A recap of the first days of December over the past decade
Morung Express Feature News
2006: December 1 was marred by physical assault of two youths by suspected underground cadres just two days after a similar incident where a senior Naga Hoho official was tortured, beaten and robbed by unidentified gunmen in Kohima. Governor Shyamal Dutta spoke at the inaugural program of Hornbill Festival before his tenure ended. Nagaland and Commissioner & Secretary Tourism was Khekiye K. Sema
2007: The Morung Express began working with People living with HIV/AIDS designing a committed campaign around World AIDS Day on December 1. Kihoto Hollohon resigned from the NPF party and withdrew support from the DAN government under Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. The seven days Hornbill festivities saw the inauguration of the Hornbill Music Festival at Kisama by British High Commissioner for Eastern India, Simon Wilson.
2008: Neiphiu Rio said at the inauguration that the Government of India has “recognized” Hornbill Festival as a “national event.” He also said the event was a joint venture of the Nagaland State government and the Naga tribes. In far away Patkai Christian College, even as examinations were underway, the Assam Rifles engaged in an armed stand-off with the NSCN (IM) near the College despite 11 years of ceasefire. The NSF led civil society negotiations to resolve the situation.
2009: Hornbill Festival given the title ‘Festival of Festivals’. All states from the North East participated under the aegis of the North East Zone Cultural Centre alongside countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Korea and Japan.
2010: December 11 saw ‘Advent Football’ between the Naga Political Groups and the Forum for Naga Reconciliation captained by C Singson and Dr. Atso Venuh respectively. Violence was on its way down.
2011: 48 years of Nagaland statehood. Government of Nagaland earmarked Rs. 2 crore for the 7-days Hornbill Festival. Governor Nikhil Kumar credited Neiphiu Rio with “conceptualization” of the Hornbill Festival. However, the festival was originally conceptualized by the Naga civil society as the Naga Week (for Naga people from all areas—Nagas Without Borders, so to speak) from December 1-5, 1993, held in Kohima in commemoration of the International Year of World’s Indigenous Peoples. Neingulo Krome was convener. It declared the Naga peoples’ right to live as one people.
2012: Hornbill Festival held under the theme ‘Unity’ to conform to the efforts of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation to bring Naga national groups together. Olympian Chekrovolü Swuro, musician Nise Meruno and entrepreneur Atouzo Neihule received Young Naga Achievers’ Award.
2013: Then President Pranab Mukherjee looked downright awkward adorned head to toe in Naga gear as he became main attraction at the 50th Statehood day celebrations cum Hornbill Festival inauguration. SC Jamir and Neiphiu Rio shared a stage thanks to him. Rio calls for 16 points agreement to be honoured in letter and spirit. Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization reiterated demand for Frontier Nagaland. People living with HIV/AIDS continued to be plagued by shortage of Opportunistic Infection medicines and struggled with breakdown of the CD 4 machine.
2014: Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a grand welcome. He declared the North East region as a ‘Natural Economic Zone’. While promising 365x24x7 electricity, which is a far cry for Nagaland, he left a bewildered and dejected audience in his wake. No financial package was announced for Nagaland State. He ended his speech with Kuknalim. Some newspapers boycotted the Hornbill Festival due to nonpayment of bills by the Nagaland State Government.
2015: Governor PB Acharya made reference to the Framework Agreement between NSCN (IM) and GoI, signed on August 3 that year, during the Hornbill inaugural program. He termed it a ‘respectful reconciliation’ of Naga peoples’ aspirations with the larger vision of India. Chief Minister TR Zeliang called for unity among the people for an early and acceptable solution to Naga issue. Several citizens told The Morung Express that there is no reason to celebrate Statehood Day given the condition of the State.
2016: Amidst demonetization pangs, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam comes for inaugural show of Hornbill Festival—invoked Ahom-Naga relations of yore. A massive fake tree with fake fake hornbills continues as an ‘art’ installation at the Kisama Naga Heritage Village. PLHIV demand an additional CD4 machine in the state, with the State Government promising one soon.