EXPANDING THE DREAM OF NAGA NATION AND THE THREAT TO INTEGRITY OF NEIGHBOURING INDIAN STATES


By H Bhubon Singh
The Sangai Express
Aug 11 2011

In his book “Durable Disorder: Understanding The Politics Of North East India” by ShriSanjibBaruah, published by Oxford University Press: Rs. 495/=, he wrote about “The Naga nation in-building-phase”, as follows:-

‘On the question of expanding the identity of the Nagas which has embraced communities with close linguistic and anthropological ties with other ethnic groups their sympathy in matters of identity, the only thing that should matter is how the group wishes to be known. The problem arises when this expanding identity is tied to territory. The newly born state’s consciousness can come into direct collision with existing historical states…” The goal of creating a single political / administrative unit out of all Naga inhabited areas, puts the Naga project of nationhood in collision course with a parallel Manipur project, which was historically, linguistically, ethnically and culturally consolidated by successive Maharajas of Manipur. For some reasons, in dealing with this issue, the Nagas of Nagaland are rather silent about the Kukis, who share virtually the same homeland (hill areas) with the Nagas. This seems a big lacuna, considering notion of exclusive homeland. This was the primary cause of the bloody.’


Kuki-Naga conflict’ of mid 1990s wherein about 2000 Kukis were killed by NSCN insurgents in Manipur.’

Myth about Naga Nation In the book titled “History of the Frontier Areas Bordering on Assam (1883-1941) by Sir Robert Reid, Governor of Assam, 1937-1942, page 99, it says:

Naga Hills 1881-1890 – The history of the Naga Hills since 1882, where Mackenzie leaves off, is the same in kind as that of the yearspreceeding. The process of penetrating into the Hills, the early stage of which are described in Mackenzie’s book has been a gradual one, dictated originally and mainly, by the necessity of protecting our settled districts, Nowgong and Sibsagar, from raiding Nagas, ……………… Visits to troublesome villages led inevitably to establishment of posts to control their doings. For our first permanent footing, Samoogodting [Chimakudi] was chosen in 1866-67. This village commands the Diphu gorge, the natural path to the plains from which Nowgong could be protected against Western Angami raids expecially from the powerful villages of Mozema, Khonoma and Jotsome, than the old outpost of Asalu to the South-West. Thence we proceed in 1878 to move to Kohima and the Manipur frontier, and simultaneously to Wokha in order to dominate the Lotha country to the east of Dikhu and to protect it from raids from the north and east. The final decision to make the Naga Hills a British district (obviously of Assam) was taken in 1881 …………… problems to be solved.

Nomenclature in the Naga Hills history presents great difficulties ………. throughout the older writings. To start with, of course, the general name of “Naga” is merely an Assamese appellation, meaning “naked”, and, like the stereotyped tribal names now in common use ………………. Thus, Lieutenant GFF Vincent, “Acting Junior Assisstant Commissioner on Special Duty, Angamee Naga Hills”, writing to his Principal Assistant Commissioner at Nowgong, Captain John Butler, on the 10th September 1850, describes how he was surprised to find “the people called by us ‘AngameeNagas’ were totally ignorant of the signification of the term and how he learnt that this was a term given by the Cacharees to all independent Nagas signifying in their language, ‘unconquered’. This is repeated in 1873 by that great authority Captain Butler, in the long extract regarding the Naga tribes …………

Hence, there is no Naga nation. Naga is a generic term for all tribal peoples living in the erstwhile Naga Hills District of Assam, because of the scanty clothes they used to put on then, but not now. The Nagas are better dressed that the majority of the Indians, at present.

British Conquest of Naga Hills In October 1879, Major General Sir James Johnstone KCSI, the British Political Agent of Manipur received an SOS message from Mr. Cowley, the Assistant Political Agent of Naga Hills, conveying the news that Mr. Damant, the British Political Agent at Kohima was murdered and the British camp sheltering some British officers, women and children were encircled and that immediately help was required.

On the request of Johnstone the British Political Agent in the Durbar of Manipur, the Maharaja immediately sent 2000 soldiers under the command of Surachandra Singh (his eldest son), Tikendrajit Singh (the third son) and Major General Thangal. This force was accompanied by Major General Sir James Johnstone and his security guard of about 80 men of Bengal Infantry and Cachar Police. Kohima was relieved and rebellion suppressed and the Anglo-Manipur Army conquered all the Naga areas uptoDhansiri River. Sir James Johnstone praised Maharaja Chandra Kirti Singh who was knighted by conferment of KCSI (Knight Commander and Star of India) in 1880 by Her Majesty Queen Victoria of England. Naga Hills area was merged into Assam as one of its district in 1881.

Since most fo the Babus (clerks) in the office of Deputy Commissioner at Kohima were Assamese or Hindustanis, and further since the newly created Naga Hills District was inhabited by dialectically different tribes like Ao, Lotha, Sema, Angami, Phom, Konyak, Rio, Rengma, Chakesang, Gwizantsu (tribe of famous Naga leader A Z Phizo) etc., a mix of Hindustani and Assamese got developed, known as Nagamese which became the common language in the then Naga Hills District and the present State of Nagaland. In fact, this language binds the Nagas Hills District together.

The clever British established Kohima Club in 1881 itself, in order to exchange dialogue with the rebellious Nagas and pacify them and convert into Christianity, in both of which the British succeeded.

British Indian Empire & Simon Commission About eight decades ago in 1929, British Indian Empire consisted of present day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar (old Burma), Sri Lanka (old Ceylon) and the seaport of Aden, now in Republic of Yemen in the Arabian Sea. Sikkim and Bhutan were Protectorate Kingdoms of the British Crown.

During those days of bad physical communication through bridle paths known as roads, and the non-existence of rail / telegraph / postal services etc., the Governor General and Viceroy requested the Home Government in London to cut down the then spread of the British Indian Empire. Upon this, the Home Government in London agreed to the suggestion and Simon Commission was set up in 1929 to examine the details on the ground.

