Global Naga Forum (GNF) has issued as public “statement today against the imposition of Hindi in the Naga homeland”.
“How does the Home Ministry in Delhi get to impose Hindi in the schools of the Northeast?,” asked GNF. The forum said it “strongly” opposed the imposition of Hindi in the state of Nagaland and the “Naga homeland”.
“But let’s start from the beginning because history matters, and in this case the past has caught up with the present with vengeance,” said GNF. According to the Naga forum, in the early 1950s, Mahasabha activist Bhuddeshwar Gohain, headmaster of Seikho Government High School in the then Tuensang Frontier district, wrote to Prime Minister Nehru: “I am glad to note that the cries of Naga Independence have been crushed by the Military, but there still remains the most powerful support of future revolt, which I’m sure the Military cannot win. This is Christianity…. It will be wise, in my opinion, to check and replace the Christian culture immediately with the national culture. Education in this district should be immediately freed from Christian influence even with the help of the Military when essential.”
GNF then said it “welcomes” the study of any language in the “Naga homeland” — Indian as well as world languages. GNF further said it very much encourages teaching the rich oral traditions and literatures of the Northeast, India, Myanmar, and the world. According to the forum, this is because a healthy democracy depends on two groups of people. GNF also stated that an educated citizenry who respects and values the best ideas that human beings have written about, led by a team of capable public leaders working to promote the common good at home and beyond. “This distinctive human endeavor for excellence and for peaceful coexistence among nations with immensely diverse languages, cultures, and religious beliefs has been going on for millennia,” it also said. “It is called human civilization,” the forum added.
GNF then said India has contributed to the history of civilization with distinction — in the past. But the Naga forum said the current BJP government’s arbitrary decision to impose something like the teaching of Hindi on the eight states of the Northeast does not advance human excellence or respectful co-existence among the diverse linguistic and cultural groups India is known for. GNF further said that it has nothing to do with the goals of collaborative good government either. GNF also said the decision has everything to do with the BJP’s vision of a monolithic Hindu India and a RSS-driven “national culture” that the Mahasabha argued for in Tuensang seven decades ago.
GNF also said Home Minister Shah’s effort is the latest version of the 1950s project of Hinduizing the Naga homeland, which is now being expanded to cover the whole of the Northeast. “We said history matters. People who study Indo-Naga relations will easily identify three major weapons in the arsenal of India’s campaign against the Naga people’s movement for self-determination,” GNF added. “First, military force to crush a democratic, political struggle. After more than six decades working under the protection of the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Indian armed forces have mostly completed the job,” said the forum, while adding, “Yet, the AFSPA remains in place and the Naga homeland continues to be increasingly militarized”. This is because, according to GNF, for the Government of India, militarization of the northeast region has now acquired a function beyond the Naga issue.
GNF alleged that the Northeast has been turned into a boot camp for the Indian Army. It further said that the second item in the anti-Naga arsenal has been the Indian Intelligence Bureau. “Its role was, and is, to create divisions among the Nagas every which way, and Government of India in tow with a free cash flow to change and corrupt Naga traditional values and governance system,” GNF further alleged. “The Bureau helped bring a section of Nagas under a new governance structure in 1962-63, the Indian state of Nagaland,” it added. GNF also said “this mission of dividing and corrupting the Nagas” has been accomplished with remarkable success for Government of India but irreparable harm to the Naga society.
What remains then is the third weapon: bringing Naga society in alignment with Hindu India, according to GNF. It also said this project was delayed under Indian Congress party rule, but has now been revived with passion by the BJP. “A Hindi-Hindu-centric national education in Nagaland and the whole of the Northeast is the BJP’s current goal, and making Hindi compulsory is an intentional step in that direction,” the forum further said.
GNF then said, “In light of this unbroken history of Government of India’s systematic abuse of the Naga people’s right to self-determination on every front, GNF strongly opposes the imposition of Hindi in the state of Nagaland and the Naga homeland”. The forum also said the BJP’s current move will be the final phase, the beginning of the end, of Naga existence as a people. “We therefore invite all Nagas, in the homeland and around the world, to ponder these two questions: Who are the Nagas? What are Nagas becoming?”, the GNF public statement concluded.