Post Mortem

What is Naga sovereignty?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/29/2019 12:11:22 PM IST

 Land, people and supreme power to make own laws and exercise for self-rule are basic elements of sovereignty. Article 1 of Naga Yehzabo (constitution) defined sovereign Naga territories as all ancestral Naga domain areas. (It is plain from this definition that integration is integral to the sovereignty of Nagaland and that, there is no scope to work for integration as a separate process).The people inhabiting those territories are the aboriginal Nagas by right of blood, by birth. Ancient Nagas were free people. They practiced pure form of democracy and ruled themselves. 

British imperialism in 19th century cut short that free lives of the Nagas. After fierce fighting, Naga forefathers made peace with the imperialist in 1879 and lived together with the foreigners peacefully up to 1947. When the British prepared to leave her South East Asia Empire, Nagas under the aegis of Naga Club submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission of the British Parliament that came to Kohima in 1929. Naga Clubpresented two options; First, “to leave Nagas alone to return to their free lives as in ancient times”. Second, “Nagaswould self-determine their own future, in the event the British made any move to throw Nagas into the hands of the people who could never defeat and subjugate them in the past.” The British left the fate of Naga Hills Excluded Area in mystery. Thus, Nagas in exercise of the second option, Nagas declared Naga independence. That historic declaration already self-determined Naga future as an independent nation. Therefore, in strict sense, ours’ is no more self-determination movement.

Post-World War-II, the Naga National Council (NNC), founded on February 2, 1946, expressed the will of the Nagas, both in writings and physically meetingthe British and Indian leaders to draw a clear roadmap for Naga future. The British leaders ignored Naga plea. The Indian leaders too ignored all goodwill missions of the Naga leaders. As there was no more time left for negotiation, Nagasunder the banner of Naga National Council (NNC) declared their own independence on August 14, 1947, one day ahead of the British’s formal transfer of power to new independent India. NNC led Nagas and conducted Plebiscite on May 16, 1951. Nagas gave 99.9% mandate for complete independence. The Republic of India tried to impose her election in Nagaland in 1952. No Naga stood for election and no Naga cast vote. Nagas rejected the constitution of India in toto. Having received the people’s mandate, NNC proceeded to establish a sovereign nation. NNC adopted the Naga Yehzabo (constitution) on January 21, 1956 and by the provisions of that Yehzabo, established the provisional Naga National Government, the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) on February 2, 1956. Nagas hoisted their National Flag. By taking those vitallegal steps as universally required to establish a sovereign nation, NNC completed the process of building Naga nation.  That was the history of sovereign Nagaland in the making. Today, many Nagas have no patient ears to hear that history being narrated over and over again. Such people would say, “I know, I know; don’t try to tell me again.” In reality, they know the historical events but not their deeper meanings. This is the time for sophisticated analysis of those historical events and to present their interpretations in right perspective to clear the doubts and confusions. It was a fact that no recognized nation or the United Nations Organization (UNO) came forward to recognize the sovereignty of Nagaland immediately. In 1956, Nagas sent out A. Z. Phizo, then NNC President abroad for that work. In 1967, ScatoSwu, then FGN President in his credential letter appealed the Chinese government to recognize the legality of the Federal Government of Nagaland. Our great leaders of that time had clarity of mind and worked in that direction. Now, the onus is on us. Recognizing the legality of Nagaland as a nation remains pending. Nevertheless, that did not mean our nation is not sovereign. 

In present times, there has been complete misunderstanding on the sovereignty of Nagaland. Even mnayNagas have misconception that sovereignty is our goal or dream. Most people think we are chasing that goal or dream. Nagas must know that on March 22, 1956, Nagasestablished Nagaland to be nation among nations and people among peoples. Naga leaders founded Nagaland as our new nation and Naga, as the nationality of that nation. Nagaland became one of the provisional nations established to seek recognition by other nations. That was our accomplished goal and atranslation of our dream into reality. Therefore, in essence, it is an accomplished goal that Nagas are unable to live it because of external interference. We are constantly working (not fighting or struggling) to live that freedom.From beginning, NNC adopted non-violence as its declared policy and method for that work. Violence was not the means. Therefore, the FGN signed ceasefire agreement with the GOI in 1964 to end India-Naga war. India was the champion of non-violence. Therefore, it will not be misplaced belief that she has the large heart to respect our non-violence methods of working to make her understand our unique position. The work will continue by non-violence means because nothing is final until we are completely free to rule our own nation.

Nagaland being founded as a nation is sovereign in her own right. Nagaland’s sovereignty is not our future that we expect to come to us one day. It is very much our present, handed down to us by our forefathers and fathers. External aggression and imposed rule obstructed us for self-rule since our forefathers’ time. Those problems had obstructed us to develop our own country by our own genius. We are not chasing after a goal or a dream. We are not on journey to reach our destination. We are at home since time immemorial. We are forced to live together with foreigners in our own homes. That is why we are telling them to leave our homeland. Neighbors do not invade each other’s home uninvitedor without seeking prior permission. In our case, our neighbor has not only invaded our homes but also violated our privacy.

Ours’ is not a case of historical and political right to become sovereign that is to come. It is a case of sovereign nation as established pending recognition by world community. We are not demanding independence from India becausethe sovereignty of Nagaland is not with India. It is with us. We have no right to demand anything of India’s internal subjects. It is a shameful thing to demand power from the GOIto exercise for the things that are of our own. Demand will transmuteour independence right to that of secessionist movement. August 14, 1947 declaration put Nagas in a unique position. For this reason, the only thing we want from India is for her to withdraw from Naga country. 

Today, Nagas talked too much of sovereignty that most Nagas have forgotten Nagaland as a nation. Nagas should talk less of sovereignty and live more of our own nation because nation is the physical manifestation of sovereignty. Regardless of the external interferences in our internal affairs, we should talk as a nation, talk like a nation, act like a nation and live like a nation. If we do that, we are truly sovereign and others will see a nation in Nagaland. If not, we only expose ourselves as confused people. Today, many people refuse to accept this concept of Naga nationhood. They will say it is too idealistic, not at all pragmatic to fit into present situation. Truth is that, our nationhood stands on the foundation of this ideal. This is the only power we have against ouradversary that contest our right of nationhood as secessionist movement.

It is great relieve to all peace loving people that the GOI is on the threshold of finding contemporary solutionfor contemporaryproblems in Naga country. The problems were in fact, self-created problems. Common people say they are fed up. They desperately want multiple governments and multiple taxations out of the scene immediately. Hatred and greed had dominated contemporary Naga society andbrought the nation to such a low. Nagaland, as we see it today is in ruins. It needs healing. Let us welcome the healing process. With all contemporary problems solved, hopefully, Nagas will learn to live together as one people and one nation again.Henceforth, let us make Nagaland a great nation as we believed was willed by God. 

God Bless Nagaland. KUKNALIM

(Opinions/views expressed above are personal)

Dr. K. Hoshi

Phek Town


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