At that point of time, Mr. James Hutton was Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills District of Assam. On Hutton’s request, the Governor General and Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin agreed to send Simon Commission to Kohima soon after arrival.

Simon Commission came to Kohima and met with about dozen members of Kohima Club, who were clerks and petty official, who grew up in half century (1929 to 1881 = 48 yrs) of British rule. Through James Hutton, the Kohima Club extracted from the Simon Commission, a tag known as “Excluded Area” for Naga Hills District, whereby all mainland Indians were required to obtain “Inner Line Permit” to enter Naga Hills District. Since Manipur was land-locked, Manipuris were allowed to pass through Naga Hills District without ILP.

Intended but failed visit of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Manipur Sometime in 1941, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then yet-to-be-crowned Prime Minister of India, visited Assam for the first time. There, he learnt about the existence of a Hindu Kingdom known as Manipur ruled by a Maharaja. He expressed his desire to have a ‘dekho’ of Manipur. So, he came to Dimapur-Manipur-Road-Junction, which was in Bokajan District of Assam. He wanted to reach Manipur by car. Pandit Nehru was told at Nijagarot to obtain an Inner Line Permit. He got so angry that he left Dimapur in a huff, on the ground that as in Indian, he should be permitted to visit any part of India. I remember this incident very well, since I was a student of class VII in Johnstone School and by that time, the wind of freedom movement had swept Manipur and photographs of Mahatma Gandhiji, Nehruji used to decorate our sitting rooms in the verandah.

In fact, when we heard that Panditji would be housed in the British-built, ImphalDak Bungalow (now office of the Imphal Municipality Council), we, youngsters went to sweep the rooms and also clean the surroundings. Ultimately, when we heard that Panditji went back from Dimapur, we felt very sad. ILP was removed for Indians entering Manipur by air or by road via Jiribam during Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh’s reign in 1949, consequent to public agitation led by Praja Socialist Party leader MadhuLimaye, who stayed in SingjameiThokchomLeikai, Imphal.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose & INA
With NetajiSubhas Chandra Bose’s INA (Indian National Army) fighting for Indian independence and the hoisting of the tri-colour Indian National Flag by Col. Ahmed B Mallick of INA at Moirang, the clever Brits decided to grant independence to India, but after partitioning into India and Pakistan. Incidentally, Pakistan means, Pak (sacred) and stan (homeland). Indeed, the trials of INA officers like Maj. Gen. Bhonsale, Capt. LaxmiSehgal etc. at Red Fort, Delhi ended in a happy note of release. This was a far-sighted policy of the Brits.

Dawn of Indian Independence
The Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947. I quote, the first paragraph (after the preamble, which is unparagraphed) as under:-

The New Dominions
(i) As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.
(ii) The said Dominions are hereafter in this Act referred to as ‘the new Dominions’ and the said fifteenth day of August is hereafter in this Act referred to as ‘the appointed day’.
About a month before passing Indian Independence Act, 1947, one Professor Campbell belonging to the University of Cambridge came up with a wild idea that India should be tri-furcated into three Dominions namely India, Pakistan and a Christiandom (or any name to be selected by the UK government), which should consist of Christian majority areas of the eastern part of Manipur where Christianity had spread, Lushai Hills (now Mizoram, Khasi and Jaintia Hills (now Meghalaya) and other pockets of Assam where Christianity predominated. But, the idea was turned down by the then UK government because of lack of geographical link and most importantly, road and rail disconnect.

Phizo & Naga Independence
Notwithstanding the rejection at the instigation of Charles Pawsay, the famous Naga leader Mr. A Z Phizo declared “independence of Nagas” on 14th August 1947, one day prior to Indian Independence and invited a war between India and Nagas. Therefore, it will be apt to say that it was ONLY through the ingenuity of the British to transform a CLUB (Kohima Club) into a NATION”. The clever British right from James Hutton (1929, Simon Commission days) upto Sir C Pawsay (August 1947) pricked India. Now, I do allege that it was the dexterous British who planted the seeds of Naga war for independence, now taken up by NSCN(IM) and its splitted outfit, NSCN(K). Incidentally, (IM) stands for Isaac Muivah and (K) stands for Khaplang. In Naga Hills District of Assam, the Naga rebels and the Naga public, except a few nationalists who were normally eliminated by killing, had been and is till now, the obverse and reverse faces of the same coin. Even, ShriThangmeilenMuivah, Gen. Secretary of NSCN(IM) managed to escape death by the skin of his teeth, when he was ambushed.

Formation of State Of Nagaland Many of us are aware of the fact that Major Ralengnao (Bob) Khathing, MC, MBE, recipient of Padma Shri, from Ukhrul District of Manipur hoisted India’s tri-colour flag at Tawang in the afternoon of 14 February 1951 amidst the singing of the National song “Jana GanaMana” by security guard of one company of 5 Assam Rifles then located at Lokra (Assam) on the foothills of the Great Himalayan Ranges.

At that time, Naga insurgency movement under the Late A Z Phizo, the supreme leader got spilled over to neighbouringTuensang Frontier Tract of the erstwhile North East Frontier Agency (NEFA). So, Indian Army moved into Kohima to quell the movement. Since Major Khathing had become Second Advisor to His Excellency to the Governor of Assam, his office moved into Kohima for liaison with Army where HQ 8 Mountain Division was located. Hence, administratively Naga Hills District and Tuensang Frontier Tract became one administrative unit. Thus, a new nomenclature known as Naga Hills and Tuensang came into use. So, when Naga Hills District became a full fledged State of India on 1st December 1963, Tuensang became a part of new state of Nagaland.

Birth of insurgency in Manipur When Manipuri youths learnt the news of grant of statehood to Nagaland and ignoring Manipur and realized that obstinacy, insurgency and secessionism pays dividends, they started Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF) etc. in early 1960s. These outfits and many others like KYKL (KangleipakYawolKanbaLup), KCP (KangleiCanba Party), KNA (Kuki National Army) etc. numbering now nearing two dozens came into existence. The births of Meitei insurgents are Government of India’s gift to Manipur, for the brazen mistake of gratifying the naughty and ignoring the faithful Manipuris. As you will find as you read on, GOI is continuing with this programme of appeasement of Nagas of Nagaland.

