A one-day interaction programme with Collective Leadership members Lt. Gen. (Retd.) VS Atem, VC and Rh. Raising was organised by Tangkhul Katamnao Long Delhi (TKLD) on 13th March 2021 at The Dwaar Centre, Safdarjung enclave, New Delhi. The programme started around 3 pm with TKLD President Masotmi Kashung as the host. Shangshim Shatsang, Home Missionary, Tangkhul Church Delhi said the opening grace and Thotmung Muivah sang a patriotic song which was followed by presentation from TKLD. From this, the speakers VS Atem and Rh. Raising took on respectively.
VS Atem stressed on time management and proper allocation of available resources, given that we are a nation blessed immensely with land, resources, etc. He stressed that one cannot expect to serve the nation after sleeping like a dead log the whole day. He also said that the Naga nation is God’s ANNOINTED NATION and that anyone who has stood against it has faced consequences. He recalls a letter he wrote to Indira Gandhi where he mentioned that he supported her people when they fought against the British but if she takes on supressing the rights of the Nagas, God shall not spare her family and generations following. He deems the deaths of Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi as consequences of Indira Gandhi’s stubbornness. VS Atem mentioned Nehru’s words that even if the heavens fall, he shall not give independence to the Nagas. He went to give examples of statesmen like SC Jamir and Hokishe Sema who are bearing their own share of burden for betraying the nation. He also shared his experience of having tasted God’s grace during Operation Bluebird and Namthilog attack, and further urged everyone to pray for progress for what the national workers are doing. He stated that one shouldn’t despise or hate, mock or speak ill of one’s own nation.
VS Atem reminded the signing of Framework Agreement and how the Indians are now trying to side out from giving in to political defeat. He mentioned few Indian scholars and writers like GK Pillai who have been trying to deconstruct issue-based contexts by putting up arguments on cultural basis. He said, “Terms like sovereignty and peaceful coexistence are being subjectified by the Indians to dismiss the actual cause of the Nagas. Their attempt now is to disintegrate the Nagas, because of which we should take caution and should seek counsel and be mindful of what we speak”.
RH Raising started with emphasizing the importance of getting one’s concept about everything clear. Concept of faith and religion, concept of politics, etc. Raising stated, “God gave Abraham the promised Land. This was the beginning of Israel’s politics. The promise is the word. Do we, the Nagas have this word with us?” He further said that politics determine everything. Resounding a term Ato Kilonser Muivah often mentions, he said that we will become “lost people” if we do not have politics and do not choose to decide our future. That liberation began with the Lord’s teachings. God objects the idea of slavery. He ordered Moses to lead his people to freedom. Meiteis and Indians decide which development comes when and where. He strongly questioned the audience if they get to decide anything and that this is why NSCN has chosen to revolt. He also asserted the importance of having the power to decide for oneself. India is developing steadily because they are determined to bring development but we Nagas do not have the power even if we have the rights. We are slaves even if we are equipped with skills and manpower in plenty. We do not have avenues to grow, to succeed because we are a suppressed people.
Raising talked about nationalists like Jadonang Haipou Rongmei and Daiho who revolted against taxation, and Phizo who stood firm against the Indian Merger Agreement became of which Angamis were tortured. He added, “During initial days of the Naga struggle, Tangkhuls were not in the picture but after condemnation of Shillong Accord, we started taking the lead. We began to stand out. Over time, Martial Law was imposed and Muivah, Isak, Pruning and another khasui were arrested. Also labeled as Mini Muivah, Captain VS Atem was targeted too. These were the worst days Tangkhuls had seen… men were shot down even as women were spared. Luita led the counter revolution to recapture our land”. Raising also mentioned Namthilog attack and Operation Oinam. “Markson urged us to pray for rain at night so that we can open fire. We prayed twice, still there was no sign of rain. We prayed again and it rained the third time. That’s how we won Oinam.
Rh Raising also talked about internal enemies like NSCN K, Unification and NNPGs. Also that frontier organizations were sidelined and a 14-tribe organization was established but it has dissolved now. “On all sides, we are attacked and targeted by the Indians. Hate campaigns are being carried out in many ways but we must keep our faith intact. NSCN is labeled as aggressive but we are not, we are doing what we should for our freedom. We must be a political force that can determine it’s own fate”. He added that we are a people who should control the wave and not be carried away by the wave. That we must have our survival strategy. God’s word is our survival strategy. If our politics is dead, religion dead, culture dead, we are dead. He expressed his appreciation of women, students, the Church and CSOs that have always come out on the roads to fend in times of peril and that everyone is an actor. He reckoned that the public should voice and speak about our nation and our history. That we should present ourselves as a political people. He reminded the audience that we are a nation looking for issue-based solution. That we are not ready for another Shillong Accord and another revolution. He cautioned against big writers who are propagating against the Nagas. And that we must have the wisdom to stand out as a separate nation. “Ultimately the Lord will always be with us. His word always find fulfillment. God is our religion, our politics. His word is the basis of everything”, he concluded.
Shangreiso Kasar, a Government employee rekindles his days of interest in Naga history and its cause. He said that the Nagas have now become identity conscious and we must start exploring other means of channeling our sovereignty. Kasar also posed a question to the speakers if the Leadership is willing to carry out measures to stop opium plantation in our hometown.
Zingkhai, a student contextualized the interview of The Muivah with Karan Thappar. He expressed his fear of having seen our leaders falling down one after another. He mindfully questioned if the elected candidate of NPF is doing what he is supposed to do while in position to support the nation’s cause and suggested if young people who can voice and speak in favor of the nation’s cause should be included too in such platforms.
Dr Yarreiphang Haorei, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi asked how can the youngsters be tapped such that their interest and love for the nation is revived and what can a common man like him do to contribute to the cause of the nation. To this, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) VS Atem jokingly said he also had the same thing in his mind.
While answering to one of the questions, Rh. Raising mentioned that even as seasoned national workers are not highly educated, they have been serving the nation dutifully by God’s given wisdom. VS Atem on one such instance said how they sometimes wish the Ato Kilonser Th Muivah could be four persons. He ended saying, “God will provide for us!”
Thotmung Muivah, near the close of the programme, sang “Ramcho Ramrin” : his own compose. The interaction was attended by a good number of people. Dr Victor Phungshok said the closing grace. Masotmi Kashung, TKLD President appealed the audience to embark on a quote by John F Kennedy : “Ask not what the nation can do for you, but ask what you can do for the nation”. He further stressed the prominence of the nation cause at this juncture.
Tangkhul Katamnao Long Delhi is grateful to each and everyone for the promptness shown by attending the programme. We further make this appeal to everyone that it is time for us to revive our sense of nationalism and socio-political consciousness as we keep supporting the Collective Leadership and keep them in our prayers.