- The rejoinder of the Naga Club to Mezoma’s claim of Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty appears necessitated for two crucial reasons. Firstly, there was never such an Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty. Secondly, the people of Mezoma are not known to be a part of the ‘no-more-fight agreement’ holding the head of the cat at that point of time as claimed by Mezoma. What is undisputed is the fact that the event of the agreement was held at Mezoma. As per my understandings and thorough perusal of the Naga Club rejoinder dt 18.12.22, the Naga Club’s objections were only two: viz. (quote) “142 years of Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty” (unquote) as well as (quote) “on 27th March, 1880 two men from Mezoma and Khonoma held the head of the cat while the British the lower end of the cat slicing it into two from the neck” (unquote) as were stated by Mezoma on 07.12.22 in the media.
- As such, the Naga Club’s rejoinder to Mezoma stated as: (quote) “Mezoma might have been a witness as it was a friendly village to the British Govt and neither a party in the said no-more-fight agreement nor was the agreement an Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty” (unquote).
- I believe the reason why Naga Club had to respond to Mezoma is not to object the commemoration of a historic event of no-more-fight agreement which took place on 27th Mar. 1880 at Mezoma but that the nomenclature of the event was a distortion of facts of history that must be pointed out in truthfulness for posterity, since our political rights to continue to be free and independent were validated by our unchallengeable history. The documentation of such distortion therefore in public domain in the media will do great harm to the truth. While the stone pulling event was not only ceremonial, but educative as well, however the attempt to distort the facts is a severe injustice to history and the upcoming generations.
- Historical record testifies the 19 Treaties that had taken place amongst the 16 Indian Kingdoms and 562 Princely States in the Indian Sub-continents, whereby the British had made Treaties with anyone in the region who either surrendered something to the British or to whomsoever that cooperated with the British or loses its sovereignty without tangible resistance. During the mid-18th to first-half of 20th centuries, the British were at the top of the world power, so the Naga case is an ‘Absolutely Exceptional One’. Therefore, the claim and definition given by MMK that (quote) “Peace Treaties are concluded in recognition of the sovereignty of both parties” (unquote) is highly unwarranted, that is where all the logically and historically unjustified statements have been derived to confuse our Naga society today. Although there are varied types of treaties, we are dealing with the British Treaties in most of the Kingdoms of the Indian Sub-continents whereby many surrendered to the British in the 19 Treaties given below.
- All those Treaties made by the British ‘are never a recognition of the sovereignty of both the parties’ as erroneously claimed by MMK in its reply, but rather a surrender of their sovereignties, namely the Sangola Agreement 1752, Treaty of Alinagar 1757, Treaty of Allahabad 1765, Treaty of Madras 1769, Treaty of Benaras 1773, Treaty of Oudh 1775, Treaty of Surat 1775, Treaty of Purandar 1776, Treaty of Wadgaon 1779, Treaty of Salbai 1782, Treaty of Mangalore 1784, Treaty of Seringapatam 1792, Treaty of Bassein 1802, Treaty of Deogaon 1805, Treaty of Amritsar 1809, Treaty of Sagauli 1816, Treaty of Lahore 1846, Treaty of Amritsar 1846, Treaty of Bhirowal 1846. The facts and circumstances speaks for themselves.
- As per MMK’s statement, (quote) “The British deny that any Peace Treaty was concluded with the Nagas because the British did not recognize the Nagas as a nation with the right or power to conclude a peace treaty” (unquote). What then would be the intention of Mezoma to state as: (quote) “142 years of Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty” in the media? Is it to prove that the Nagas are merely a nation only with their false claims in just entering into an Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty? Or is it to still propagate that the Nagas had surrendered to the British like those Kingdoms in the Indian Sub-continents to support the British Govt? By the same argument of MMK, it would suggest that any weak and suppressed country has ‘No Sovereignty’ suggesting the jungle rule that ‘Might is Right’. The sovereignty of the Nagas or any nation for that matter cannot be decided by the existence of any treaty or the lack of it, but by the inherent legitimate rights that exist irrespective of any treaties. The above statements of MMK are misleading.
- It is a sad thing for MMK to state as, (quote) “The most commonly held understanding of a “Peace Treaty” is “an agreement for peace and cessation of hostilities between two nations” or in simple words “no-more-fight agreement”” (unquote) in the media to argue the justification that the no-more-fight agreement is the same as Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty which is outright fallacious.
- The British wanted a signed treaty, but it was declined by the Nagas. But after ritualistic agreement in our Naga customary practice was accepted by the British Govt in our terms and conditions, the British Govt requested two conditions to enter into the said no-more-fight agreement. In the FIRST CONDITION, the British were aware that a huge cannon was possessed by the Nagas and used it against them, which was gifted to the Nagas by the Kuki Chief of Manipur. The British wanted to use the situation as a leverage to persuade the Nagas to surrender the cannon and preconditioned that without producing the said cannon the proposed agreement would not take place.
- But the Nagas who fled the village replied that the cannon being huge and heavy, they could not carry it up into the caves on the rocky hilltop where they were hiding, and that the cannon must have been taken by the British and unless the British produce the cannon, there cannot be the proposed agreement. The British, being unable to produce the cannon, were forced to agree to the no-more-fight agreement without the cannon.
