Views & Reviews
You Don’t Have to Defeat India to Restore Naga Independence
Some of our Naga leaders say that it is unfortunately not possible to defeat the might of Indian military which is an accepted reality, and therefore we may put our Naga Sovereignty in cold storage and momentarily forget our Sovereignty until such time India is ready to talk about our Sovereignty. I would say, this opinion and advice of our Naga leaders are very wrong. We need not defeat or even try to defeat India for the restitution of our Naga Sovereignty just as we had in ancient times, and to prove my assertion, please refer the following few points.
For ages, Nagas lived scattered but freely without any bondage. Each village was a republic by itself, self-contained and completely independent of any other foreign countries. There were intermittent skirmishes and warfare against alien intruders. They regularly collected huge tribute payments from the neighboring kingdoms for many centuries. After inflicting some of the fiercest battles for 48 years to the intruding British Govt with effect from 1832, the then British expedition sought peace from the Nagas to end the lengthy wars, culminating in a “no more fight agreement” that was made according our tradition in our favor on 27th March, 1880 at Mezoma Nagaland. The amiable nature of the British warmed up to our people to find an acceptance as a friendly Nation to our land. To ensure a peaceful atmosphere a rule of law was established in our land with our Naga consent. Such a rule of law was never established by way of military conquest or by a treaty terms of surrender, and the Naga Sovereignty has never been compromised.
However, after some years the British Govt unilaterally interpreted the above agreement in their own favour as a small portion of the Western Naga Homeland called Naga Hills District, being made a part of the eastern edge of the British Empire in India. As such a Memorandum was submitted by the Naga Club to the Simon Commission on 10th January1929 which had declared that all the Nagas should be left alone to determine for themselves independently as in ancient times.
Therefore, under the Govt of British India, the “Excluded Area” Act of 1935 passed on the recommendations of the Simon Commission, gave a notification that the “Naga Hills” shall be treated as “EXCLUDED AREA” on 3rd March, 1935. The call to “Leave us alone” for Sovereignty as declared by the Naga Club in 1929 is thus considered the most important written public document in our unique political history. The Naga National Council (NCC) correctly read the legal, political and historical meaning and inferenceof the Sovereign stand of our pioneer forefathers such as Rheichalie Pienyü and others of the Naga Club who hadrightly reaffirmed and expressed our inherent right to sovereign existence.
Accordingly, 18 years later, on August 14, 1947, the Nagas led by the NNC re-affirmed the same position of the Naga Club by declaring our independence and for the sake of further clarification as the situation demanded, the famous plebiscite in 1951 was conducted whereby 99.9 percent of our Naga people voted in favor of Sovereignty and the NNC. The total rejection by the Nagas of the first Indian General Election, soon after matched by the massive Naga resistance in self-defense against the extremely barbaric, violent and oppressive military operation for genocide in our Homeland launched by the Indian Army to snuff out the Naga struggle, abundantly demonstrated that the Nagas meant what they had declared to be their National Independence, a position madevery clearly before the Simon Commission in 1929.
Nagas are clear and justly proud because of their forefathers who had correctly asserted that their struggle was neither an act of secession that unlawfully or treasonously violated some solemn agreement or undertaking made by them to be a part of the new independent India at any time, nor was it an anti-India reaction as they were acting on the basis of unquestionable facts of their history and their right to choose their own future as a good neighbor of India as justified by the facts of their history. We are greatly indebted and grateful to our pioneer forefathers today that we have such an illustrious political history that we can be proud of and a struggle, whose legal and political validities are unquestionable and unchallengeable. Over and above that, our “Naga National Soul” has never been compromised or colonised till date and it shall never be forfeited at any costs.
Let us take East Timor country as an example to respond to the above subject. East Timor was under Portuguese colonisation for more than 400 years and then under Indonesian occupation for 24 years, after which it was recognised by the United States on May 20th, 2002 as an Independent Nation, basically to liberate Timorese from genocide perpetrated by the Indonesian Govt. It is learnt that East Timor’s economy, health and literacy rates were very low before its independence and there was only one physician doctor in the country in 2002. However, today it has a literacy rate of 87 percent among the youth and it became the third highest coffee exporting country, which generates up to 30 million USD a year. From 2005 to 2021, 23 billion USD was earned from its oil sales, all within a span of 20 years of its independence.