21.  On the advice of American Baptist Church, the leaders of Naga Hills District demanded a railhead for the yet-to-be formed State of Nagaland. So, the plains area of Bokajan District of Assam was ceded to the State of Nagaland in order to include Dimapur Manipur Road junction. In the bargain, an aerodrome for air traffic known as Kohima aerodrome got established, not at Kohima, but at Dimapur plains area.

Statehood for Manipur 22. Over here, it may be pertinent to mention that Manipur managed to become a full-fledged State of India on 21 January 1972, almost nine years after Nagaland, consequent to mob violence in a public meeting addressed by the Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Imphal Polo Ground. Incidentally, the first Chief Minister of the full-fledged State of Manipur was Md. Alimuddin. The line-up of the then Manipur State Cabinet of 20-3-72 was:-
· Md. Alimuddin, Chief Minister
· YangmasoShaiza, Finance Minister
· Shri Y Yaima Singh, Education Minister
· Ngurdinglen, Development Minister
· Kh. Chaoba Singh, PWD Minister

23.  A Muslim Chief Minister of Manipur, when there was only one Muslim for every four hundred Manipuris or 0.25% of population displayed the broad-mindedness of Meitei Hindus. Amazingly Meitei’s shared two Minister’s berth equal to tribal population of Manipur.

Naga Peace Talks 24. Now, going back to Nagaland’s history after Statehood, the Church instigated for more ‘lebensraun’. They wanted the land areas of Manipur, where ‘the so-called Manipuri Nagas are residing. So, using the camouflaged words “Peace Talks”, they trapped GOI to initiate peace. At that point of time in April 1965, I was a Major in Zakhama commanding 19 Field Company, then an independent and self-accounting field unit of Bombay Engineering Group before Engineer Regiments were formed. So, I could see the happenings from the grandstand of the gallery.

25.  The Peace Mission, which soon ended as Quarrel Mission, consisted of SarvaNeta Jai Prakash Narayan, ShriBimol Chandra Chaliha, former Chief Minister of Assam and Rev. Peter Scott, representing Nagaland. While the Talks did not progress as desired, on account of unacceptable demands put forth by Rev. Peter Scott, it was found out that he was spying also. Hence, Rev. Peter Scott as expelled from India as ‘persona non grata’ (unwanted person). Indeed, Government of India should have refused to accept Rev. Peter Scott, a man from Church (religion) as representative of the State of Nagaland.

Three mighty events 26. Recently three mighty events happened in Manipur because of Nagaland Government and politicians and Naga civic bodies on one hand and GOM on the other hand. The first one was the front page headline news of Imphal Free Press dated Saturday, May 14 2011 which said “Tripartite talks on UNC (United Naga Council) demands.” The details of the news said that UNC is the Naga Apex body and the talks would be held on May 30 at Senapati. The Govt. of Manipur Team consisting of H’ble Ministers N Biren, D DThaisii, T N Haokip and Chief Secretary D S Poonia went to meet the powerful UNC. Nothing significant came out of the Talks, except for waste of time, on blah, blah by leaders of UNC.

27.  My question over this issue is “Is the United Naga Council (UNC) so powerful that the Council could summon H’ble Chief Minister of Manipur or GOM’s ministerial Team backed up by Chief Secretary etc. at their chosen place, chosen time and chosen date? Why is GOM surrendering to UNC? From my point of view UNC should descend from their lofty heights and come down to Imphal and seek for an appointment from our Chief Minister and hold dialogue. Yesterday (30 June 2011), I was watching and listening to DDK Imphal 7:00 pm evening news, there I saw Shri D S Poonia, completely bored but listening to the blah-blah of UNC representatives.

28.  The second mighty event was the proposed visit of Nagaland Chief Minister, ShriNeiphiu Rio despite GOM’s firm decision to prevent forcible entry into Senapati District of Manipur. GOM had dispatched IRB, MR, and Civil Police to prevent Shri Rio. However, I do believe that a telephone call from Shri P Chidambaram must had compelled the Manipur Chief Minister to cool down his heels and suffer in silence. The triumphant Rio opened a branch office of his regional party DAN (Democratic Association of Nagas) at Senapati, implying that Senapati District is now part of Nagaland.

29.  The third mighty event was tea-shop public response in depressed mood, which was made loud and clear by ShriRadhabinodKoijam, ex-Chief Minister of Manipur, that we,Manipuris would never tolerate territorial expansion of Nagaland into Manipur.

30.  Yesterday, 30 June 2011, I was watching and listening to DDK Imphal news bulletin at 7:00 pm and I saw the failed Tripartite Talks between UNC (United Naga Council) on the one hand and GOM (Government of Manipur) representatives on the other hand, and GOI representatives on third hand again at Senapati.

31.  The line-up of both the teams of GOI and GOM indicated the seriousness of the Talks. The team of GOI was led by Shri U K Bansal, Secretary (Internal Security) MHA; Shri A K Mishra, Jt. Director (Intelligence Bureau); ShriSambhu Singh, Jt. Secretary, North East and Colonel S K Narayan, Director-II, Ministry of Defence.

32.  GOM was represented by Chief Secretary Shri D S Poonia; Principal Secretary Shri L P Gonmei; Shri B K Kishpota, Commisssioner (Home); ShriSajjadHussain, Commissioner, Planning; ShriSumant Singh, Secy. to CM; ShriDeveshDeval, Jt. Secy. (Home); ShriPradeep Kumar Jha; DC SenapatiandShriNishit Kr. Ujwal, SP Senapati.

33.  UNC was represented its Chairman Shri Sword Vasum, Member Secretary of UNCShri L Adani, Mani Charanamei {ex-MP who was NSCM(IM)’s candidate and won election by guns of IM}, Shri K S Paul and others. The Talks failed, perhaps on the demand for splitting the geographical integrity of Manipur.

