Post Mortem

Former UNC presidents’ response to Z. Lohe

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/20/2020 1:02:34 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

But, Nagas in Manipur were not just “onlookers” as Z. Lohe has so wrongly described. There are stories of our people from Naga Hills areas who took shelter in Naga areas in Manipur such as Ukhrul, Somdal, Mao Gate, Tadubi etc. They were treated with care and fellow feelings and none were turned away. Naga Army cadres located in South Naga areas were given food, shelter and logistic support including intelligence on the movement of Indian Army and many were publicly humiliated, beaten and detained for doing so. Nagas in the South also had the opportunity to send rice to villages in the Naga Hills areas facing shortage due to burning down of villages, grouping and destruction of crops by the Indian army. 

South Nagas also experienced horrific history and it is not for us to compete or compare who suffered more. We make brief mention of some facts and incidents which indelibly records the participation of the Nagas in Manipur in the Naga National movement till recent times as follows –

The “Naga Raj” movement started by Haipou Jadonang in 1926 against the British rule in the Zeliangrong area and continued by Rani Gaidinliu after his execution in 1931 was a precursor to the Naga political movement. Many Zeliangrong people were shot dead, jailed and heavy punitive fines and actions were imposed upon the people during the movement.   

The Nagas in the early 1940s became organized in their respective areas for Naga independence. In the Naga Hills district area it was under the banner of the Naga National Council. In  Manipur the Naga National League(NNL) took the lead, which the Manipur Naga Council(MNC) later took over, and in the Free Naga areas it was the Honking Government under the leadership of Thongti Chang. They were eventually merged under the umbrella of the NNC.

NNC leaders came to Naga areas of Manipur in October, 1946 and held consultative meetings. In May, 1947 a general meeting under the banner of the NNL was held at Tunggam(Kosiimai) village where village chiefs from Mao-Maram area and few others from Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong took customary oath to stick to the true spirit and principle and commitment for declaration of Naga independence on 14th August, 1947.    

On 14th August ,1947 at 10 AM the symbolic flag of Naga independence was hoisted at Tunggam village in the Assembly of Naga leaders and Public.  The Naga flag was also hoisted at Inspection Bungalow, Mao Gate and the message of declaration of Naga independence of the Naga areas in Manipur at Asofii, Punanamei village was proclaimed at the same time on that day. The Declaration in Naga areas in Manipur was felt necessary as Manipur was then a princely state and declaration at Kohima alone in the then Naga Hills would be interpreted as exclusion of Naga areas of Manipur.   

The first battle with Indian Army in Manipur took place in June, 1956 at Kriidziili (Bviinho), near Mao Gate when Naga army ambushed an Indian army convoy, which suffered casualties. During this incident 10 Mao Naga villagers (Punanamei 7, Pudunamei 1, Rabunamei 1 and Song Song 1) disappeared from the vicinity of the ambush and were never traced.

One notable fact is that by this time Rana Peyus and Razii Peyus appointed by the NNC/FGN were in place and functional in the Naga areas of Manipur.

Mr Besii Chakho of Pudunamei village (Sepoumaramth) joined the Naga army in September, 1955 and commanded the Southern Command in 1958. He coined the designation ‘Lota Kilonser” for the Minister of Agriculture of the NNC. In 1959 he was arrested, paraded in public  and incarcerated  in Nagaon jail. On release he rejoined the movement in 1961. He and along with H. Lokho of Kaibi village were the provincial Anghs under Japfii State during 1956-1963. He passed away in 1966 from ill health caused by the damaging torture and electric shocks endured while in prison.

Mr Z. G Aping of Chiulon Village, Tamenglong joined the Naga national movement in 1957 served as Lota Kilonser for 4 years and then became Kilo Kilonser. He was shot dead by the Indian Army on 9th January, 1964 near Jotsoma village.

During 1964-1967, the 1st Brigade camp under Southern Command of the Naga Army was located at Chiulon, Tamenglong under the command of Brigadier K. Daiguang Pamei of Oinamlong village, Tamenglong. In 1968 -69, the Brigade was relocated to Katang village, Tamenglong under the command of Brigadier Henito Swu. 

Gen Mowu was stationed in the GHQ of NNC at Tuinem village (Ukhrul) by 1964. On 27 February, 1966, the Paosai-Tarung incident took place close by to the GHQ when the Paosai-Tarung Naga army camp was attacked by the Indian army  and Captain Neihulie Angami @ Neihu, Camp Commader and 3 others namely,  R V. Horeiso of Somdal village, Suisa (Lamkang) and Shitao(Maring) of the Naga army were killed. Ngainga village located nearby the incident was burnt down by the Indian Army. On 23rd December, 1966, in the same year the Indian Army burnt down Ngainga for the second time. These incidents carry harrowing tales of violence and trauma that the villagers of Ngaiga and surrounding villages went through.

The body of Captain K. Soshou of Punanmei village and Athikho of Song Song village of the Naga Army, both from Sepoumaramth region, lies buried in Chozuba village after they were slain by the Indian army on 4th August, 1973. 

The Namthilok ambush where 19 Indian Army men were killed by the Naga army in 1982 resulted in disappearance  of  2 Naga villagers, namely C. Paul and C. Daniel, both of Halang village(Ukhrul) . Many people were tortured, given electric shocks and even sodomised. 

