Tuesday, November 29, 2022

No true pan-Naga organisation today: Rio


State chief minister Neiphiu Rio lamented that Naga family began to divide since 1960s and continues even till today even as there is no single true pan-Naga organisation, be it a civil society, a tribal body or student body.
Rio said this while addressing the culmination programme of the yearlong 75th anniversary celebration of Naga Students’ Federation at Naga Solidarity Park, Kohima under the theme ‘Call to Oneness’. Referring to the theme, Rio briefly narrated the history of Naga movement, where the primary intention was to unite the Naga family as one. He said Nagas started the journey towards unity and nationhood with the formation of the Naga Club in 1918.
Rio said the Naga Club was the first pan-Naga body that articulated the idea of Naga nationhood and Naga independence in their now famous Memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, which later snowballed into the formation of the first pan-Naga political organisation, Naga Na-tional Council in 1946.
Under the tutelage of NNC, there was broad unity and harmony amongst the Nagas who participated in large numbers in NNC-sponsored plebiscite of 1951 by opting for Naga sovereignty by an overwhelming majority and it was in that midst NSF was formed in 1947, he said. He said division within the Naga family started in 1960s and continues unabated till today as seen in the Naga national political groups which were now divided into several camps while tribalism was raising its ugly head in the Naga civil society. Rio cited that even today, many well intended decisions and actions of the government as well as many law and order incidents etc were often viewed and interpreted along tribal lines.
Realising the need for Nagas to come together, Rio said his government had incorporated the word “Unity” in its state emblem during his first tenure as chief minister. He said the prime need of the Naga society at the moment was oneness, unity and harmony.
Congratulating NSF on completing 75 years of service to the student community, as well as to the Naga community as a whole, Rio exuded confidence that NSF would continue to remain strong and carry on their legacy of serving and unifying the Naga people even in the years to come. Rio further maintained that NSF was set up not only for taking care of student related activities, but also to cultivate and preserve the rich Naga identity.
Even as Naga forefathers followed a system of pure democracy, where there was no class system and where there was equality amongst all, Rio regretted that today the beautiful Naga culture was showing signs of slow decline. He, therefore, urged the gathering to make every effort to preserve and protect the rich traditions, cultures and customs.
Rio also encouraged the NSF to play a catalytic role in guiding and moulding the youth so they could live up to their full potential.
The chief minister also said that NSF had undertaken various initiatives during the last 75 years to bring about the spirit of oneness among the Nagas in Naga inhabited areas and many of the members have accomplished great things in their respective fields.
He expressed hope that the legacy will be carried forward and use the resources at their disposal to reach much greater heights in the years to come.
In his address, Arunachal Pradesh’s former minister home and finance, Lowangcha Wanglat, who graced the occasion as guest of honour, expressed joy at joining the 75 years celebration of NSF’s “selfless service” to mankind.
He wished that NSF continue to play an exceptional role in the process of nation-building by producing the best minds and souls.
Wanglat exuded confidence that Naga would always be a Naga even as some misconceived people advocate that there were no Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts.
In this regard, Wanglat said he has published a book about the Nagas of Arunachal “The Headhunting Nagas of Arunachal Pradesh” to dispel the misconception that there were no Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh.
He expressed hope that the relationship between Nagas of Arunachal Pradesh and the Nagas of other Naga ancestral land could be one of the defining moments in Naga history. “The road passing through the Naga territory of Arunachal Pradesh can make the Act East Policy a reality,” Wanglat said.
Further, Wanglat said societies were strongest when the equality of all the people was upheld including the women who deserved to be treated equally.
Therefore, he said if Nagas really want to succeed in today’s global economy, the talents of half the people cannot be ignored.
Wanglat said Nagas will succeed so long as Nagas are not splintered along the lines of tribes and communities.
Planning committee convener K Temjen Jamir, in his speech on “75 years of NSF setting the context”, said 75 years ago, responding to the call of the Naga people for youth participation in the defence of the Naga Nation, a small group of dedicated Naga students and young people formed a Union on October 29, 1947 at Kohima.
With the objective of strengthening the Naga struggle, Jamir said the newly formed body stood alongside the Naga leadership in defence of Naga Independence from the subjugation of the newly independent India.
On commemorating its 75 years, Jamir said NSF salute the pioneers and founding members and the NSF leaders who tirelessly journeyed for the Naga cause.
He said that their selfless sacrifices have strengthened the Naga struggle and still continued to ensure the dignity.
Upholding the commitment made, he said NSF chose the theme ‘Call to Oneness’ inviting all the Naga people to participate in overcoming the little differences and re-dedicate to reclaim the egalitarian society that they have inherited and “thus concretise the goal of one Naga brother-hood.”
With regard to areas of common concern in Northeast states, he said NSF would continue to partner with member organizations of the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO).
NSF president Kegwayhun Tep delivered a welcome address while NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya and Khasi Students’ Union delivered a solidarity message and also presented a memento to the NSF. Sureno Melody Kikon recited a poem composed by Ningreichon Tung-shang.
Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong, Eastern Naga Students’ Federation, Myanmar Nagas and Poumai Naga Tsiidoumai Me performed cultural presentations.
A host of former NSF leaders including elected members, leaders from various student tribal units and others attended the celebration.

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