Brig. (Retd) S Singnya
Kedahge, Federal Government of Nagaland
My dear Countrymen & women,
It is a great privilege to address you on this Historic Day. I warmly greet you on behalf of all the ranks and file of the NNC/FGN. It was on this historic day in 1947 that our pioneers and visionary leaders took the momentous decision to proclaim the aspirations of the Naga people and declared our freedom and independence to the world. We are grateful to our Almighty God for the guidance, protection and sustenance throughout all these years of our struggle for an honourable existence and a rightful place as a Nation among the Nations of the world.
Naga Nationalism is essentially a movement for the restoration of our political and historical rights. Nagas as fierce lovers of freedom and equality, our aspiration has always been for self determination; we do not covet what is not ours but we will keep what is rightfully ours. The political history of the Nagas first started with the resistance of the British colonizers and later with Indian imperialism. The Naga people for many decades have been fighting for a free homeland and resisting the oppressive occupational forces of India and Myanmar on our land ever since the British colonial empire left the Indian sub-continent. Since the British Government remained silent on the Nagas’ right to self-determination at the time of its departure from the Indian sub-continent, the Naga National Council (NNC) after informing the top Indian leaders of the time, declared Naga Independence on 14th August 1947, a day ahead of India’s declaration of independence. To augment this declaration, the NNC conducted the Plebiscite on 16th May, 1951 wherein 99.9% voted for Sovereignty. And ever since its establishment, the Federal Government of Nagaland has always stood for the restoration of “the historical and political rights of the Nagas.”
When India sent thousands of troops to forcefully occupy the Naga territories being aware that the Nagas would not willingly join the Indian Union, the massive deployment unleashed intolerable sufferings on our people. They intruded our homes, persecuted and tortured our people without any valid reasons, our women were abused and molested, willfully destroyed our goods and properties and injured and killed many of our people. Because of all these excesses, the Nagas were compelled to rise up with arms against the Indians. The Government of India also introduced several oppressive laws and acts like the Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act, etc. and these Draconian Laws continue to be imposed and enforced in our land by the so called biggest democracy in the world.
The Nagas as a people and as a nation have an ardent desire to live in peace and harmony and have always sought to live in peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. Thus for Peace to prevail and for a peaceful resolution of the Indo-Naga political issue, the Federal Government of Nagaland actively participated and concluded the political dialogue with Government of India as an entity of the NNPGs Working Committee to arrive at a political settlement which is honourable and mutually acceptable. However even after a lapse of more than three years of concluding the Political dialogues on 31st October 2019, the final inking of the agreement remains. The lackadaisical attitude of the GoI makes us to wonder whether India is genuinely concerned about resolving the Indo-Naga political issue and Whether India is prepared to be honest with her commitments. History has made us doubt the sincerity of GoI. Our ancestors were honourable people and their words used to be their law. The British recognized this custom and treated the Nagas as honourable people. Despite several conflicts and agreements between the two, no written document was necessitated. And so we respected each other for what each was. But when the Indian leaders made the first agreement with the Nagas, they neither honoured our customs nor their promises. We had to make a written agreement - the 9 point agreement (Hydari agreement). Even after getting written assurance from the representatives of the GoI, a letter signed by Bordoloi and Hydari themselves, the agreement never saw the light of day.
Successive Indian leaders have failed to uphold even the promises made to the Nagas by their most venerated leaders like Gandhi and Rajagopalachari. These have made us to wonder what we are up against, a people whose honour is questionable. To cite few instances – India never honoured the Hydari agreement; India betrayed the Peace Mission of 1964; India divided the Nagas even after her promise to bring the Nagas under one political umbrella; India is not even serious about her commitments to the 16 point agreement in all important matters. We are also aware that the conflict between the Nagas and India could have been resolved long ago had the Government of India been really sincere in trying to resolve it. The GoI in the past has instead of seeking permanent solution rather has basically succeeded in prolonging the problem by manipulating the situations as and when desired by her. It is up to the Government of India whether to restore faith or make a mockery of the Indian System of Democracy. While we expect India to live up to her world image as the largest Democracy in the world and hope to see India become a self-respecting and honourable country, at the same time, we Nagas, as a Nation of trustworthy and honourable people have the moral strength to stand, wait and watch as we firmly believe that what is rightfully ours cannot be crushed by power or might.
The Nagas as a people were known for our culture of hard work, honesty and integrity. Corruptions, thefts and crimes were practically non-existent; as such policing much less jails or prisons did not exist. However, in recent times our good cultural practices and values are gradually being eroded and replaced by alien ones after coming into contact and subsequent long association with the other people. Corruption, frauds, dishonesty, etc, practices alien to our ancestors have become the norm. Today it is very painful to observe that our beautiful land with a history of hard work and honesty has become famous for all the wrong reasons, one of the places with the highest corruption. With alien practices becoming the norm coupled with materialism, a big threat to our identity, culture and civilization has also emerged, posed by the danger of the alien cultural and religious practices of the overwhelming majority of the Indian population being imposed on our people who have the possibility of entirely wiping out our identity, culture and our civilization. We as a people and as a Nation have to be alert and be watchful that this does not happen and at the same time be prepared to resist with all our might to defend our identity and preserve our culture and religious practices
As we celebrate the Historic Day, we also celebrate with pride and fondly remember the contributions and sacrifices of the patriots who selflessly gave their lives for the Nation and the patriots who selflessly chose to bear the hardships and sufferings in the pursuit of the long cherished dream. I join the nation in paying my homage to all those martyrs and patriots who are no more with us today. I warmly congratulate all the recipients of the awards and special commendations for their dedication and commitment.
God bless us all.