Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7
Gen (Rtd) Thinoselie M Keyho
President, Naga National Council
Fellow citizens of Nagaland,
Today, on the occasion of the celebration of the 77th Naga Independence Day (76thAnniversary), I convey my warm greetings to all my country men in general and, in particular, to those of you who are gathering at Kutsapo village in observance of the day. On this auspicious occasion, I salute the Naga patriots who, in defence of their people and their land, sacrificed their lives in the struggle against the invasion of the Indian Army into our land beginningfrom1953.
The Naga political struggle is the longest political struggle in the world today which covers more than seven decades now. During this period, we have lost so many precious lives and properties; the Naga people suffered untold miseries which were never known even to the Indian masses for a long time, not to speak of the outside world. Infact, those of us who had gone through those nightmares feel agitated when we recall the events of those days. It was nothing but madness all around. All of us are aware that even today; tire journalists are not free to roam in Nagaland like in any other parts of the country. In the early days, Naga area was completely locked to the outside world. The Indian Army experimented all savage methods of torturing and killing the Naga people. To me, the treatments meted out to the Naga people those days by the Indian army may not be of much difference from the treatment of their captives by the Nazis in their concentration camps during the Second World War.
B.N.Mulich, Chief Intelligent Bureau of India, had written a book entitled"My Years with Nehru" (1948-'64). This book confirmed many of our stories which the Indian Government denied terming our stories as false allegations. This book is, more or less, the record of the Indian Intelligent Bureau. It says about these days, "There was nearly one security troop for every adult Naga in the Naga Hills Tuensang Area." (page313). Also "Troops moved into Tuensang by October 1955, and the war with the Nagas started then." (page308). In spite of all these happenings in Nagaland, nobody knew what was going on in Nagaland those days.
Gavin Young, a British journalist who sneaked into Nagaland through Burma in the year 1961 termed the war in Nagaland as 'The Unknown War'. According to his account, he walked five days in the jungle in Burma to reach a Naga Home Guard camp in Nagaland, because it was impossible to come to the Naga area through India.He spent 18 days with the Naga Home Guards. During his stay, he had seen himself the Dakota plane which was shot down by the Naga Home Guards. He met and listened to the captive pilots and crews of Indian Air Force DC.3. The pilots and crews were given very good treatment by the Nagas and later on released from Burma through International Red Cross Society at a time when the Naga people were still continuing to suffer untold miseries in the hands of the Indian army.
By the grace of God, the Almighty, the Naga people survived all these terrible onslaughts. We are grateful to Him for his mercy and, therefore, we have to uphold our commitment "Nagaland for Christ" in letter and spirit till the end. I want to assure my people that all sufferings and sacrifices made by the Naga people will not go in vain.
Naga people have deep sentimental attachment to their 'Unique history'. It is, therefore, important that we reiterate the important events that created our unique history in the journey of our struggle against the alien forces.
The first documentation record of our unique history is the memorandum submitted to the Simon Commission by the Naga Club on 10th January, 1929 at Kohima. This event is taken as the starting point of our Independence movement in which Naga leaders made it amply clear to the Commission that Nagas are not Indians and Naga area is not part of India. Therefore, in their memorandum, they write, "…we pray that we should not be thrust to the mercy of the people who could never subjugate us, but to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times." In fact, Nagas had never been dominated by plainsmen or had they ever been part of India before the advent of the British. They have nothing in common with India racially, culturally, linguistically etc. The result of the visit of the Simon Commission thus kept that small portion of Naga area under British rule that time outside the Reformed Scheme of India Act, 1935.
Since then, based on the foundation laid down by the Naga Club, the political consciousness among the Naga people had grown fast and with that the Naga people started consolidating their political position year by year and finally given the nomenclature Naga National Council to their movement in 1946. NNC adopted the policy of "Non-violence and Non-co¬operation" from the very beginning and, therefore, it also appreciates the Gandhian philosophy of non¬-violence.
By that time, it was eminent that the British were leaving India without giving any thought to the wishes and the rights of the Naga people which, the Naga people knew, would result in serious confrontation in future between India and the Nagas. Therefore, in order to avoid confrontation, NNC did it's best even to the extent of agreeing to an interim arrangement for 10 years through Akbar Hydari Agreement with India as the guardian power. But that agreement also failed because at the end, the Indian Government threatened the Naga people that they would use force if Nagas refuse to join the Indian union. Thus, the matter ended there.
On 14th August, 1947, the Naga National Council hoisted the Naga Flag to declare the Naga Independence for the first time, one day ahead of India's Independence. This declaration made our stand clear to the Indians as well as to the world communities that Nagas are not Indians and Nagaland is not part of India. After declaration of Independence on 14'1' August, 1947, it was cabled to the Secretary General of the United Nations in the following words:
• Kindly put on Record that Nagas will Be Independent
• Discussion with India are being Carried on to the Effect
• Nagas do not accept Indian Constitution.
• The Right of the People must Prevail Regardless of Size.
• Naga National Council.
(This message was acknowledged by UN and record is both in UN and NNC's files)" — (Naga Chronicle, page 121.)
When India attained her Independence on 15th August, 1947, she occupied all the territory formerly embraced by the British Government under its rule including the Naga area. AZ Phizo, the President of the Naga National Council, therefore, went ahead with a man to conduct a voluntary plebiscite to prove to the world the stand of the Naga. NNC informed Government of India to send their representatives to be present on that day to see by themselves the result of the voluntary plebiscite. On 16th May, 1951, a voluntary plebiscite was held at Kohima and the ultimate result was 99.9% voted in favour of Naga Sovereignty. Plebiscite photos had shown that Indian representatives were also present on that day.
We have come to know from BN Mulich's book that the first Naga People's Convention of 1957 was the brainchild of SM Dutt, who was then the Deputy Director of IB Shillong. "Dutt tried to pick up the old threads and pressed on the moderate Naga leaders his idea of a convention of the representatives of the various tribes to nullify the resolution of plebiscite…" (page 315) but his plan failed miserably.
This 1951 Plebiscite is important to us as a unique history. I am happy to see the observance of 'Plebiscite Day' by NNC this year at Yorübama Village in which more than 5000 delegates attended from different parts of Nagaland. We are against violence in any form but we caution the politicians and public leaders to be more careful in future not to make attempt to twist or misinterpret the fact about our unique history.
To sum up, submission of a memorandum to the Simon Commission on 10th January in 1929 by the Naga Club; declaration of Naga Independence Day on 14th August, 1947 and the conduct of a voluntary plebiscite on May 16, 1951 are, among others, the unique history of the Nagas.
NNC owns this unique history of the Nagas. There will be no compromise and no one will be allowed to hijack this unique history of the Nagas. I want to send out a special appeal to all my former colleagues who are now in different camps to rally together again under the slogan, "Nagas are one nation, one people" under the banner of Naga National Council.
I wish the observance of the Naga Independence Day at Kutsapo village today a grand success. This will go down to the annals of Naga history as a living witness.
Long Live Naga National Council