Kohima: Former chief minister (CM) of Nagaland and lone surviving member of the Naga People’s Convention (NPC), Dr SC Jamir, on the occasion of the 71st Republic Day celebration expressed concern over the distortion of Naga history by “vested interests”. Jamir, who was conferred Padma Bhushan on the eve of R-Day, was also felicitated by the governor of Nagaland and Meghalaya RN Ravi along with 20 Naga personalities.
“Over the years, the 16th Point Agreement had been scorned and maligned by vested interests and even including those who are enjoying the fruits of statehood,” said Jamir as he addressed the governor’s ‘At Home’ on Sunday at Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
“I am the only living signatory to the 16th Point Agreement of 1960, 1 feel it my bounden duty to place on record the incontrovertible reality that the NPC always dedicatedly endeavoured to create a favoured political environment in the areas so as to lucidly and unequivocally highlight the foundational basis of the legitimate demands and long felt political aspirations of the Naga people before the government of India,” he added.
Jamir said that “widely acknowledged, hugely debated and often irrationally maligned” 16 Point Agreement was “developed after exhaustive and widespread deliberations by the representatives of the 16 tribes of Nagaland” and that the “unanimous resolution of the Naga People’s Convention was to salvage the hopes and aspirations of the Naga people” adding that after examining the historical and political records of the Naga National Council, the NPC included “Article 371 (A) as one of the most important demands during the negotiation with the Prime Minister of India in 1960”.
He then said that the younger generation, especially the young political leaders of the state should clearly understand how and why the Naga People’s Convention emerged in the Naga political scenario. He narrated that the “entire population had to face acute famine” leading to starvation and death as “cultivations were denied” and “male folks were either herder to jails or engaged in forced labour”.
Jamir pointed how the “ignoble sufferings and hardships” of the Nagas went “unseen, unheard, unknown and uncared by the outside world even the general public of India”. He said that at a time when fear and suspicions dominated the minds and souls of the people, the NPC was “organised and operationalised to redeem the pride and honour of the Nagas”.
He recounted: “There was only two options left – either to surrender and again become district of Assam or find an alternative to safeguard the political entity of the Nagas,” adding that with the decision they made, there is an elected government to shape the future of the Nagas.
“The greatest need in the current political scenario in Nagaland is to recognise and conform with the contemporary realities and steer with them. All indications show that we are on the threshold of a new dawn for a united, peaceful and progressive Nagaland and in this new dispensation the people of Nagaland in general and the leaders in particular should completely bury their hatchets and with true Christian spirit reinvent, redesign and revolutionize the new Nagaland to measure up to the sanctity of the declaration of our churches ‘Nagaland for Christ’,” he added.
Metaphorically comparing the slips between cup and the lips to that of the Naga politics, Jamir said: “NPC was sure of its hands, cups and content. But cup in the hands of the underground continues to avoid the lips.”
On the eve of R-Day, Jamir was conferred with the third highest civilian award ‘Padma Bushan’ in the field of public affairs, along with 16 other personalities.