COMMEMORATION OF THE NAGA PLEBISCITE. Source: Nagalim Voice May-June 2024

Nagalim Voice May-June 2024

COMMEMORATION OF THE NAGA PLEBISCITE

The 20th century witnessed the change of geopolitical landscape in many parts of the world and also the nationalist development in accordance with the historical and political rights of concern nations. It changed the world in unprecedented ways. The Nagas too were not lacking behind as they exercised their democratic and sovereign rights to find a place in the comity of nations and thus, declared the Naga Independence on the 14th August, 1947 and four years later the Naga Plebiscite was conducted to reaffirm the Naga independence.

The whole process of plebiscite took six months with resounding 99.9 % in favour of Naga independence. The copies of the plebiscite with signatures and thumb impressions were compiled in book form that weighs 80 pounds and dispatched to the UN (United nations). It was also sent to the President of India and the President of the All-India Congress Party. Thus, to avoid any room of underpinning the authenticity of the plebiscite, every requisite process was followed. But India under Jawaharlal Nehru stood against the Naga independence and plebiscite, determined to hold on the Nagas under its dominion power. The successive governments that followed Nehru-led government continues with their aggressive and suppressive hold on the Naga people’s legitimate rights. Significantly, the Naga Plebiscite becomes the foundation for timeless struggle for the historical and political rights of the Nagas. The intensity and passion of the Nagas for freedom simply refused to give way to the interests and convenience of the Government of India.

When the Nagas joined together to commemorate Naga plebiscite after 73 years it become all the more important for the Nagas as the Government of India started going astray from the historic Framework Agreement of the 3rd August, 2015 that it has signed with NSCN with the world community as the witness. Importantly, when this political agreement between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) was signed, the world was made to understand that the Framework Agreement was based on the recognized unique history and situation of the Nagas that was recognized by the Government of India as per the Joint Communique, Amsterdam, July 11, 2002. The historical and political meaning of the unique history of the Nagas means three things: (i) The Nagas are never Indians either by conquest or consent (ii) The Nagas had not accepted the Indian Constitution and join the Union of India and (iii) The Nagas were independent sovereign people as declared on the 14th August, 1947 and reaffirmed on the 16th May, 1951 through plebiscite.

His Excellency, the Vice-Chairman of the NSCN, Mr. Tongmeth Wangnao in his speech said, “Let us praise our Almighty God for giving us the courage to commemorate together the Naga Plebiscite Day after 73 years. May 16, 1951, was a red-letter day in the history of the Naga freedom struggle when the Naga Plebiscite was conducted to reaffirm the declaration of the Naga Independence that was announced before the world on the 14th August, 1947. It was the day the Nagas portrayed themselves loud and clear with their thumb impressions in which 99.9% of the Nagas voted for sovereign Naga nation. This was the occasion of an episode which is more than making a striking statement on Naga independence. It was the most powerful symbol of the Naga people’s inalienable right for sovereignty. Not only does it represent the virtues of being Nagas, it also ignited the flame of irreversible political identity of the Nagas as a sovereign nation”.

The Vice-Chairman also quoted a few lines from the speech delivered by the NNC (Naga National Council) President Mr. AZ Phizo on the Plebiscite Day, the 16th May, 1951.

“…We are here today to reaffirm the stand of the Naga nation that we do not need India and we do not want her. We are here today to prove to India and the world that the Nagas are united and that our nation aspires the same conviction to continue to be independent as a distinct nation as we have always been the sovereign nation state of the Nagas.”

He concluded his speech, “Let the world hear us today. In God’s name we observe the Naga Plebiscite in consonance with the recognized unique history and the Framework Agreement after 73 years. This is to put on record once again the inalienable rights of the Nagas to be a sovereign nation. Thus, the sovereign rights of the Nagas as flaunted on the 16th May, 1951, will continue to remain imprinted indelibly in the psyche of the Nagas. In God who has power and authority over the universe we put our trust”.

Lieut. Gen. Vs. Atem, VC (Retd.), Deputy Ato Kilonser speaks in assertive tone in defining the Naga nationality when he stated that India is a union of states of their own volition and the Nagas are under Indian forcible occupation. But no Naga can be made Indian by force nor can an Indian be made Naga by force. The Nagas have declared their nationality and independence from the British rule on August 14th, 1947. He also added that Nagas has nothing in common with the Indians, be it origin, history, politics and policy, languages, customs or culture. It was only because of the British occupation and their ‘divide and rule’ policy that the Nagas are where they are today. He gave full credit to the NNC leaders who took the right step at the right time by conducting the Naga plebiscite. Driven with passion as a leader, Atem explained: “the dream of the Naga national independence did not happen with a sudden stroke of nationalism in the heart of a leader but it had remained in the DNA of the Nagas”.

Various Naga civil societies/organizations participated in the commemoration of the Naga Plebiscite held at the GHq (General Headquarters), Naga Army and express their deep respect to the NNC leaders for their political foresight.

Global Naga Forum (GNF): The 1951 Plebiscite was a resounding reiteration of the Naga people’s rejection of colonial and neo-colonial rule.

Naga Students Federation (NSF): “Our history is not just a series of events, it is a saga of resilience, courage and unyielding pursue of sovereignty.”

Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA): “This is the day our Naga leaders on the 16th May, 1951, scripted our history, whereby all the Nagas, both men and women came forward to join the referendum for our freedom and sovereignty as a people”.

Naga People Organization (NPO), Lahe Town, Myanmar: “On May 16, 1951 plebiscite, the Naga people voted for their right of self-determination to live as an independent nation”.

United Naga Council (UNC): “The Naga Plebiscite marks a pivotal moment in the history of Nagalim and the Naga people. It was a moment that resonates with the echoes of self-determination and relentless pursuit of freedom. At no point of time, the Nagas were part of the Indian Union or Myanmar (erstwhile Burma), either by consent or by conquest”.

Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)“ …it is most timely and befitting for the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), to be commemorating this 74th Naga Plebiscite Day, for salvaging the cause of the Naga people during its most trying days and challenging years and for proving itself in championing the very spirit of the Naga National Plebiscite”.

The Naga Plebiscite Day was also commemorated in Denmark under the initiative of Mr. Apam Muivah, Steering Committee Member & Co-ordinator Alee (Foreign) Affairs, Europe. Solidarity Message was delivered by General Secretary, UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization).

Looking back into the history of the Naga political movement, the Nagas has not wavered but had fought the good fight against the Indian government all the way down the line. The Nagas, coming together, hand in hand to commemorate the Naga Plebiscite after 73 years is a testimony that the Nagas shall hold fast to the historical truth to keep alive our God-given rights as a nation.

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