- Factually, the Nagas were overwhelmingly excited at the high destructive power inflicted on the enemy by the cannon while fighting with the British, and in their enthusiasm, the Naga warriors then charged the cannon much beyond its maximum capacity which had blasted and damaged the cannon. In order not to show the broken cannon, it was buried at Khonoma which some elders know the site of the burial to this day. This is how our Naga people have abstained from any sort of surrender including capitulating their Weapons, History, the Naga Minds, the Naga National Soul and their Political Rights.
- In the SECOND CONDITION, the British requested to bring the Chief/Greatest person amongst the Nagas to represent the warring Nagas. Mr Kienitso Seyie who knew Assamese leading the delegation for the peace negotiation had told them that there was no such hierarchical system of great and small, but since they kept insisting, therefore in the later stage a warrior of huge-built and good physique in the person of Mr Pelhu Dolie was made to represent the Nagas in the “no-more-fight agreement”.
- Before the agreement deal was made, it is told that in order to be on the side of victory, the Nagas went down to Assam and took some lives of the British subjects as trophies to signify their victory. The agreement was concluded in the Naga tradition with a Naga from Khonoma holding the head of a living cat, signifying that the Nagas had the upper hand in the deal as per our Naga customary practices, while the British held the body, and the cat was then sliced from the neck into two by a ‘Naga Priest’ to signify that any party treacherous to the other would face the same fate.
- Such ritualistic customary practices were solemn and it is intelligible that through the said agreement we became friends with the British and as per the version of A Z Phizo the Nagas had stated that the British could stay in our land as a friendly nation. Mr Pelhu Dolie had stated (quote) “If you do not disturb us we will not disturb you, now you are our friend not our enemy” (unquote) under this the British began to stay in our homeland without any disturbance, but it was not through any conquest, this is what I have learnt from few written records as well as from our Naga elders. If there is any organizations or individuals who have erroneously recorded that the Nagas had an Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty in their diaries, books or souvenirs, then that would be their private business but when the matter is highlighted in the media it becomes a public document which needs scrupulous correction for posterity.
- The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines “Peace Treaty” as “a binding formal agreement, contract or other written instrument that establishes obligations between two or more subjects of the International Law”. It is clear that no such treaties took place between the British and the Nagas. In fact, a written treaty was insisted upon by the British with their terms and conditions. But the wisdom and honour of our erudite legendary Naga ancestors prevailed and refusing to sign any treaty whose implications as in other cases they would not understand then was a wisdom from our Almighty God, which should never be taken for Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty at all costs.
- The question of ‘one Mezoma holding the head of the cat taking part in the agreement’ defies all rationality. To quote Mrs Cawley, the wife of the then SP, Kohima in 1879, while narrating the incident of “The Siege of Kohima, 1879” wrote: (quote) “The utmost the friendly khels could do was to remain neutral and even this was a great gain on our side. Mozema also remained neutral, and these men deserve the greatest consideration for resisting the tempting opportunity of joining in a general rising which promised to be successful.” (unquote). Refer ‘The Nagas in the Nineteenth Century’ by Verrier Elwin, page 573. Mezoma claiming that “on 27th March, 1880, two men from Mezoma and Khonoma held the head of the cat while the British the lower end of the cat slicing it into two from the neck” to make a no-more-fight agreement with the British is absolutely absurd.
- It is absurd because Mezoma was not a part in the huge human casualties that took place at that point of time that resulted on 14th Nov, 1879, to quote from ‘The Nagas in the Nineteenth Century’, page 186 and 188: (quote) “out of the 65 police who accompanied Mr G H Damant 25 were found to be killed or missing, and 14 more were wounded, and of the 20 military, 10 were killed and 5 wounded” (unquote) the death also included the Political Officer Mr G.H. Damant. Again, on 22nd Nov, 1879 while punitive expedition was carried out at Khonoma, (quote) “having lost in the assault two British Officers and the Subedar-Major of the 44th S.L.I killed, two British and two Native Officers wounded, and 44 of the rank and file killed and wounded” (unquote).
- It is also learnt that more than 70 Khonoma warriors were decimated in the last British Govt punitive expedition. The heavy casualty inflicted upon the British, including the Political Officer Mr Damant while trying to invade Khonoma, perhaps, was the main reason why the British sought for a peace agreement with the Nagas to cease conflicts and wars, as it was not in their interest to continue lengthy hostilities which were in subsistence since 1832. History must be audaciously narrated in its bare and brutal truth in the most accurate manner at all costs, as the truth is the most valuable thing and most powerful weapon in the world, even if to one’s own disadvantage. We must stand by the truth. It is for this reason that rejoinders have come up to the claims of the ‘142 years of Anglo-Naga Peace Treaty’ by Mezoma but not for WAR of WORDS in the MEDIA.
Robert N Solo,
Kohima Village, Kohima
Rejoinder to Mezomia Mechü Kehou (MMK)’s Statement Dt 29.12.22