British-Naga friendship survived war; can be strengthened — Rio - Eastern Mirror
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British-Naga friendship survived war; can be strengthened — Rio

By EMN Updated: Jul 02, 2019 10:25 pm
A file picture of Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence KVCO, CB, ADC (P) laying wreath at the WW II Cemetery in Kohima in one of the functions to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kohima.


Tells British people that Nagas will be thinking of them in a special manner on July 4, anniversary of the Battle of Kohima

Dimapur, July 2 (EMN): Even as the British people are set to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kohima at York in England on July 4, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has written a message underscoring the British-Naga friendship that has endured the ravages of war.

On June 29, the government of Nagaland had written a “message of solidarity from the Naga people” to the chairman of Kohima Educational Trust (KET), David Shaw. The KET is an initiative of British veterans, particularly those who fought in the Battle of Kohima. Copies of the letter were made available to the local newspapers on Tuesday.

In the letter, Rio tells Shaw: “On behalf of the Naga people over whose lands this terrible war was fought in 1944, we are sending this brief message to inform that we are thinking of you in a special manner during this occasion.”

He has reminded that Nagaland has started a yearlong 75th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Kohima. “Some of you also honoured us with your presence during the inaugural function in Kohima on April 4, the day the Battle of Kohima began in 1944, with the theme: Remembrance, Reconciliation and Rebirth.

“Our commemoration is continuing with several celebratory programmes engaging all sections of society especially war veterans, students and the youth. The yearlong celebrations will conclude on April 4, 2020. We welcome anyone who may like to join us at any of these events from now till next April,” the letter reads.

Rio has reminded that the sufferings of the people during WW II were severe as two foreign armies fought on Naga lands. “It had great consequences not just for our people but for all those involved in this war and reshaped world history. While the Japanese army suffered their greatest military defeat, Britain herself saw her empire begin to crumble.

“As great as our people’s sufferings were, and their traditional community-based society despoiled forever, Kohima also rose to a place of prominence from being a sleepy little town in 1944. In 2013, British historians voted the Battle of Kohima-Imphal as the most significant in their history. Kohima today is firmly on the world map. And as the dust and din of the fighting have settled, our people are now able to look at the momentous events of 1944 with more objectivity and appreciation for all sides.”

He then goes on to say that British-Naga relations began in the early part of the 19th century. “This relationship has been tried and severely tested mnay times over the years, including by the advent of the Great War and especially during World War II when our lands became the battlefield. But through it all our friendship has endured.”

The chief minister also expresses gratitude to the British veterans and the KET for all the good works they have been doing in Nagaland. The KET scholarship programme alone has benefitted around 800 Naga students till date, he mentions.

“So, with much gratitude in our hearts, we stand in solidarity with you as you remember the events that occurred in our lands 75 years ago. And in this 21st century, we look forward to strengthening our friendship even more across the seas.”

By EMN Updated: Jul 02, 2019 10:25:16 pm