34.  NSCN(IM)’s dream project is to carve out Nagalim (lim means land), reminiscent of ‘lebensraun’ or living space of Adolf Hitler’s Germany, which ended in disaster for the German nation. The logo of Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim is ‘Nagaland for Christ’ shown at the side. NSCN(IM)’s ultimate aim is to do an East Timor to India. In any case, since a Government of People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN) within the Republic of India, cannot exist side by side, the sanctuary provided to NSCN(IM) at Hebron Camp must be wound up immediately. NSCN(IM) are quislings and must be expelled from India. Is GOI listening please

35.  If the dictum that where the Nagas dominate, that area should be merged into Nagalim/Nagaland, is internationally accepted as holy truism, then for example, if the County of Plymouth is Indian dominated by settlement of Indians like Lord Paul of Marylebone, presently Deputy Speaker of House of Lords and Lord Meghnad Desai contesting for post of Speaker (refer the Hindu, June 15 2011) or Mr. (probably Lord) V S Naipaul (author or ‘An area of Darkness’) and other Indians then, can India claim the County of Plymouth as the new twenty ninth State of India? Absolutely weird.

36.  About three years ago, an able and brave and well educated Doctor of books, Dr. ThingamKishan, SDO, Ukhrul, was killed in presence of DC Ukhrul, who has now joined his parent cadre in Bihar. The ex-DC of Ukhrul perhaps knew about the proposed killing but is now avoiding investigation by the Sessions Court of Manipur. For the dreaded NSCN(IM) “laws are for law books only; in the jungles and in the hills, the law is what the cadres of NSCN(IM) dictate and do”. The Government of Manipur and the Ministry of Home of GOI must ban NSCN(IM) and root them out.

37.  H’ble Home Minister P Chidambram an intellectual giant may condescend to read Military History, which was and still is, a subject taught in IMA, Dehradun, and OTS, Chennai. Also, I humbly advise him to read counter-insurgency campaigns like the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the then French Indo-China fought in 1954, the suppression of Malaya Peninsula insurgents in 1946-47 by Major General Templar, later on CIGS (Chief of Imperial General Staff), UK, the revolt of Mau Mau terrorists in Kenya, about the same year, and the defeat of the mighty American Army supported by aircrafts of the USA’s 7th Fleet of the Pacific Ocean, mid-1990s. The American Army was led by General Westmoreland and he used napalm bombs, which spread burning jelly sticking to the skin. The whole world saw the unique photograph of a young girl absolutely naked, crying and running to cool her skin. After years of search, she was located at the USA. General Westmoreland ultimately became Chief of the American Army, since there was no strategic blunder and tactical mistakes and deficiency of bravery by American forces.

38.  At this juncture, please permit me to offer some accounts of factual things which were linguistically happening in the entire Himalayan ranges starting from Ladakh to Arunachal, upto the ancient Kingdom of Manipur. For example, Tenga Valley in Kameng District of Arunachal State has a valley of the River Tenga. And Tenga was derived from ‘Thi’ meaning ‘plenty’ and ‘nga’ meaning ‘fish’. So, Thi-Nga became ‘Tenga’. In Manipuri language, ‘nga’ means ‘fish’. There is linguistic similarity. Bomdila is derived from ‘bom’ meaning ‘bamboo’, ‘thi’ meaning ‘plenty’ and ‘la’ meaning ‘pass’. So, ‘Bom-thi-la’ became Bomdila which means a mountain pass, growing plenty of bamboo.

39.  In 1962, I was a Major in Research and Development Establishment, Pune and went to Leh/Ladakh area for testing prototype equipment. There, I stayed in the Officers Mess of Brigadier T N Raina (later Chief Of Army Staff, Indian Army) atDarbuk. I went uptoChushul Lake, whose waters are shared half-half with India and China. Over there, I picked up some Ladakhi language, which I found was very similar to Manipuri language.

40.  It is a fact that the ancient Kingdom of Manipur had a written history, known as ChietharolKumbaba (Royal Chronicles) right from 33 AD and Puyas or Puranaswhich
were animistic religious books, written in Manipuri script.We believed in worshipping sylvan deity. Having a script and also having a written history do signify the extent of Meitei civilization.

41.  I must frankly and also proudly admit and proclaim that Meitei Kshetriyas (including Rajkumars) were all tribals before the advent of Hinduism. Meitei Kings, then known as Meidingus, used to inter-marry with tribal ladies and vice versa. Please permit me to tell you something about the history of Manipur.

42.  Meidingu (meaning King) Charairongba ruled Manipur from 1697 to 1708 for eleven years only. It is probable that Charairongba was dethroned in a Palace intrigue. The Queen of Charairongba was Ningthilchaibi from a village near Maram. The Queen had a son, whose name was Pamheiba. On account of fear of killing the infant Pamheiba, Queen Ningthilchaibi arranged to bring up the infant Prince at her ancestral Maram village till time was ripe to crown her son.

43.  The Queen conspired with a Kom tribal named AkomKom who was a powerful courtier in the Palace, on two conditions that if the conspiracy succeeded, firstly,AkomKom’s daughter must marry the new Meidingu or son of Ningthelchaibi and secondly, he must be made a minister. The conspiracy succeeded and Pamheiba became Meidingu in 1708.

44.  Around 1715 or near about, Shanti Das Gosain a Hindu Bengali Brahmin from Sylhet, then a part of Bengal Subah (province) of Moghul Empire came to Manipur and converted MeidinguPamheiba into Hinduism and crowned him as Maharaja GaribNiwaj Singh and burnt the Puyas (animistic religious books) of Meiteis which the Maharaja and Shanti Das Gosain could collect.

45.  Over here, I wanted to tell that Maharaja GaribNiwaj Singh conquered Burma upto Mandalay and over there he put a cut-mark by his sword on the door of the main Pagoda at Mandalay. The cut mark existed till late nineteen hundreds, but it does not exist now, since the Pagoda had been destroyed due to construction of four lane highway in Mandalay.

46.  There is now a wind of revival of the old animistic religion, which is followed by about 5% of Meiteis. Also, Christianity has spread into Manipuri society perhaps to about 0.5% of Meitei population. Since India is an independent and free country, no one has any objection to the spread of Christianity or Buddhism etc. or revival of Meitei animistic religion.

