25th Anniversary of the Funeral of AZ Phizo

A People with a History are a People at Peace with itself. The Happiness Level of a People depends on many factors. This Graveyard is a place of Reverence, of Peace and a Heritage for the people, the present and the future.
At the very outset, it is set on record that this Graveyard is not for the extension of any Political Group. It was organized by a Funeral Organizing Committee (FOC), selected by an unprecedented crowd of Naga Public that packed the Naga Club Building and its premises on the morning of 1st May of 1990 for the Funeral of A.Z. Phizo, the accepted Father figure of the Naga People.
From the very beginning, in conformity with the majority Faith of the Nagas; it was not thought to raise a life-size figure of Art Work in the likeness of the Man, in Stone or in Metal.
In the tradition of the Nagas, Stone speaks a universal language timelessly, and this Stone represent the Heritage of that language to all.
President of the Naga National Council, Mr. A. Z. Phizo passed away quietly and peacefully in his house in Bromley in London on 30 April 1990.
After the News reached the family members at Kohima, it spread like wild fire all over in the City from person to person by words of mouth. Everywhere people were shocked to learn the news; they were perplexed as to what to do or what to say. The atmosphere of the city was charged and tense; the sky seemed to fall; the people were aghast. Human Words could not adequately describe the peculiar atmosphere.
Then News spread that a Meeting will be held at the Naga Club Building at 10 AM on 1st May. Nagas packed into the small Naga Club Building and filled all the spaces around it.
Mr. Tobu Periatsü Kevichüsa, the General Secretary of the NNC Presided over the Meeting. He did not mince words. He precisely spoke a short Speech that his organization has not the proper channel of communication with the Government to work out the modalities to bring the remains of the President to Nagaland, nor do they have the means to arrange the necessary finances. ‘But’, he said: ‘since the Naga People regards Phizo as their Father figure, his Organization hands over the responsibility of bringing the mortal remains of the Leader, to the Naga Public’.
So said, Tobu vacated the Chair.
Then Speakers after Speakers vowed Phizo’s Body will be brought to Nagaland sooner or later. Every speaker said his body will not be buried in a foreign land that it will surely be brought to our native land for burial. Someone even said ‘his body will be brought to Nagaland by hook or by crook’!
Since everyone were saying the same thing, someone wisely suggested that time should not be lost further in everyone saying the same thing and that a Committee be immediately formed to bring the Body to our land.
Immediately a Committee was set up with the responsibility to raise a Public Fund for the purpose of bringing the body to Nagaland.
The four major Naga Tribes -Angami, Ao, Sema and Lotha- immediately were to please raised Rs. 1,00,000/- each early the very next morning. The Nagaland Contractors Union also was requested for contribution of Rs. 50,000/-. The Sema, the Angami and the Ao Communities deposited their donations soon and later the Chakhesangs and the Changs also gave Rs. 1,00,000/- each; the Contractor Union donated Rs. 30,000/- .
Many other Organizations including the Government of Nagaland and non-Nagas also contributed to the Public Fund.
All together an amount of Rs.16,00,000/- Lakhs finally came to the Fund out of which an amount of Rs.1,00,000/- each were returned to the Sema and Chang Communities on their own request.
It was thought, in the fitness of things, that a well known Reverend may be the Chairman of the Funeral Organizing Committee to which Rev. V.K. Nuh was selected. The Chairman with some others thought it necessary to represent the Funeral Committee immediately and proceeded to Delhi to arrange for the Exchange of the British Pound. In this, Rajmohan Gandhi, the Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and his friend Niketu Iralu provided vital help in procuring the exchanged amount and Visas very quickly for the Members. In those times it took months to get the rupee exchanged and Visa obtained.
In London, it necessitated more than several days to arrange for the various Medical and Official Papers for the transportation of the dead body of the Leader by Air.
The then Indian High Commissioner to UK, Mr. Kuldip Nayar in his great graciousness provided the necessary communication to take the dead body of the Naga Leader to his native Land for burial. The remains of the Naga Leader were finally brought to Dimapur on 10th May 1990 afternoon.
Suddenly as the Chartered Russian Plane was landing in the Air Port at Dimapur, a Rainbow mystically appeared in the Sky to the triumphant Naga yelling of thousands upon thousands of Citizens of all kinds of people waiting impatiently at the Airport.
The Cortege proceeded to Kohima with the Coffin draped in the Naga National Flag -Rain Bow on a Blue background-  and Naga Warriors in traditional Dress and Spears on Guard in a new Mini Tata vehicle never before used for any other purposes with the Khonoma Baptist Church Pastor Keriu Mor and Kevisiezolie Suohu, the Transport in Charge, FOC at the Driver’s side, moved at snails pace through the National Highway, crowded with Villagers in lighted Candles on the sides to pay their last Reverence to the Man who led them for so many years.
By the time the funeral procession neared the outskirts of Kohima, it was night and the head lights of the Vehicles accompanying the Cortege, in the Curves and the Corners of the Road, became impossible to count; their number being too great.
In Kohima, both sides of the Street were jam packed with crowd, many in burned out Candles, in pin drop silence; and not a single urchin, nor a single stray dog, crossed the Road. Such disciplined crowd was never before seen.
Mrs. Geweni Phizo, for more than a generation of struggling Nagas, has not seen the face of her husband who has given his whole life in the Service of his people. Therefore the FOC decided that she should be united with her husband for the last time in their own private Home at the Mission Compound, Kohima.
The Body was directly taken to their home and laid there for 2 hrs. At12 O’clock midnight, it was taken to the Local Ground -with Naga National Flag for once flying on a lofty Post- to enable the pressing Public to see the face of their revered Leader and file past in final Respect.
Kohima had never before seen the size of crowd that packed the Football Ground during the funeral Service of A.Z. Phizo in such solemn silence. The City will perhaps never ever see the likes of such huge crowd in pin drop silence again. The Queue of people to file past the Casket stretched to thousands of Meters on both ends of the Ground Gates. From dawn to 4 o’clock in the afternoon of 11 May 1990, there was no end to the queue line. Student Volunteers at last had to gently nudge the people in the line past the Casket at the count of every third Second!
Mr. Chalie Kevichüsa, latterly selected Secretary of the FOC Chaired the Funeral Service; the Executive Secretary of the NBCC Rev. Ponsing Konyak invoked the Blessings of God and a hundred Voices Choir of the Khedi Baptist Church sang a most inspiring song: ‘He hided my Soul in the cleft of the Rock’ , a favorite of Late Zapuphizo. A few prominent Persons necessarily spoke, of which J.P. Misra, a Gandhian Social Worker from UP and a great admirer of late A.Z. Phizo, accompanied the dead body from London to Kohima on his own account and spoke most supportively of the Naga Leader.
A little after the 4 in the evening of a perfect sunny day, finally the Body was taken to the Graveyard at the new Secretariat site and laid to rest.
Thepfulhouvi Solo