Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Response to NSF’s allegation that the Naga Club was formed only in 2017/18

The Naga Club is appalled to see the allegations made by the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) stating that the Naga Club was formed in 2017/18 in a statement published in the local media on 25th July, 2022. The Naga Club, being an organization of elderly and matured people considers it inappropriate and childish to respond or issue rejoinder to each and every allegation made against it by individual or organization.
However, lest the younger generation is misguided by preposterous statements, the Naga Club is constrained to lay bare the facts of history in the interest of truth and justice to the events of the past.
The statement made by NSF alleging (quote) “how could it (NSF) pay rent to an organization that was formed only in 2017/18” (unquote) is not only ignorant but also impertinent that defies all acceptable norms and behavior of the Naga people, who are known for honoring their elders with utmost respect and reverence. In view of such and other similar farcical statements, the Naga Club hereby issues this response for the Naga people, especially the younger generation to understand the factual history and the stand of the Naga Club in the right perspective.

  1. Formation of the Naga Club: The Naga Club was formed by some educated Govt. servants serving in the DC’s office, Kohima on 7th Jan. 1918 under the Chairmanship of Rheichalie Pienyü, peshkar, and his team served the Naga Club from 1918 to 1942.
    The humble yet erudite members of the Club, conscious of the consequences that would follow the departure of the British from the Naga Hills, submitted a Memorandum to the British Statutory Commission under the Chairmanship of Sir John Allsebrook Simon, commonly known as the ‘Simon Commission’, on the 10th Jan. 1929 which became the written Magna Carta of the Naga National Politics, and which has chartered and changed the history of the Naga people. Krusiehou Belho became the Chairman and Ziekro-o Theünuo Angami was made the Secy. from 1942 to 1966. Thereafter, Khyomo Lotha, former MP was made Secy. and Caretaker from 1966 to 1969.
    For a brief period from 1969 to 1981, the Naga Club remained hiatus as the atmosphere was not congenial to hold various activities due to hostile military operations by the Indian security forces against the Naga National Movement except for the existence of Naga Elders’ Conference which took the responsibilities of Naga Club under the Chairmanship of Peselie Suokhrie.
    On 7th Jan. 1982 at Kohima Vill. Panchayat, the Naga Club was revived with Azüto Rengma as the Chairman, Vilavor Liegise as the Gen. Secy. and Kewezü Mero as Joint Secy, Kewezü Mero held his post as Joint Secy. till the new team of Naga Club took charge of office headed by Krurovi Peseyie as President and K.N. Mhonthung Lotha as Gen. Secy. on 17.08.2017, who were revered for their ‘unpurchaseable integrity’.
    The elderly former office bearers such as Kewezü Mero and Ex-MP Khyomo Lotha are our Naga Club Advisors till today.
    Therefore, it is an unthinkable sheer absurdity and ignorance on the part of the NSF to state that the Naga Club was formed in 2017/18 by individuals (quote) “laying claims as the sole owner of the building in Kohima” (unquote).
    It ill behoves the NSF and is therefore advised not to publish such wild and baseless statements again in future.
  2. The Naga Club Building: Insofar as the Naga Club building is concerned, it is to state that prior to the World War II, the Naga Club building was situated below the Mission Compound and which was used as a Morung as well as Guest House with cooking facilities for travelers coming from remote villages.
    However, during the war, the building was completely destroyed and the present Naga Club building in its current location was constructed in 1946 on the land provided through the benevolent goodwill of Kohima Village. A. Kevichüsa in 1983 had categorically stated that he personally supervised the construction of the building.
    The materials were brought from Dimapur after dismantling a British Officer’s Club which was transported to Kohima using the DC’s pool vehicle.
    The CGI sheets were purchased by him from Kohima. As for the ownership of the building, A. Kevichüsa stated (quote) “It does not belong to the Angamis in particular.
    Neither does it belong exclusively to the Kohima people nor to the Christians. It belongs to the Naga people as a whole” (unquote). It is for a Pan-Naga community without borders.
    During the early period of Naga National Movement, the building served as a meeting place for the functionaries of NNC as well as the Naga people. As a matter of fact, even the speech of NNC President, A Z Phizo on the occasion of Naga Plebiscite on 16th May, 1951 was delivered from this building.
    Taking advantage of the political turmoil following the departure of the British from the Naga Hills, the Indian army forcibly occupied the building till the formation of Nagaland Statehood.
    In 1963, the Directorate of the Forest Dept. occupied the building till the early part of 1983. On learning that the Forest Dept. were to vacate the Naga Club Building by the end of March 1983 and that the Govt. is contemplating to hand over the building to the Directorate of Education, a prominent concerned Naga citizen, alerted Peselie Suokhrie, Chairman, Naga Elders Conference and Azüto Rengma, Chairman, Naga Club of the impending taking over by another Govt. Dept.
    The two leaders on affirming the facts immediately met NSF leaders and directed them to lock up the Naga Club Building, thereby preventing another Dept. of the Govt. from reoccupying the building. As per the statement of the person who alerted the aforementioned elders, a sum of Rs 600/- (six hundred only) was also given to the NSF which facilitated in the transportation and mobilization of youths and to purchase an oversized lock to lock the building.
    After the Naga Club Building gate was locked, the DC’s police came and found the youths around the Naga Club Building and saw an unconscionably disproportionately large lock barring the entrance to the Naga Club Building. Then they left saying “Oh, it is locked”. (The prominent Naga leader is still alive and if required, can testify to the happenings during this crucial time).
    We are grateful to NSF for paying our Naga Club house rent for the month of April 1983 and the Forest Dept. for paying our house rent for a sum of Rs. 1,66,603/- by cheque on 28.03.1988, for a period of over 19 years wef 1963 to 1983, records of which testifies to the fact.
    On vacation of the building by the Forest Dept, the NSF vide letter dt 4th April 1983 wrote a letter addressed to the Gen. Secy, Naga Club with the subject “Application for renting the Building of Naga Club”.
    Accordingly, the Naga Club through an Order Dt 07/04/1983 allotted some rooms of the building to NSF under the condition which states (quote) “with the good consent of mutual understanding under rental basis with effect from the date of issue of this order” (unquote).
    Thus, it is evident that while the inherent and intrinsic nature of relation between NSF and Naga Club is ‘familial father-son relationship’, the relation between the two entities with regard to the occupation of the Naga Club Building by the NSF is akin to that of a ‘transactional Landlord-tenant relationship’.
    The urgent and imperative need to revamp and rebuild the building which has undergone the severest of depreciation and stand dilapidated without proper amenities projecting our Naga people particularly Naga Club and all that it represents, in a very poor light, has necessitated the need for tenants to vacate the building.
    The statement of the NSF (quote) “the building then was being claimed by another group of individuals, in the name of another NC, and the dispute matter was lying under the court of the Deputy Commissioner, Kohima for hearing” (unquote), suggests that the NSF is not aware of the matter in toto concerning the claim of the building by some individuals and thus the unfounded apprehension of its repeated statement of ‘individuals laying claim as the owner of the Naga Club building’.
    It must be reiterated here for the record and for posterity that neither the Naga Club, nor its building belongs to individuals. It belongs to the Naga people as a whole.
    It may be stated here for the enlightenment of the office of the NSF that the incident of some individual laying claim of the Naga Club building dates back to 1979. In the period when the Naga Club lay hiatus, the Naga Football Association (NFA) on 8th Sept. 1979 led by a group of few individuals had claimed to form a Naga Club to stake claim as the legitimate Naga Club.
    (To be concluded…)
    Information & Publicity Cell, Naga Club, HQ Kohima- Nagaland

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