47.  During the Meidingu and Maharaja periods, all tribal Chiefs were to come to Kangla Fort, Imphal, on the full moon night of the month of Kartik (month of Mera by Meitei calendar) and present a gift maybe a Tankhul spear or a Kabui sword or anything like a big pumpkin or a big potato etc. according to the Chief’s resources. This tradition continued during the British period also when Manipur was ruled by Maharaja Churachand Singh, KCSI, CBE.

48.  Now, because of the fear of hurting the sentiments of tribal being called as Hao (hill tribes), considered derogatory, “MeraHaoChongba” has now been dubbed as “MeraHouChongba” since tribal Chiefs and Manipuri Kings danced and shouted “Hou! Hou! Hou! …… “ etc. What stupid timidity on telling a historical truth! I have no shame in admitting that my ancestors were Haos (tribal as my surname Hoabamindicates).Haobams are descendents of AkomKom.

49.  During those of Meidingu period, the Kings of Manipur and perhaps the Meiteis also used to eat beef. So, at Kangla Fort, there is still a big, flat stone known as “Shan (cow), Hatpham (slaughter)”.

50.  During Lai-Haraoba functions, (the worship of sylvan deity) the presence of a real Tangkhul and a real Kabui was the normal practice, even during the reign of the last King of Manipur, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh. Of course, after Manipur got merged into India on 15th October 1949, this practice stopped.

51.  Here, I wish to mention that, I was and am still an experimenter of curious things. So, using an alarm clock, I got up at around 2:00 am on the Purnima (full moon) night of Mera (Kartik), some years ago (2005). To my utter surprise, the bright full moon shone so nicely without any speck of cloud in the sky that on this particular night as legend says that ‘one can thread a needle’ was found to be almost true. Anyone check it.

52.  It is believed that Tangkhuls and Meiteis were brothers staying in the hills, when Imphal valley was a big lake. Loktaklake, one of the big lakes in India emptied itself when Imphal river screwed an outlet through nine rows of hills into Ningthee (Chindwin) turrel (river). During the reign of Maharaja Gambhir Singh Ningthiturrel was the boundary between Burma and Manipur.

53.  Kabaw valley, an area of about 8000 sq. kms. up toNingtheeturrelto Meitei’s and Chindwin river to Burmese belonged to Manipur by right of conquest by Maharaja Gambhir Singh followed by the settlement of Manipuries but itwas gifted away to Burma in 1953, when India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and Burmese Prime Minister U Nu visited Imphal. At that time, the Chief Commissioner of Manipur was ShriRameshwar Prasad Bhargava, ICS and I wonder if Pandit Nehru consulted the CC of Manipur. Anyway, for the public of Manipur, it was a shocking news.

54.  Now, I may please be allowed to inform leaders of India and leaders of NSCN(IM) particularly Mr. ThingmeilenMuivah who is a Tangkhul and other NSCN leaders that ethnically, linguistically, culturally, Tangkhuls and Meiteis are brothers with the Tangkhul being senior. To prove this, let me give you some examples of linguistic similarity:-

(a) Counting of Numbers:-
Tangkhul Manipuri English
Akha  Ama  One
Khani  Ani  Two
Khatum  Ahum  Three
Mati  Mari  Four
Phanga  Manga  Five
Thruk  Taruk  Six

(b) Languages
Tangkhul  Manipuri  English
NawiEemingKipa Ho? Nangi Ming Kari Kouyee? What Is Your Name?
Nao   Inao   Baby Brother
Na Cha Haila?  Nang ChakCharabra? Have You Taken Food?
NariLeishiye  Nang Nungshiye  I Love You
Lai   Lan   Battlefield
and so on.

55.  Culturally again, Leirum, the traditional Tangkhul blanket always forms one of the should-be and must-be items of wedding gift for any Manipuri bride, including Meitei Brahmins, whose original ancestors were mainlander Brahmins from Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh etc. Now, they are all Manipuri Hindu Brahmins in all respects of our Meitei society.

56.  It is worthwhile to inform you that the Chief of all Tangkhul clans is always the Chief of Hundung in Ukhrul Dist. I had gone to Hundung to meet the Chief around 1990. Though he was only about fifty years of age at that time and I was older to him by a decade or so, he desired that I should address him as ‘Ipa’ meaning ‘father’. I obliged him. In the courtyard of his residence, I saw stone-blocks with engravings indicating the date of visit by Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh KCSI, CBE, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh, and MaharajaOkendra Singh. Whenever, the Tangkhul Chief of Hundung came to Imphal, I heard that he always stayed at the Palace with our Titular Maharaja LeisembaSanajaoba. Mr. Muivah and other Tangkhuls must know, the blood, linguistic and cultural relations, we (Meiteis) have with Tangkhuls.

57.  Meitei Hindus also observe ‘MeraThaomeiThanbi’ (lighting a lantern) in which we erect a pole near the TulasiAngan in the courtyard and pull up a lantern singing “TulasiDarayo, DamuDarayo”, giving a light signal to our elder Tangkhul brothers that we are well and healthy. Tangkhul brothers will reply by burning hill sides. In this kind of cultural and linguistic relationship, it well be a very difficult task for NSCN(IM) and Mr. Neiphu Rio to break up Manipur State, despite opening of his regional party, DAN (Democratic Association of Nagas) at Senapati in June 2011 (this year), as if Senapati District is now a part of Nagaland.

58.  The naming of township and District of Senapati also had historical connection with the Kingdom of Manipur. During the period when Maharaja Sir Chandrakirti Singh was the monarch of Manipur, Major Gen. Sir James Johnstone, the British Political Agent in the Maharaja’s Court requested our Maharaja that since he was the representative of Her Majesty Queen Victoria of England, on whose Empire the sun never sets, he might please be received by a Prince of Manipur at some place at the tip of start of Imphal Valley and the Prince and Sir Johnstone would ride horses with armed guards and band party. The willy Maharaja agreed and sent Prince Tikendrajit, who used to camp at Karong area. The tribal peoples called the camp area as Senapati since Tikendrajit was Senapati. Hence, the names of township of Senapati and of district of Senapati had historical connection. The tribal people of Karong could not have named their area as Senapati which is a Sanskrit word.

