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NSCN (IM) commemorates 74th Naga Plebiscite Day


NSCN (IM) vice-chairmanTongmeth Wangnao said that the day, May 16 in the year 1951, was a “red letter day” in the history of Naga freedom struggle when the Naga Plebiscite was conducted to “reaffirm” the declaration of Naga independence which was announced to the world on August 14, 1947

By Imna Longchar, TFM, Nagaland Correspondent

Commemorating the “Naga Plebiscite Day” after 73 years, the NSCN (IM) on Thursday observed its 74th Naga Plebiscite Day at its General Headquarters (GHq) Church, Hebron, in the presence of its general secretary Th Muivah, a nonagenarian now who has contributed 60 years of his service for the Naga “nation”.

Muivah was present till the end of the more than 3-hour-long programme despite his deteriorating health conditions.

NSCN (IM) vice-chairman, Tongmeth Wangnao, in his address said that the day, May 16 in the year 1951, was a “red letter day” in the history of Naga freedom struggle when the Naga Plebiscite was conducted to “reaffirm” the declaration of Naga independence which was announced to the world on August 14, 1947.

He said that it was the day the Nagas portrayed themselves “loud and clear” with their “thumb impressions” where 99 percent of the Nagas voted for a sovereign “Naga nation” which according to him was the occasion of an episode, that was of more than making a “striking statement” on Naga independence but was the most powerful symbol of Naga people’s inalienable right for sovereignty.

On this, Wangnao said, it not only represents the virtues of being Nagas but also ignited the flame of the “irreversible political identity” of the Nagas as a “sovereign nation”.

Asking his “countrymen” to let the “historical truth” be told as to why the Nagas under the banner of the Naga National Council (NCC) took the crucial steps to conduct the Naga Plebiscite, Tongmeth Wangnao, urged to recollect words of the then NNC president, late AZ Phizo, that read “We are here today to reaffirm the stand of our Naga nation that we do need India and we do not want her. We are here today to prove to India and the world that Nagaland is united and that our nation aspires to the same conviction to continue to be independent as a distinct nation as we have always been the sovereign national state of the Nagas”.

Stating that the Nagas as a “nation” was declared on August 14, 1947, a day before India got her Independence the next day, August 15, Tongmeth Wangnao said that it should be known that the Nagas came into existence as a “free nation” since time immemorial without any pressure from the outside world which is a fact that the origins of political geography lie in the origins of human geography itself which meant that from the very beginning Nagas are “politically” a distinct nation with each village as a “republic” with sovereign authority.

Pointing out that naturally, the Nagas were against any kind of intrusion/incursions and domination over their sovereign right (s), he added that accordingly, the Nagas zealously guarded against the misadventure of alien forces like the “Shans from the east and others” and when the British intruded into the Naga territory, they went through a horrible time in the hands of the ferocious Angami warriors which is no less a show of Naga nationalism for the love of their “mother country”.

Though it sent “shockwaves against the forces that dared to test the nerves of the Nagas”, Wangnao articulated that Naga peoples’ allegiance to the Naga nationhood is the dynamism of the Naga culture, the passion for political freedom and independence which are intrinsically linked and had been the motivating factor that drives the Naga political movement.

He further went on to add that the “most damning act of betrayal” against the Nagas came when the government of India (GoI) committed a breach of agreement where In 1949, Gopinath Bordoloi, the then Chief Minister of Assam admitted that the Government of India no longer hold the Nine-Point Agreement valid and invited the Nagas to join the Union of India, to the Nagas rubbing salt in the wound for which the Nagas rejected the offer outrightly and resorted to taking legitimate steps as the only way to find solution to a fundamental political problem.

It was also informed that on January 24, 1950, the NNC informed the Indian Government, the United Nations, and those countries that had their embassies in Delhi that the Nagas do not accept the Indian suzerainty, and to lend legitimacy to its claim as independent nation as declared on August 14, 1947, NNC took a critical decision to organize a Naga Voluntary Plebiscite and accordingly, informed the Government of India on January 1, 1951, in no uncertain that there is no going back on plebiscite as scheduled.

NNC President AZ. Phizo informed the President of India to send their observers to bear witness to the whole process of the plebiscite from beginning to end. and after which the “Plebiscite” was held on May 16, 1951, which saw multitudes of people never witnessed in the history of the Nagas and turned out to be a landslide victory for the Nagas as the tabulated results showed 99.9 percent of Nagas who favoured for sovereign independent Naga State.

Taking a bold stand, NNC delegates met the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on March 11, 1952 to convey the sovereign will of the Naga people for an independent Naga State as expressed through the Naga Plebiscite. The government of India determined to throttle the bona fide standing of the Naga political rights went for the shameless act of defiance by imposing Indian State elections on the Nagas. When the Nagas boycotted both the 1952 and 1957 General Elections, India used violence that attacks the human dignity of the Nagas.

During the Indo-Naga political dialogue, NSCN leaders led by Chief Negotiator, Th Muivah, spotlighted the declaration of Naga Independence and Plebiscite based on solid historical foundations and ultimately, the government of India (GoI) accepted the historical truths that the Nagas were in existence with sovereign identity as a nation.

Accordingly, the NSCN (IM) vice-chairman, Tongmeth Wangnao, furthered that two agreements were signed:

(i) Amsterdam Joint Communique of July 11, 2002, that recognizes the unique history of the Nagas and the political situation.

(ii) Framework Agreement of August 3, 2015 that recognize the bona fide status of the Nagas with sovereign rights.

Later, he said that as the NSCN (IM) observes the Naga Plebiscite in consonance with the recognized unique history of the Nagas and Framework Agreement, after 73 years, it has to be put on record that the inalienable rights of the Nagas to be a sovereign nation, thus, the sovereign rights of the Nagas rights as flaunted on May 16, 1951, would continue to remain imprinted indelibly in the “psyche” of the Nagas.

NSCN (IM) Deputy Ato Kilonser, “Lieut Gen (Retd)” VS Atem, in his address said that since time immemorial, Nagas has nothing in common with the Indians either in polity, history, custom, culture, habits, or languages, as India basically composes of two major races ie Hindus and Muslims but the Nagas as Mongoloids as an “enemy” were an “opportunist” as two people, the Indians and the Nagas have no connection at any sense till the advent of the Britishers wherein the Indian Congress adopted a resolution for “total independence” which was kept in abeyance till date.

He retrospect that it was in the year 1941, the then Indian Congress Party launched the “Quit India Movement” which Atem said was a “contrast” the Nagas and the Indians which accordingly is mentioned in the annals of history.

VS Atem also went on to add that the Nagas were and are proud of their “national leaders” of the Naga National Council (NNC) who had taken the right step (s) with total conviction and a vison to convey a clear message to the Indian government that Plebiscite of a “Naga Nation” was conducted on May 16, 1951, and the same decision was informed to the government of India (GoI) on January 1, nearly five months in advance.

Observation of the 74th Naga Plebiscite Day at the GHQ Church, Hebron, also saw many past and present Naga leaders and intellectuals including the students’ bodies and other CSOs drawn from different states of the northeastern states who shared their vocals on the very significance of the day.

The programme chaired by GPRN Kilonser, NL Raikham, started with an invocation prayer by general secretary, CNC, Rev Seksim Kasar, welcome addressed was delivered by MC, VC, Longvibu, Naga Army, Gen Ningkhan Shimray, while Maj (Retd) Hutovi Chishi, CLM, convener, organizing committee, thanked the attendees, and head chaplain, Naga Army, Col PH Daniel, MSM, pronounced the benediction.

The gatherings were also enthralled with special songs by the GHq, Naga Army, church choir, and others.

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