Thepfulhouvi Solo, IFS (Retd)
I always greatly liked Kuldip Nayar’s very fine Articles in the Nagaland Post. I saw deep and true democracy in his writings. Kuldip Nayar, not only respected democracy, he is democracy itself and he gave it to all. Man like Kuldip Nayar, great inside, less rhetoric outside are precious Gift of God to the People, such persons are met only once in seven 7 generations of men. I am sure what he wrote is the man. He upheld sound conscience and justice everywhere, chided great and small with purposeful and profound democracy with magnanimity.
Two and half decades ago, one evening, a Naga youth I did now know of, on an errand, brought a big elderly Indian man, with his shirt a little loose fitting, of coarse material, to my Official Residences at Kohima, it was already dark. The man was down to earth natural, without any trace of assumed air or petty ceremonies and he said he is Kuldip Nayar, the former High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom as a way of introduction.
He said he has come to Kohima to discuss about Naga politics with the Nagas and straightway said, “It would be best for the Nagas to have Federation with India”.
His low definite words rang true, real and feeling, but since I was only a government official, Principal Chief Conservator in the Government, I felt a little hesitant to discuss Political matters suddenly with an unknown Indian in my house. He could be on an intelligence mission as it happens sometimes in Nagaland. Therefore, I said, “I am just an officer in the Government and it would not be proper to discuss Politics in my house”.
After some time, I called in the errand youth and advised him to take the man to such and such Persons.
Kuldip Nayar left my house as natural as he came in.
Long after that, the NNC executives requested some elderly Persons in the society and some Officers to help them hold a function on 16th June in an important way, in celebration of the anniversary of Naga Plebiscite Day and the 100th anniversary day of the birth of recently died President Zapuphizo, the day fell on a Sunday. The non-NNC members suggested that the programs be a Public one, not specifically NNC only. The NNC wanted just such a one and so the meeting decided to have the celebration.
A Working Committee resulted and it first approached the Chief Minister Nagaland, apprised him of our Agenda and a requested for his Government’s goodwill and support. The Chief Minister was very happy that responsible Elderly people are programming the celebratation and that he would very gladly attend the function with this Cabinet and would inform even the Officers to honor the occasion. He promised he would help fund the program.
The Committee generated considerable enthusiasm for the celebration in Kohima and it sent invitation to important Organizations, Churches and Persons including many who thought themselves as somebody.
The President of the Women Organization of Manipur, Late Chief Minister Jasokie, Hollohon former Minister, Rev. Lorin Rengma Oldest Reverend in the Nagaland Baptist Church Council, Mrs. Khrieleno Terhüja, the first Naga woman to pass BD and lastly but most importantly, Kuldip Nayar, were listed to speak on the occasion. I sent an email to him; he promptly acknowledged it, expressing great enthusiasm to attend.
It was the time of zenith of firepower of the undivided NSCN, who issued an Ultimatum to the Committee to stop the celebration “because the NSCN Government does not recognize 16th June as Phizo’s date of birth”. They abducted Kaka Iralu, the Spokesperson of the Committee from the APO Hall and came in force to the House to abduct me, the Committee Convener, but I refused and God protected me.
But most of the proposed Speakers and the VIPs from top to bottom including Reverends and Pastors did not attend the meeting in view of the warning of the NSCN in the New Papers, except the Chairperson of the Manipur Woman Association President. The IM exploded two bombs from under the seat of the football ground she was speaking in Manipuri, later translated. Luckily, no one was injured and the affected crowd only changed their seat and the Meeting continued.
The other woman who defied the IM dictate not to attend the Meeting was Mrs. Leno Terhüja who replied her opponent saying, “Nobody can stop her from any place to pray to God”.
Most Naga look at mainland Indians through their lenses of their experiences of the Indian Army’s treatment of the Naga people for many years; the picture is not a very friendly one.
There are however a few Indians who have shown great understanding for the Nagas. Of them, Kuldip Nayar was one of the foremost including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajmohan Gandhi of the ones I know of.
Rajmohan Gandhi attended a meeting at Zonal Council Hall, Kohima where many Nagas were gathered and Mr. Tobu Periatscü, General Secretary of the NNC asked the Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi,
“What should the Nagas do for India to consider the Naga struggle for Independence?”
Rajmohan replied that the Nagas should be united. Tobu replied the Nagas hunted each others head from very early time but on the question of Independence they are all united.
Rajmohan then asked, “And what do you think India can do for the Naga Independence?”
Tobu replied loudly, “Get out of Nagaland!”
Rajmohan replied, “I am getting out tomorrow, I have already sent for my Air Ticket!” at that everybody in the Hall laughed loudly, Tobu the loudest!
Many Nagas ruefully remember Jowaharlal Nehru for their total boycott of his public Meeting at Kohima Ground on 31st March 1953 and for his saying in anger to Phizo, Imnaonen, Tolhopu and Etsürhomo, the Naga Leaders during their meeting in the Steam Boat at Silghat in the Brahmaputra River near Tezpur. Phizo told Nerhu that Nagas are going to observe Independence and it provoked Nehru. Mr. Imnaonen, Secretary of NNC said, Nehru lost his temper, he thumbed the table with his feast and said,
“Whether heavens fall, or India goes into pieces, blood run red in the country, whether I am here or anybody comes in, Nagas will never get Independence.”
To which Phizo observed, “It seems you are declaring war on the Nagas, but we will not” and that ended the meeting.
However Chubatoshi Jamir, former Governor Goa, Maharstra, and lately Odisha, the last surviving Member of Naga Peoples Conference that signed the 16 Point Agreement with India for the Statehood of Nagaland told me,
“Many Nagas think we got the State of Nagaland very easily, it was not so. Whenever we raise some requirement for Nagaland, the Indian Minister and others would raise objections and difficulties. But every time Nehru would say, “we can discuss it” and would pass over to continue the negotiation. The former Governor vouched, “Nehru always showed great consideration for the Nagas.”
Not a single Naga joined Mahatma Gandhi’s movement of freedom for India, yet the few utterances Gandhi made when Naga Leaders met him at Delhi shows the great man had very considerate attitude for the Naga.
One of the greatest things Kuldip Nayar did for the Nagas was when he was the High Commissioner of India to the UK. He told me the Indian Staff at the UK was not in favor of giving permission to the Naga Delegate to take the dead body of NNC President to Nagaland for burial. He said he told his staff “everywhere people like to burry their leader in their own country. The Naga leader died here and they want to take his body to Nagaland for burial, let them take it”. “It is alright”, he said.