59.  I now appeal to our Tangkhul, Kabui, Mao, Maram etc. Nagas of Manipur to remain united as we are bound linguistically through Meiteilon (Manipuri language), which we all know.

60.  Now, let me reproduce in toto, a biggish pamphlet issued by Shri S C Jamir, former Cong(I) Chief Minister of Nagaland and Governor of Goa, in toto as under:-

Bedrock Of Naga Society State exists not only for mere life but also for the sake of good life. - Aristotle

The 16-Point Agreement of 1960 came about when the Nagas were going through the worst of times. But it was also one of the best things to have happened to the Naga people because it led to the birth of Statehood – on whose firm foundation our society is built. In a larger form of things, due to the Agreement, for the first time, the world recognised the territory of the Nagas as Nagaland.

But of late, there has been an increasing tendency to criticise the 16-point Agreement signed between the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) and the Government of India that led to the creation of Nagaland State on December 1st 1963. The criticism implies that the 16-point agreement was a mistake, as the demand of the people was for complete independence from India. When carefully analysed, much of this criticism is bereft of historical facts and emanates from a section of frustrated politicians solely for the sake of narrow political and personal gains. Such groundless criticism can be safely ignored. However, what is of greater concern is that similar comments are also being made by impartial persons who have no political axe to grind and who genuinely have the interests of Nagas at heart. They too seem to believe that the 16-point agreement compromised the demand for a sovereign Naga nation. The voice of such persons deserves attention. It is therefore, necessary that the truth should be stated and the record
set straight. Let us talk on facts, not emotions. Emotions have a way of hiding the truth.

Sovereignty Myth And Reality The fundamental assumption underlying the notion that Statehood compromised the sovereignty of Nagas, is that the Nagas were a separate independent entity from time immemorial till the British rulers conquered them, therefore, when the British left India in 1947, the Nagas should have reverted to their independent status. Prima facie, this sounds an attractive proposition, but is it really true? Let us not he misled by words like ‘time immemorial’. Did we have an independent political existence at all immediately before the British rule or even during the British days? Were we really an independent nation? A political entity or a nation has to be based on historical facts. It pre-supposes the existence of a definite political structure that governs a clearly demarcated area of land which is inhabited by a people who accept this arrangement and have close contacts with each other. It also demands that the political structure would be either a monarchy, a democracy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, a dictatorship, or any structure that is universally accepted by political scientists as an ‘independent, self-governing and well defined political entity’ or a ‘nation’. Other areas in the North-East like Assam, Manipur, Tripura and the Kacharis had their territories and their kingdoms. Did we? The stark and inescapable truth is that neither did we have a definite and unified political structure and nor did we exist as a nation. We were actually a group of heterogeneous, primitive and diverse tribes living in far-flung villages that had very little in common and negligible contact with each other. Education did not exist and awareness about the world outside was totally absent. Each village was practically an entity in itself. A village does not make a nation. The main ‘contact’ between villages was through the savage practice of headhunting. Mutual suspicion and distrust was rife. People led an insular and isolated life. Internecine warfare was the order of the day. There was no trust or interaction between different tribe.

In these circumstances„ the question of a unified ‘Naga nation’ did not arise. No one can dispute these historical truths. There is enough documentation recorded by the British administrators, some as late as the end of the 19th century, which gives the correct picture as it existed. We cannot ignore such historical evidence and rely on emotional outbursts alone.

We continue to claim we were an independent nation till the British conquered us. Did we have a boundary for our nation? As late as the 1940’s when British rule was almost over, large parts of today’s Nagaland did not even exist on their maps. Instead of showing villages the maps showed large blank white spaces with the words “Unadministered and Unsurveyed”. Did we have a ruler or a Government? The writ of a village chief did not extend beyond his village. Did we have a capital city where the Government sat? The British Deputy Commissioner sat in Kohima out of convenience. Was this the capital of the independent Naga nation that we claim existed before the British? Did we have a currency or a coinage like other kingdoms or nations? We lived on barter till the British introduced the rupee. Did we have armed forces to defend our nation? Did we have common laws, rules and regulations for our nation as a whole? Did we have an administrative apparatus that looked after the welfare of the people? Did we have roads that linked the nation? The answer to all these are obviously in the negative. These questions cannot be ignored, especially by those who are educated and claim to be the intelligentsia of our society.

Let us face the reality that existed. Let us not distort history and let us not fool ourselves any more. The plain fact is that we never existed as an independent, unified nation at any time in our history. Yes, each village existed independently, but is that the equivalent of a Naga Nation? Even the names Naga or Angami or Ao or Sema or Chang were unknown to us. We called people of different tribes by other names. We led a primitive and brutish life in our villages, uncivilized and unlettered. The word of Christ was unknown and unheard of. Life beyond the village boundaries was unknown. Justice was rough and summary. Diseases went unchecked. Slavery was common. People lived and died without ever leaving their villages. We had no idea of the concept of a nation or independence or nationhood Is it right to make these tall claims that we were an independent nation before the British conquered us? At least, let us be honest about our ancestry and our history. We Nagas always prefer honesty to falsehood, however painful the truth may be.

The then Naga way of life is best summed up by R B McCabe who, writing about the Nagas in the 19th century, says “Grouped in small communities of from 100 to 3,000 persons, the Nagas have remained isolated on their hill tops, only deigning to visit their immediate neighbours when a longing for the possession of their heads become too strong to be resisted.

