Friday, September 22, 2023

Sentimentalism ownership over Independence Day

The Naga issue is been known by most and the conflict of that issue of freedom, the idea of Naganess and Indianness comes visible during the 14&15 August of Independence celebration. Could a person be entitled to celebrate two independence days as their own, Nagas do celebrate the 14th August as their independence and does celebrate 15th August, the Independence day of India as their independence day. The former consist of the majority who celebrate in spirit and the other sections consist of various camps of the revolutionary factions but the wishes are same that one-day this historical day come true on the other hand, the later consist of the govt employees as politicians down to peon that celebrate the 15th august as part of the imposed responsibilities either to save the job for certain otherwise their jobs, position and status will be in danger and may fade. But within this conditional believes of celebration, the owning of the date is a factor which nagas has failed and will bound to fail in the coming days. Neither 14th august nor 15th august is just a date, it is a date deeply imprinted in the mind and spirit of the peoples connected by history of different period. So in all robust consciousness, one person cannot polygamize the different dates and as their own, which the law of the land would not permit nor morality does allow or else it would be hypocrisy of the existential law and constitution of an established entity.
15 August for majority Nagas is just another National holiday or spend the day in watching the celebration programs But are Nagas able to own 15 August as they own 14th August?
Why is it much difficult or much impossible for the Nagas to own the 15th august celebration of India independence is because Nagas was never a part of that struggle. They were never a part of Indian struggle for Independence, they haven’t sacrifice their lives for an Independence of India and therefore they could not relate the sacrifice of Mangal Pandey, Azad, Bhagat or Bose as someone of their own by blood and bone who had sacrificed for their freedom and therefore both India and Nagas should put an ardent effort to understand the historical context of the sentimentalism of the people’s.
This part of territory known by the name of Naga hills in those days was an excluded area, no string attached to these parts with India or from any other parts exception of the kingdom of ahoms, occasional conflicts with manipur in the bordering areas. It was only after the contacts with British after the Anglo Burmese war and signing of the treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. These hills came and tribes came under the radar of colonial observation.
Even after colonial paramountacy in Naga territory, Certain naga areas continue to remain unadministered under the British rule and therefore enjoy their independence outside the area beyond the political control.
The Nagas were fighting for their nation as in those days the seperate tribal territory were considered as the nation of each tribes and thus their fight for independence dates even before the Indian freedom struggle began. They were resisting the British trespassing in their territory that led to the battle of Kikruma in 1951 even before the Indian mutiny revolt of 1857 took place, which is popularly known as the first war of Indian Independence when the INC was formed in 1885 by Indians , British on the other side has occupied Naga areas of Samaguting and made its headquarter in 1886 and Nagas especially Angami Nagas were on the verged preparing for a battle against the British govt that took place in 1889 and culminated in the Seize of Kohima in 1881 establishing the permanent headquarter of British govt in the Naga Hills.
When the Partition of Bengal and Swadeshi movement started in Bengal in 1905. On the other side, the British penetrated into the interior areas of Nagas in annexing the territory of Sangtam, Sumi…
When Indians were resisting the partition of Bengal and it get revoked in 1911, the Konyak Nagas were resisting the British annexation.
Back in 1820’s Jadonang and Gaidinliu movement or Heraka movement was primarily to revive and preserve the indigenous religious practices from the influence of Christianity and thus resisted the British conversion of Nagas to Christianity but this has nothing to do with the Nagas to Indian freedom struggle.
When Indian National movement were under the radar of Gandhiji and going through the phase of satyagraha movement post 1917, British were recruiting Nagas to fight for the them in the first world.
When the Indian were deeply mourning as by the incident of Massacre of Jallianwala bagh in 1919, Sweeping on the wave of Non co-operation movements in 1920’s, the Nagas were already structuring the roadmap for the political movement by forming the clubs and tribal councils.
Even when Simon commission came to India, Indians boycotted the commission with black flags. Nagas on the other hand had submitted the memorandum to commission in 1929 for the future of the Nagas be left for determining their own future.
When the round table conferences and civil disobedience movement was started in 1930, The Nagas were forwarding the memorandum’s to her majesty government for the political future of Nagas.
When the Quit India movement begin in 1945, Nagas were fighting on two fronts one alongside the British against the Japanese invasion and other alongside the INA alliance of Japan and Germany but this was a struggle not for Indian independence but for the Nagas. The former that after the war, British would honor the Naga contribution and give them freedom, the later with the objective to drive out the British from the land of Nagas.
The participation of A.Z Phizo as a colonel under Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian National Army was one foremost examples. His main intention was to liberate the Nagas from the British yoke with the help of INA as similar like Bose took the support of Germany and Japan to liberate India, it was a military alliance unfortunately the defeat at Battle of Kohima led Phizo to imprisonment at Rangoon after British found that he was involved in participating against the British govt by supporting the INA but it was not a struggle for Indian independence but for the Nagas.
All this events has a cold connection between India struggle for freedom with the Nagas. There is a quite disassociation, connection and participation of the two sides for and with different reasons but both striving for their own freedom and independence.
To celebrate something so passionately and deeply, a person must have an attachment to the memories of the past. The past struggle of sufferings, loss so when the moment of liberation come they could relate those days sufferings and this moment of realizations would enable the person to truly embrace the value and essences of freedom alleviating oneself to experience the greater solace and peace of minds, the feeling of belongingness to people and deeper connection to the land, the motherland and father pride .
When Indians in broader sense see the flag, they could able to envision and relate their attachment of those past memories that makes them so natural to endear the flag and makes the date more worth and valuable. More to it, how proudly would they be able to narrate those great freedom fighters who had sacrificed their lives as their own, in other words they have ownership over those events, struggles, martyrs or stories but on the other hand Nagas has nothing as to depict the heroism of those to own and say that they have martyred for the Nagas. Neither does Jana Gana Mana does have any acceptance of the Nagas or Vande mataram or Bharat Mata or Jai Hind. Neither historical origin or any affinities does the Nagas has any string attached to India civilization. While on the otherside, when Nagas holds the Naga flag… the struggle and sufferings people went through in the hands of India under the military rule is reflashed and thus they are able to embrace the date of 14 August and flag more deeply because the dates are attached to the struggle of the people who underwent atrocities in the hands of the people who imposed upon them to accept the dates for which the Nagas have done nothing to be celebrated as sacred auspicious day…How could that be possible when people does not have the ownership of the day and a reason to be celebrated .
History will one day question the contribution of Nagas to the Indian struggle for freedom, what will Nagas and India answer be. It is therefore that India even after knowing all this clearly if they wishes to thrust the stone on the neck of the Nagas and fit the people into the mainstream then it must from the beginning give the ownership of the day regardless of the participation of Nagas in the Indian National freedom struggle lest the generations do not suffer in future on the question of their ancestors participation and contribution towards owing the date of 15 August or 26 th January as their own.
However this question still remains, Would Nagas ever be able to have sentimentalism ownership over the 15th August ?
Hokato Awomi
Activist and
Asst professor.


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