General (Retd) Thinoselie M Keyho
President, Naga National Council
My dear citizens of Nagaland,
Today, we have stepped into the 73rd year since the Naga people put their thumb impressions in favour of Naga Sovereignty in that historic Voluntary Plebiscite Day on 16th May, 1951. On the occasion of celebrating the 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day today, I convey my heartfelt greetings and best wishes to all our Naga people wherever they may be. Let us give thanks to God, the Almighty for piloting us throughout to come this far.
On this auspicious occasion, I am appealing to the conscience of all the Naga people, particularly the elite group to look back with seriousness that we have come this far due to the National Movement under the Naga National Political Institution of ‘Naga National Council’ (NNC) which was formed in 1946 based on the commitment made in the Memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929 which recorded the truth that Nagas are not Indians and the Naga area is not within the Indian Union.
Let us refresh our mind with what Jawaharlal Nerhu, the first Prime Minister of India said on 19th August, 1946 in connection with the proposal of Robert Reid for creation of Crown Colony, “the tribal areas are defined as being those long frontiers of India which are neither part of India nor Burma, nor Indian States nor of any foreign power. “ This statement itself has confirmed that Nagas are not Indians and their land is not within the Indian Union.
Why a Voluntary Plebiscite was called for?
When the British Government was about to leave this part of the Globe, Nagas have declared their Independence on 14th August, 1947, one day ahead of Indian Independence, and cabled it to the UN which UN acknowledged and filed it. But Indian Government without least regards to the historical facts forcefully occupied the areas which were earlier under the then British Government including Nagaland. Therefore, the Naga National Council, under the leadership of the Father of the Nation, A.Z Phizo, in order to demonstrate their stand clear to the Indian people and to the world, decided to conduct a voluntary Plebiscite. And in this Voluntary Plebiscite, Nagas have proved their stand to the world beyond doubt by voting 99.9% in favour of Naga Sovereignty. And through this Plebiscite, Naga people had given their mandate to the Naga National Council which remains the cornerstone of the National Movement.
On that Plebiscite Day itself, NNC declared that ‘Naga people want peace, Naga people do not want war and they do not want their children to live in battlefields. ‘ They have also made it clear to the Indian brothers and sisters that ‘Nagas are not their enemy. ‘ They were only putting across their right democratically that they are not Indians.
In spite of repeatedly proving our stand as free people beyond doubt, the Indian Government again imposed their first Parliamentary General Elections of 1952 in Nagaland but that was totally rejected by the Naga people on the ground that Nagas are not Indians. In fact, India should feel ashamed for their act of moral violation of conscience.
We all know that 16 Point Agreement was a mischievous deed which was done by deception because the so called agreement was done without the NNC/FGN with absolute mandate for whom the agreement was proposed. Therefore, the agreement brought more bloodshed to the Nagas. Should the Indian Government takes this as an agreement, why entered into so many agreements again like the Ceasefire Agreement of 1964, the infamous ‘Shillong Accord' of 1975, the ‘Framework Agreement’ of 2015 and the ‘Agreed Position’ of 2017? How many agreements Indian Government will propose to enter into for solving just one political problem?
Nagas are one nation and people but why we have too many factions today. In a way Nagas have to blame ourselves to some extent but for the real reason behind the screen is we are fragmented into many factions and still some of such talk going on is due to the ‘divide and rule' policy of the Government of India. It will be our ill luck if Nagas do not realise this play. The Indian leaders bitterly criticised the British Government Policy of ‘divide and rule' during their pre- Independence period, but today, the Indian secret agencies are playing the same game with the Nagas which they have copied from the Britishers.
It is high time for the Naga leaders to retrospect and reason together and rally under the banner of NNC again to salute the past glories of our patriots and warriors and move forward together for the fulfillment of our aspiration for Naga Sovereignty.
Let me conclude by reminding our people with what NNC President, A. Z. Phizo says in his Plebiscite Day speech at Kohima on 16th May 1951- “We want to make our country a place of happiness, of security and of rest. We hope and we cherish that we can make our country a meeting place of the East and an understanding centre of the world. Above anything else, we want to be free as a distinct nation and we shall be free.”
May God Bless the Naga people. Kuknalim.