Beginning from the early 1950s, the Naga “nationalism” gained momentum and was accelerated with the election of A Z Phizo as president of the NNC on Dec 11, 1950. Under Phizo’s leadership, the Nagas conducted the Plebiscite of May 16,1951 in which it is claimed 99.9% of the Nagas voted for independence. This Plebiscite emotionally integrated the various Naga tribes, and boosted the morale of the movement. Most scholars agree that the whole Naga problem was ineptly handled by the then police and administration. The banning of the NNC in 1952 was a blunder which compelled the leaders to turn underground once and for all. The movement was given its first martyr when an officer of the Assam Police shot dead ZasibitoAngami of Jotsoma village on October 18, 1952 during a public demonstration. The ban was a blunder because Delhi did not realise the popular support the NNC had at that point of time.

An opportunity to settle the problem once and for all came when the prime ministers of India and Burma visited Kohima on March 30, 1953. But the then deputy commissioner of Kohima, for reasons best known to him, did not allow the Nagas to submit a memorandum to the visiting prime ministers. The several thousand Nagas gathered at the venue to receive the VIPs, turned and left the ground enmasse when they learned they were not to make themselves heard before the prime ministers. This was, indeed, a turning, point in the history of the Nagas.

It is agreed that political will was lacking somewhere down the line. But more important, awareness of each other’s way of life and reasoning was deplorably inadequate and thus, the impasse.

Division Of The Movement The abduction, torture and killing of T Sakhrie by his own people saw the splitting of the movement into two with the majority of the Nagas finding themselves literally between the devil and the deep blue sea – on the one hand, the Indian troops harassed, tortured, raped and herded villagers into concentration camps and burned their granaries, and on , the other hand, for the first and severest time in the history of Naga movement for self determination, Nagas began to hunt, torture and kill fellow Nagas which, understandably, divided the sympathy of the Naga people. The movement too, was divided and it fell into disarray. Several thousands of Nagas were killed; thousands more were tortured in the most inhuman manner; and the rest – the innocent public – suffered in the agony of having their loved ones killed and tortured – theirs was but to live in perpetual fear. They feared the Indian army, and they also feared their own people in the jungles. They neither liked the hammer nor the anvil.

And the sorry part of the whole saga of suffering was that there was nothing the world could do. Human rights awareness in these parts of the world in 1950s was almost absent and the innocents cried in silence and shed unseen tears.

The insensibility of the whole thing became simply mind boggling – but a clear conclusion dawned on the people. If the insanity was allowed to continue any longer, the very survival of the Nagas as a people would be put on the very brink of annihilation. The people could not work their fields. They could not live their normal lives. And since agriculture was, as is, the mainstay of the Nagas, the spectre of a widespread famine loomed large on the horizons.

Hell On Earth It became obvious that we had overestimated our strength and that the Government of India underestimated our capabilities to fight a long-drawn battle. At the same time, it also became painfully obvious that the public have suffered enough – too much blood had been shed and too many precious lives have been lost. Wives became widows and children became orphans; there was not a single family in all the Naga villages which had not lost a near and dear one to the atrocities of either Indian Army or the Naga undergrounds. The movement had become a nightmare for the Nagas.

The then prevailing situation in these hills was worse than the Hobbesian State of Nature where the worst in man was let loose upon their fellow beings. It was worse because fear, hatred and worst of all, suspicion was sown in the minds of the villagers for the first time. Villagers became suspicious of each other as a new group of people popularly known as intiligin (people who were under the employ of the Military Intelligence) were recruited to spy and report on the activities of the underground as well as the villagers.

The Government of India was clear that sovereignty was not possible under any circumstances. And also sensing the mood of despondency among the people, it made clear that status quo should continue and the Naga Hills’ would remain as a district of Assam. It seemed as if the Naga people had no future. It seemed as if the Nagas were destined to be lost in the multitude of people with alien culture, different thinking and aspirations.

It also appeared that the Naga movement initiated by Phizo had reached a dead end. And it was at this time that a few educated and patriotic persons who felt that the Naga people took stock of the then prevailing situation, and resolved that even if Independence was not possible, the land, identity and individuality of the Naga people should never be compromised with by remaining as a district of Assam. The choice was between survival and annihilation – the choice was between being submerged forever in Assam, or being recognised as a distinct entity having the freedom to exercise our traditional rights and respected as a people, or being trampled under the weight of dictatorship.

The generations of today cannot imagine the distress that the leaders of those days went through to take these choices. Many of these leaders were killed just because they voiced their feelings and convictions. But it is to their eternal credit that they did not take any decisions hastily or without consultations. They were, true to the spirit of the Naga ancestors, genuine democrats. They consulted and discussed all these issues in minute details with all the different tribes and even with those living outside Nagaland. Their sole intention was to ameliorate and alleviate the sufferings of the people and their efforts would be better appreciated when considered along with the fact that transport and communication as well as security in those days was nothing to write home about. However, the conviction that each and every group of Nagas should be thoroughly consulted before taking such a momentous decision as drawing up any agreement with the Government of India, overcame all hesitations and difficulties. Moreover, the leaders of that period took utmost care to ensure the voice and opinions of the villagers were heard, and a consensus was reached. After due deliberations and ensuring that all the tribes made their feelings known, the Naga People’s Convention was formed and a series of meetings were held at Kohima in 1957, at Ungma in 1958 and at Mokokchung in 1959 to seek the opinion of the people before responding to the invitation of the Government of India. It was understood from the very beginning that decisions would only be taken with the approval of the majority, and though not easy by any means to bring about a consensus opinion among the various, hitherto not too familiar tribes, a unanimous decision was worked out at long last. And after protracted negotiations with the Government of India, the 16-Point Agreement was signed in 1960 and the State of Nagaland born in 1963.

Covenant To End A War This Agreement is a remarkable document and it was the first of its kind signed by the Government with any section of its people. Nagaland is the only State born out of an agreement. This is indeed remarkable in the days when Delhi followed an iron-hand policy as far as integration of the country was concerned. Statehood of Nagaland was the amalgamation of the aspirations of the people especially their aspirations to live – in peace, normalcy and prosperity. It was a covenant without a battle to end a senseless war, and credit must go to the Naga leaders who had the rational desire and human instinct to escape from the senseless conditions of war that prevailed at that point of time. And it gave the Nagas worth and significance in the eyes of the world.

