Kohima: Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) celebrated the 73rd Naga ‘Independence Day’ at the Naga Solidarity Park in Kohima on Wednesday. The programme began with the unfurling of the Naga ‘national flag’ by NSF president Ninoto Awomi and was attended by hundreds of students.
In the presidential address, Awomi said, “We are the voice of the younger generation that have witnessed so many generations of conflict. We are a generation which have been tempered by war, torn apart and disconnected by territorial lines, and beaten down in numbers by decades of bloodshed and violence.”
“It is in this light that today we observe our Independence Day to express the will of the Naga youths in good faith and prayer that the World shall bear witness and in fair judgement, honour our unique history, our identity, our culture and our political goals,” Awomi added.
“Let it be known to each and every individual that our right to self-determination is justified on account of our unique history, culture and political goals as declared to the world on the 14th August 1947, when the Nagas declared themselves free from any imperialistic forces and on 16th of May, 1951, through the Naga National Plebiscite when 99.9% of the Nagas reiterated our right of a sovereign independent Nation under the noble leadership of Lt AZ Phizo. We once again urge the governing bodies of the world to honour the Naga historical and political rights and restore the pride of the Naga people,” he said.
“We have placed our confidence in the ongoing peace process to take the aspirations of the youths for an inclusive and honourable solution,” he added.
Stressing that over 70 years have elapsed under the political control of the government of India, Awomi urged the need for “economical, cultural, geographical, infrastructural development and political stability”.
Peace activist Niketu Iralu, who was the speaker on the occasion, said, “Although I believe most Nagas today do believe the journey is right and important for the Nagas, many are rightly confused and plainly angry it has become so divided and destructive to itself and the people for whom it was launched in the first place. Unhappy questioning of the legacy of the journey, meaning the struggle, is becoming stronger than appreciation for it.”
Citing historical references, Iralu added: “The Naga struggle was something the Nagas had never done before. Their struggle ran into economic, political, historical, philosophical, moral and ethical issues they had not anticipated, given the brevity of their modern history. The tragedy beyond our human wisdom to deal with has been our failure to acknowledge our mistakes but becoming so loud in our accusation and blaming of others for their mistakes due to our ego, pride, selfishness and ambition which have become more important than the larger vision of our struggle.”
While saying that India is not to be blamed, Iralu maintained, “India also cannot blame the Nagas and treat their struggle as secessionist troublemaking because they had made their position abundantly, legally, politically clear before the British whom they had fought, left their empire in South Asia of which the Nagas were a part.”
Earlier, Nagaland commissioner M Patton, through a letter dated August 13, addressed all district commissioners said that the hoisting of Naga National flag by students could create “unwanted situation and may lead to grievous law and order problem”.
NSF general secretary Liremo Kikon confirmed that the NSF federating units celebrated the Naga ‘Independence Day’ peacefully across the state and hoisted the Naga ‘national flag’ in their respective areas. However, the police — near Kohima College — were seen stopping cars and removing car stickers that had the Naga ‘national flag’ pasted on the windshields.
Meanwhile, the Naga National Council/Federal government of Nagaland (NNC/FGN) also celebrated the day at Peace Camp, Chedema.