The reason why the Naga political problem continues unheard and our Naga Nation unrecognised is because of ourinability to express and capitalise on the horrendous crime of genocide repeatedly committed on our people by the Indian Armed Forces for many years till date, the latest being the Oting massacre in Mon committed on the 4th of Dec 2021. The key therefore lies within us to overcome the trouble hindering the Naga Nation from being recognised by any recognised Nation till date, which is to make such acts of aggression and oppressive atrocities, as well as our inherent factual and historical rights known to the rest of the world.The mandatory qualification to become an independent Nation and Member of United Nations (UN) under International Law is that a Nation has to be formerly recognised by any recognised and existing Independent Nation. For want of this formal recognition, our Naga Nation till date is a Nation in ‘facts and history’ but remain as an unrecognised Nation.
We are not demanding independence from India or demanding recognition from India. Let us take the example of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to clear the cloud in our Naga political scenario. Bangladesh was then demanding independence from West Pakistan (Lahore) for various injustices including unfair prices of jute, apples, and grapes arbitrarily fixed and purchased by Lahore from Bangladeshand then sold in West Pakistan in tenfold, and because of such economic exploitations amongst many others, there were protests in Bangladesh. The protest was followed bymany massacres such as the Bangladesh genocide of 1971, Dhaka University massacre, etc. erupting into a war-like situation which began on 25th March 1971. Since themassacres were committed by Lahore, India had joined the Bangladesh war, a battle for humanity on 3rd Dec. 1971, and the war was ended on 16th Dec. 1971 thus liberating Bangladesh from the atrocious and suppressive dominion by Lahore. It was India, under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi which had recognised Bangladesh as an independent Nation but not Lahore and from that very moment Bangladesh became a Member of UN fulfilling the mandatory requisite of the legality to exist as an independent nation. Bangladesh enjoys enormous support and help fromthe USA today under US Agency for International Development (USAID) in various fields. According to the UNCTAD’s 2019 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to Bangladesh closed at USD 3.61 billion in 2018. Practically the independence of Bangladesh was granted by India. Therefore, it is a terribly wrong and flawed ideological madness to wait for the good mood of India all these years, and be repeatedly victimised for staying in the waiting room to talk about our Naga Sovereignty with India.
We must realise that there can be no “Shared Sovereignty” for the Nagas within the framework of Indian Constitutionexcept in “Sharing the Indian Sovereignty” as an ordinary Indian state. To cite an example, the Island of Niue is an independent island country in South Pacific Ocean having a land area of about 101 sq. miles. Island of Niue is a “Self-Governing Independent Nation State”, having free association with New Zealand and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf with its consent and permit. Island of Niue has its own currency, flag, constitution, citizenship and New Zealand can come in and help Island of Niue in cases of foreign aggression, financial bankruptcy or constitutional breakdown but not without the expressed permission and consent of Niue. Because Niue is a Sovereign Nation, UN Organisations have accepted Island of Niue’s status as a freely associated Nation State, equivalent to independence for the purpose of all International laws. As such, Niue is a Member of some UN Agencies such asUNESCO, WHO, or has the bonafide legitimacy to attend UN’s conferences and Island of Niue has been a Member of the Pacific Community since 1980 as an independent Nation. Island of Niue is the only country in the world which has a “Shared Sovereignty” with another Sovereign Nation. Therefore, if the Nagas were to have a “Shared Sovereignty” with the Govt of India, then they must have their independence in the first place before entering into the “Shared Sovereignty” with any other “Sovereign Nation”. Let us not fool each other with the words “Shared Sovereignty” and “Sharing of Sovereignty” as they are two entirely different matters.
Kuolachalie Seyie. President Naga Club at Western Angami Public Organisation General Meeting at Mezoma on 28th May 2022