Statehood – Bedrock of Naga Society Statehood also gave the Nagas a sense of unity, identity and political entity for the very first time. Tuensang and Mon areas were merged with the new State and the representatives of these areas were represented for the first time in policy-making for the development of the people. It established parliamentary democracy in our society and ensured that the destiny of the Nagas would be decided and charted by the Nagas themselves and not by someone alien to their ways of life. At the same time, recognising the need to preserve our culture, traditions and customary laws, a special provision was added re the Constitution of India. Article 371 A of the Constitution gaurantees that, unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland so decides, no Act of the Indian Parliament would apply to the State of Nagaland in respect of
i) Religious and social practices of the Nagas
ii) Naga customary laws and procedures
iii) Administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary laws and
iv) Ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

In all respects, this is no mean achievement. But it is easy to belittle these achievements today and cast unwanted and unfair aspersions on the leaders who made it possible. It is also easy to sit in the comforts of one’s home, enjoy the fruits of Statehood and make unfair comments, forgetting all the trials and tribulations that went into giving the Nagas an honourable place in the Indian Union.

37 Years Of Statehood It has indeed, been a long and winding road for the Nagas in the last 37 years of Statehood. But nevertheless, we have come far and we have reasons to boast of our achievements.

In 1963, the population of the State stood at 3.69 lakh out of whom barely 18% or sixty-six thousand people were literate. There was not a single college in the whole State and there were only two Government High Schools, 11 middle schools and 180 primary schools. There were only two civil hospitals and a handful of smaller hospitals and dispensaries in some few places. Basic amenities such as water and electric supply were non-existent. Black-topped roads stretched for hardly 168 kilometres and the remaining roads barely reached a few administrative headquarters. The total fund allocation for the entire Naga Hills Tuensang Area in 1963 amounted to a paltry Rs 3.88 crore with a few hundred Government servants running the affairs of the State Government.

The State Legislative Assembly has voted a budget of Rs 1,725 crore for the year 2000-2001. And this directly reflects on the amount of investment and the degree of development the people of Nagaland has made in the last three-plus decades. Houses even in the remotest areas have CGI roofings with roads leading to them. Schools, play grounds, electricity and health care facilities have been provided to one and all. Our literacy rate stands at 83%, ranking among the highest in the whole country. Above all, we have our own elected legislators and about a lakh of government servants to run the government thereby enabling us to determine our own destiny.

Criminalisation Of The Cause What has happened to the movement for independence is clearly visible today. All idealism seems to have been lost and the goals for which thousands suffered and sacrificed their lives appear to have been completely forgotten. The movement has now degenerated into sheer terrorism with killing of innocents, extortion, looting, intimidation and threats becoming the order of the day. Gun culture is all-pervading and the price for dissent is death. People are afraid to express their opinions, and the straight forwardness that characterised Naga society appears to have vanished. Leaders who head the movement now do not seem to have the vision, the wisdom, the democratic credentials and the compassion that are required to lead a people and ‘run a nation’. They impose their decisions through threat. They do not command respect – they demand it from the people at gun point.

What was once a movement of the people by the people for the people, is now reduced to meaningless terrorism with the so-called national workers embarking on a spree of extortion and self-agrandisement A movement which once had volunteers sacrificing their everything is now reduced to goondaism. This is amply shown by the fact that cadres of the different factions of the underground go around villages demanding that they should be fed and supplied with rations and money, as if the villagers owe them.

In other words, the movement initiated and nurtured by the people has gone against the same people, and those criminalising the once noble movement force themselves to believe, or suffer from delusions, that they have the sympathy of the public. The recent resolution of the village representatives from the 1068 villages at the VDB Conference speaks volumes about the attitude of the people towards violence.

Modern Concept of Sovereignty Apart from this, we also must be practical enough to realise that independence is not some magic wand that would solve all our problems at one stroke. The world has changed, and national boundaries and territorial sovereignty have little meaning today. Small, under developed and economically poor nations have no future in a world that is increasingly driven by market economy. Inter-dependence has replaced independence as the means to prosperity and economics is the real politics of today. The modern concept of sovereignty is based on economic sovereignty, and not political sovereignty as in the past. The European Union is a prime example. A number of countries have formed the Union to have a common currency and maximise their economic interests. They have abolished all trade, citizenship and commercial barriers among their respective nations. The main reason why nations should merge is that people want prosperity, a better life; and rapid economic progress. They do not want to isolate themselves, nor do they want to strive in vain or live in poverty.

These are the trends that are dominating the global scenario today and it would be naive and self-defeating to ignore these developments sweeping across nations the world over.

Naga Independence: A Hypothesis In this background, let us seriously introspect on whether Nagaland can survive as an independent nation. There are people who argue even without a historical legacy, the Nagas must struggle for independence. Under the label of ‘scholars’ and ‘thinkers’ there are some busy-bodies who strongly advocate that Nagas are not Indians and that Nagaland is not part of India. For the sake of academic discussion, let us for a moment agree that Nagas must struggle for sovereignty or independence. Now the question arises – how to establish and independent Nagaland and run this nation? First and foremost, as an independent country we should be able to stand on our own legs. Are we in a position to do so? Where do we find the resources to manage the manifold and complex activities that are essential for even the smallest nation? Let us take just a few examples of what an independent country requires:



To be contd.




Popular posts from this blog

CONTEMPORARY MANIPURI SHORT STORIES

Lamyanba Hijam Irabot (Two-article series)

MLA LOCAL AREA DEVELOPMENT FUND IN MANIPUR

‘MANIPURI THEATRE IN A DISAPPOINTING STAGE’: PADMASHREE KANHAILAL (An interview)

ETHNIC CHURNING: CHIKUMI STYLE (WITH A FORWORD FROM THE ARAMBAM SOMORENDRA TRUST)

Importance of 9th January in the History of Manipur

INDIA NEEDS TO RATIFY CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE ASAP

Sovereignty and integrity of Manipur

ARMED FORCES (SPECIAL POWERS) ACT 1958: DISGUISED WAR & ITS SUBVERSIONS