A befitting monument for the first chief minister of Nagaland
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first Chief Minister of Nagaland, P. Shilu Ao was a man of wisdom and a visionary forerunner who worked for the upliftment of Nagaland.
A dedicated leader, P. Shilu Ao did not fear to give up his life for the love of his people and was involved in the negotiations leading to the creation of Nagaland. He breathed his last on 19th September 1988, 25 years after Nagaland attained Statehood. Coincidently, as Nagaland
celebrates 50th years of its Statehood, a Monument to commemorate P. Shilu Ao’s contributions to the people of Nagaland was erected and inaugurated at his native village, Longjang under Mokokchung district on 1st August 2014.
Born on 24th December 1916 at Longjang village, Ao was the fourth child to Metongchiba Pongen and Melungnenla Imchen. Raised in a poor family, P. Shilu Ao struggled hard to achieve where he was then. He did his early schooling at Impur Mission School from where he passed
his class VI in 1st division in 1934. In the year 1938 he completed his Matriculation from Jorhat Mission School in 1st Division, which was regarded as one of the biggest achievements of his time. He continued his intermediate Arts at Cotton College, Guwahati and passed his Bachelor of Arts from the same college in the year 1952 and completed Bachelor of Teaching from Shillong in the subsequent year.Between 1939 and 1940 he served as a lower Primary School Teacher at his native Village Longjang with a monthly salary of Rs. 10/-. After his intermediate studies, he taught at Impur Mission School from 1941 to 1947. P. Shilu Ao was the Chairman/President of the Ao Christian
Mungdang (ABAM) Platinum Jubilee Celebration in 1946. In 1948, he joined government service as Inspector of Schools at Kohima where he served till 1949. During this period, he also served as the Pastor in-charge of the Kohima Ao Baptist Church. From 1950 to 1952 he further served as Headmaster of Government Middle School, Wokha.
During 1954 – 1960, he served under the Government of Assam as EAC cum First Class Magistrate.
When the Naga Peoples’ Convention was formed in 1960, he resigned from the Government of Assam service and gave full service to the cause of the Naga people. He was the Chief Executive Councillor of the Nagaland Interim body between 1961-63, during which the process of conversion of Naga Hills district of Assam to Nagaland state took place. In the midst of tremendous hurdles and challenges, he bravely worked for the welfare of the Naga people.
With the attainment of Nagaland statehood in 1963 he was elected from Impur Assembly Constituency as a member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the first state elections of Nagaland in 1964. He then became the first Chief Minister of Nagaland from 1964 to 1966. During his tenure as Chief Minister, the first Cease Fire Agreement was signed between the Government of India and the Federal Government of Nagaland which was formally declared on 6th September 1966.
Following his resignation as Chief Minister, P. Shilu was appointed as Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in 1966. He headed a committee set up by the Planning Commission to appraise the functioning of tribal development programmes in the Third Five Year Plan. Under his Chairmanship, the committee made several recommendations on tribal welfare policy, classification of tribes and on protective and administrative measures for tribal communities.
P. Shilu Ao breathed his last at Mokokchung on 19th September 1988 following a prolonged period of ill health. A rich hero’s tribute, love and respect in traditional manner were paid to him before his body was finally laid to rest at his native village, Longjang in Mokokchung district.
To mark the 25th death anniversary of the great leader which also commemorated the 50 years of Nagaland Statehood a monument in his honour was constructed in Longjang village and was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary of Nagaland, Banuo Z. Jamir, IAS on 1st August 2014.
She termed late P. ShiluAo as a man who excelled and succeeded in his life even though he struggled initially and sacrificed a lot for the people of Nagaland and stated that “We are the beneficiaries of their hard work”. She said that the monument, remembering the great leader
should not only be for the people of Longjang alone but for the whole of Nagaland. She also hoped that such monuments paying tributes and respects to other leaders of the state should also be erected so that they are remembered and the history of Nagaland is passed on to the younger generations.
The epitaph engrained on his monument reads thus: –
As the tide he came, sudden and swift
And left on the seashore a footprint – his legacy;
A student that made once the community proud
An able administrator once in Assam
He was a mentor that flashed across the sky
And illumined the darkened days;
At the helm he stood and steered his people through the stormy sea
As Naga Hills district was converted to Nagaland State
Here lies the great son of the land
In perfect repose
A DIPR feature by Atuzo &