The Oinam incident of 9 July, 1987 in which the Assam Rifles Post at Oinam village was attacked and overrun by the Naga Army resulted in an unrestrained reprisal codenamed “ Operation Bluebird.” It records, 14 villagers killed in non judicial executions, children died of malnutrition, women raped, 30 villages turned into concentration camps, and hell broke loose for nearly 4 months. Local MLA and Elected District Councilors were detained and interrogated and some were even tortured. Activists were also arrested and beaten up. Dr Horam, a Naga Professor was picked up from Manipur University and subjected to psychological torture for having drafted the memorandum of the District Councilors to the Prime Minister of India on the atrocities and human rights violation of the Indian Army in Oinam and the surrounding 30 villages.  

On 19th April,1988, Naga Army ambushed an Indian Army convoy near Shanglungpang village located about 25 kms from Tamenglong district HQ and 10 Indian soldier died. The vengeance meted out by the Indian army upon the villagers in the operation that followed the ambush was an episode of detentions, beatings and indiscriminate violation of human rights.     

The story of Miss Rose of Ngaprum/Kumram village, who committed suicide unable to bear the humiliation of rape by Indian army during an army operation in 1972 and also of the killing of Miss Luingamla of Ngainga village for resisting rape by 2 Indian army officers in 1986 are now ballads sung today of the dishonor and ignominy that our womenfolk have gone through because Nagas dared to struggle for their political rights.

These are some of the travails of the Nagas in Manipur. Not all can be covered in a statement like this but we will be glad to share more in the goodness of time in the spirit of understanding, reconciliation and healing.      

We repeat here again for Mr Lohe’s attention that the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which was specifically enacted to suppress the Naga political movement covered the Naga areas of Manipur as is clearly evident from the title of the Act. Indian armed forces killed, tortured, maimed, raped, detained, burnt and ravaged villages in the Naga areas of Manipur with impunity under the shadow of this black law. The Indo-Naga Ceasefire of 1964 also covered the North Cachar Hills of Assam and the Naga areas of Manipur. There were Peace camps in Shajouba(Senapati), Khongjaron(Tamenglong) and the 2nd Brigade and GHQ of the Naga Army were located at Mao Pungdong (Sepoumaramth) and Tuinem (Ukhrul) respectively. The AFSPA and 1964 Ceasefire coverage was on the basis of the activeness of the movement of Naga Nationalism. It is an insult upon the memories of the Nagas when Z. Lohe attempts to personalize and localize these horrendous pains and sufferings. It also negates his assertion that Nagas of Nagaland are the main contributors and sustainers of the Naga National Movement. 

In the early 1960s, the Village Volunteer Force (VVF- later Home Guards/SSB), a regular force was created to counter the Naga movement in Manipur. Villagers were intimidated, beaten and detained on grounds of providing shelter and food to the Naga army. After the 1975 Shillong Accord, an irregular group called the People’s Militia Group(PMG) was promoted by the Indian Army to counter the activities of the Naga army. Both these reactionary groups unleashed violence and many died as a result of beating and tortures inflicted by them. The traumatic experience caused bad blood between villages and families of victims and that of the VVF and the PMG. Added to the woe of the Nagas in Manipur was the hostile Manipur State Government, always informed and dictated by the interest of the dominant community that had no respect for Nagas and their political rights.

 The great sufferings faced by the Nagas in the wake of the Naga National Movement, be it in Nagaland (Naga Hills and Tuensang Area before statehood) or in the Naga areas of Manipur was for Naga independence and not for a “status under a political arrangement” that Z. Lohe speaks about in “gratefulness”. It is the shared experience and narratives of the struggle that has strengthened the resolve of our people on the National political rights in the face of military force and brutality and traitorous betrayals from within our own.  

He defends the “political builders” who through the Naga Peoples’ Convention succeeded in obtaining statehood for Nagaland much against the wishes of the NNC and which has been  responsible for the great internal divide in the Naga National Movement.  It is difficult to comprehend where Z. Lohe actually stands having claimed primacy in both the Naga National Movement and the statehood of Nagaland.  

We cannot quite understand what Z. Lohe meant by stating that non-stakeholders had already accrued benefits from the state of Nagaland.  Would he be referring to the handful of Nagas from outside Nagaland who found employment in the Nagaland State in the early years of its statehood and who have all since retired ?  They found employment because there was need for more hands at that time and the phenomena would have continued had employment in Nagaland State service not become saturated. A great chunk of the work force in the Naga Hills and Tuensang Area Administration before Statehood and also in Nagaland State administration  till 1972 were what Z. Lohe would describe as outsiders – Bengalis, Assamese, Malayalis, Nagas from Manipur, etc. In fact Lohe should be thankful to the “outsider” Nagas who took employment in Nagaland State service to mend the shortfall of the time. 

As one who had occupied the office of the President, Naga Students’ Federation, in whose tenure the NSF adopted the new  motto “ For Unified Lim and Glory of Nagas”  and also as a star campaigner of the Naga People’s Front  in the 2012 General Election for the Manipur Legislative Assembly with the central message of Naga unity, it is difficult to understand what actually Mr Lohe meant to achieve through his rejoinder. That of all people he should have used expressions such as “onlookers” and “non-stakeholders” in reference to South Nagas is surprising and we wonder why and where he took the turn around. 

While we have clear difference of perception, views and facts with Z. Lohe as illustrated above, a common desire persist and which is that the Naga political history must not be distorted and any attempt to do so must be resisted for the sake of history and for posterity.  

(Concluded)

K. S Paul Leo, Former President, United Naga Council; Gaidon Kamei,Former President,United Naga Council; L. Adani, Former President

United Naga Council.

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