First Naga Day celebrated to push for unity among tribes

The Naga Choir sings ‘Kuknalim’ as members of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation stand below the stage at the first Naga Day celebrated at Khuochiezie (Kohima Local Ground) on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | Morung Photo

The event commemorates the historic day of 10 Jan 1929, when a memorandum was submitted to the Simon Commission seeking self-determination for Nagas.

New Delhi: Festive fever gripped Kohima Wednesday as hundreds gathered at the Khuochiezie local ground to celebrate what was touted as the first ‘Naga Day’, aimed at forging unity among Nagas across borders.

It was held to commemorate the historic day of 10 January 1929, when the Naga Club — formed in 1918 to push for Naga unity — had submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission seeking self-determination and alienation from the Indian union.

The event came days after Naga Hoho, an apex Naga tribal body, sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help in postponing the forthcoming Nagaland Assembly elections, seeking an early solution to the insurgency problem.

In 2015, the Modi government and the rebel group NSCN (I-M) had signed a framework agreement to end the insurgency.

Wednesday’s event — a joint initiative by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, a joint conglomeration of tribal, church and factional bodies, as well as Angami Public Organisation — however did not make any reference to the controversial Nagalim (integration of all Naga-inhabited areas) issue.

Instead, Naga scholars talked about reconciliation across factions, tribes and borders given that Naga tribes are spread over four states in India’s Northeast as well as Myanmar.

“Will we be tribalistic, unable to think beyond our small groups, or will we be citizens conscious of our rights and responsibilities?” asked Dr. Kethoser Kevichusa, an evangelist scholar and grandson of one of the signatories of the historic memorandum. “I want to address you today as my fellow Naga citizens.”

In the spirit of inclusion, special numbers were performed by Kuki artist Ellie Neikim Hangshing and Eastern Naga team, a singer duo representing Nagas from Myanmar. Nagas share old rivalries with Kukis in Manipur, who have clashed with them in the 1990s over territorial claims.

The pressure for a peaceful solution to the Naga problem has been building up ahead of the Nagaland assembly polls, due in February-March.

Amid the uncertainty of a political solution materialising either before or after the polls, the push for unity among various tribes is being seen as a positive development by civil society organisations in Nagaland.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang met Union home minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday, and the two leaders discussed the Naga political issue. A statement from the Nagaland government said that Singh assured Zeliang that he would “convene a meeting on the demand of the Naga people”.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Is Prime Minister the authority to postpone or pre pone or cancelled an election? And to refer to the Simon commission does it not revive demand in disguise ? Also 2015 agreement is in dust bin or put into foreign bank locker? Disclose make public the 2015 agreement.

    • Hello. Thank you for your comment.

      The Naga struggle dates back as early as the memorandum submitted by the Naga club to the Simon Commission in 1929. One can only speculate that the 2015 framework agreement builds much further from that and beyond the terms of agreement signed in the Shillong accord, 1975 (which essentially led to the breaking away of the NSCN). The only way elections can be postponed is if the state comes under President’s rule, since the term of the elected offices in the assembly will expire by 13 March 2018.

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