the later didn’t engage in any business of the Naga future.
Just as the Ten Commandments seeded the Penal Codes of the Civilized Nations of the World, the NNC and the Christian Light affected the pagan Naga.
The Naga’s most valuable democratic actions, in addition to the of the peaceful formation of the NNC, are its refusal to Participate in the Constituent Assembly of India, the boycott of Independent India’s first and second general Elections and the conduct of the free Plebiscite. These actions legitimized the Naga struggle for Freedom as Capstones and Corner stones.
The occupation of an Area of a lesser Power buy a superior Power is internationally not accepted and the Sovereignty of a people doesn’t vanish or is not something transferable; and HIS Majesty’s Government handing over Naga Sovereignty to India isn’t internationally acceptable.
The National Flag of a Nation or of an Organization is the exclusive Property of its Owner; it can’t be taken over by others or by army bullets; those are unacceptable under international Copy Right Act or Intellectual Property Right. It is unfortunate the NNC Flag is alienated from its original Owner!
There are many issues the Naga has to peacefully settle with India; it will be done only with the arrival of fullness of time in India and attainment of civilized maturity of the Naga. The fullness of time is not yet arrived to the Naga or to India yet. It may take Generations or Centuries or even millenniums but it will be, one day.
But before that however, there are several deep underlying issues the Naga has to reconcile themselves first:
The First Issue is the deep almost buried division between the so- called “Undergrounds Nationalists” and the so-called “State Over grounds”.
The Indian Army bullets did not break the Naga National Council: those who deeply know the past history of the Naga movement, will remember that some of the best NNC fighters befriended their foes against their own people; this danger lies for the future too, and unless the Naga is reconciled with themselves honestly, freely and courageously in reality, the kingdom of heaven may not fall down on their house front.
At one time the ‘Underground Naga’ looked, and treated the ‘Overground Naga’ as the supporters of Indian Government, -the foe of the Naga.
These feelings of division are so deeply buried in the Naga Mind today. The Naga Society must grow mature; more far sighted and courageously reconcile their divisions to become a free, open and a civilized bonded society.
The Second Issue is to reconcile the Nationalist Groups of the Naga: this appears more daunting, but actually it shouldn’t, because the only trouble here is the ‘Holier that Thou’ attitude in each of the Groups.
The simple solution is to have courageously large hearted, and deal the Issue with courageous Humility which indicate courage and large heartedness. Humility is a sign of greatness.
The Naga issues can’t be fully dealt in short in a few pages of an A-4 size paper and I must end here.
Thepfulhouvi Solo