My dear Countrymen,
It is a great privilege and a big honour to address you as the Kedahge of the NNC/FGN on this historic day, the 14th of August 2020. I greet you on behalf of all the ranks and file of the NNC/FGN. On this day in 1947, our pioneers proclaimed our historical and political rights and took the giant step to declare our freedom and independence to the world. Today, we are grateful to our Almighty God for the guidance, protection and sustenance throughout our struggle.
Our ancestors lived with pride and in full freedom knowing that they are free, free as a people and as a nation. In its memorandum submitted to the British Simon Commission in 1929, the Naga Club, the first Naga organization stated its request “…to leave us alone to determine ourselves as in ancient times.” When the status of the Crown colony was offered to the Nagas, the Nagas expressed the desire to remain free but since the British Government remained silent on the Nagas’ right to self-determination at the time of its departure from the Indian sub-continent, Nagas, under the banner of Naga National Council (NNC), declared our Independence on 14th August 1947, a day ahead of India’s declaration of independence which was also made known to the UN. To augment this decision, the NNC organized the Plebiscite in 1951 wherein 99.9% voted for Naga independence. In keeping with this general will to be free, Nagas refused to take part in the first and second general elections of free India which were held respectively in 1952 and 1957. Human arguments and wisdom can never alter the fact that Nagas never wished at any point of time to be part of India.
Our ancestors were honourable people and their words used to be their law. It is shameful and disgraceful to dishonour their words. 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) in 1947. But 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. After exhausting all options and with death threat, the NNC had no option but to go underground following the boycott of Nehru and U Nu at Kohima in 1953.
Nagas did not choose the path of violence but having not other options took up arms to defend the honour and rights of the Nation.
A nation is a Dream. Without a dream, a nation has no soul. Everybody dreams but only the brave and the courageous dare to pursue their dreams. There is no sacrifice greater or nobler than to selflessly give ones live in believing in a dream. We are Nagas, not by choice but by birth and destiny and Naga Nationalism in essence are a movement for restoration of our political and historical rights and not a secessionist movement as termed by our detractors. Three popular slogans inspired and instilled the spirit of Naga Nationalism.
Firstly, Tax or March. There is no middle path to escape the call of the nation without becoming a traitor. It means participation in terms of either providing support or be recruited in the national service.
Secondly, Ten for One, meaning ten households should support one national worker. They do not only provide cash and kinds but also do the cultivation and other related agricultural works for the one who represents the households or clan. Thirdly, Our Land is ours, the foundation of Naga nationalism. We do not covet the land of others but we would keep what is rightfully ours at all cost.
Today, we have reached a very crucial juncture where our decisions and actions can either make or break our history. The making of history needs wisdom and concerted effort and should not be ruled by motion.
We cannot afford to make any mistakes. We should not be dictated by what people think is good for us but we need wisdom from God to be able to formulate what will be best for us. Our past and present must lead us to a future that is secure, prestigious and honourable. If we fail to do so, “we will all perish as fools”. The sacrifices made by those who had given their lives for what they believe to be true and honourable should also not go in vain. We must conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
After many rounds of deliberation, consultation and much thought, the NNC/FGN decided and an entity of the NNPGs has been participating in the political dialogues with GoI since 2017, in order arrive at a political solution which is honourable and mutually acceptable. We took the decision because we believed that violence should end and that we should pave the way for peace to prevail in our beautiful homeland which though not of our making or design, has experienced so much violence and bloodshed. With the passage of time the NNC/FGN hopes that GoI is sincere in its desire and commitment to resolve the more than seven decades old political conflict, though we have not forgotten the bitter experiences with India in the past. To cite few instances, India never honoured the Hydari Agreement of 1947; India betrayed the Ceasefire Agreement 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. Moreover, successive Indian leaders fail to uphold even the promises made to the Nagas by their most venerated leaders like Gandhi and Rajagopalachari. It is most unfortunate that even today, even after ceasefires and holding dialogues with various Naga Political Groups, harsh and unjust laws like the Disturbed Area Act and the AFSPA of 1958 continue to be extended and imposed in the Naga inhabited areas; and under the protection of these Draconian laws unlawful raids, atrocities and killing of civilians and Naga National workers continue to be perpetrated by the Indian Army. However, the Naga experiences of betrayal and treachery by the Indian leaders are educative. And as empowered as India is today, with the desire to share responsibility along with the world powers, we hope that India has become a self-respecting, trustworthy and honourable country.
As we celebrate the 74th Naga Independence Day, we also celebrate with pride and fondly remember the contributions and sacrifices of the patriots who selflessly gave their lives for the Nation. I extend my appreciations to all the Naga National Workers for standing true and committed to the National Call. I warmly congratulate all the recipients of the awards and special commendations for their dedication and commitment.
God bless you all and KUKNALIM.
74th Independence Day Speech by (Retd) S Singnya, Kedahge, Federal Government of Nagaland