Rich floral tribute was paid to the martyrs on the 73rd anniversary of Naga Martyr’s Day at Mao Gate, Senapati district, organised by the Mao Council under the aegis of the United Naga Council (UNC). The 3 martyrs were reportedly shot dead on the spot by the Assam Rifles when they were only exercising their democratic rights against the despotic and autocratic high handedness of the government.
In his keynote address, Dr. Saheni Loli, President, Mao Council stated that in 1948 on this day, “No House Tax Campaign” was organised by the Naga National League, spearheaded by A. Daiho (Mao) as the President, N. Modoli (Poumai), as Secretary against the Manipur Maharaja. People on this day deeply mourn the sad loss of such patriots and brave hearts and those who succumbed to bullet injuries for the nation. On the other side of the coin, the Nagas are proud for their ultimate sacrifice they had made for the nation and keeping the history alive till date.
The Mao Council President honoured the 3 innocent unarmed civilians who laid down their lives and who succumbed to bullet injuries. The 3 deceased were identified as Asiisii Hepuni, Punanamei village, Modo Kholi, Kalinamei village and Mahriili Lohrii, Kalinamei village. 4 others succumbed to bullet injuries. A one minute silence was observed by the entire congregation in honour of the departed souls. The President asserted that the Mao Naga have the spirit of patriotism for the nation since time immemorial and the same spirit is still flowing in the blood of every Mao Naga like any other Naga brothers and sisters. Then, he urged the gathering to come together in love as one family and fight together till an honourable solution is brought. “The Mao people fully support the Framework Agreement signed between the negotiating groups and prayed for early solutions without further delay” he concluded.
Rev. Puni Mao, Member, Collective Leadership in his speech urged all to be righteous if one wants to be a good leader. While urging everyone to study properly, he stated that when the leader is corrupted, automatically, people will mourn in any set organization set up. On this day August 27 in 1948, the first bloodshed happened at Mao Gate in a move against paying house tax to the then Maharaja of Manipur killing 3 civilians on the spot and injured many. Regarding the ongoing peace process between the Govt of India and NSCN-IM, Unique history of the Nagas has been recognised realising military power cannot solve the Naga problem. One of the greatest achievements till date is the signing of the Framework Agreement for “Shared Sovereignty and peaceful co-existence between the two entities.”
Elu Nang, General Secretary, Naga Hoho in his solidarity message stated that if they had not shed their blood, sacrificed their lives, people may not be in this position this day. The elders knew that Nagas were not Indians, never been Indians and will not be Indians that made the commitment to lay down their lives on this day in 1948 for the future generations.
While lauding the leadership of the UNC to be very understanding, looking at the cause of the Naga people, the units of the UNC are stated to be steadfast and firm in their position till date. The Naga Hoho leader put to a question as to why Naga political dialogue got stuck up. While regretting the Naga society to be flooded with propagandas and lies that had not been reasoned out, he urged all to stop creating propagandas and not try to mislead one another. The society would have broken to pieces for misconceptions, misinformation, propagandas and lies that need to sit across the table to sort out the differences. He urged to encourage one another, educate and sensitize one another with correct information, authentic source. People need to come forward and strengthen the peace process by rendering one’s own part for a bright future and not depending on other to bring long lasting solution.
Timikha Koza, President, Tenyimi People’s Organization (TPO) in his speech stated that active dialogue between the northern Nagas and the southern Nagas in the early 1940s had brought the Nagas together. Post declaration of Naga Independence on August 14, 1947 and after signing of the 9 Point Agreement, nothing happened to let people decide under the aegis of the Naga National League. People decided not to pay taxes to the Govt of Manipur but all house tax of the Nagas to be paid to Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hill District in Assam. Govt of India and Govt of Manipur did not like it and turned their guns towards the Naga people and their leaders. The security personnel fired upon the innocent civilians killing 3 and injured many. The memory is still fresh in the minds of the people where the TPO leader stated not to keep away but to hold the torch. The leader is also pained to witness so many talking about tribalism, separatism and individual benefit but in the interest of all when people of the region prayed for ceasefire and peace that actually came.
Siipunii Ng. Philo, General Secretary, Naga Students Federation (NSF) stated that the journey as a people has been a challenge. The Naga youth and students shall remain ever indebted to the martyrs for their supreme sacrifices and shall continue to honour them through the pages of history. Aspirations and hopes of the people are renewed once again with a strengthen sense of direction of hope by their sacrifices. Their blood, shed in tears shall continue to inspire generations to come in the temple of memories. The Naga people in the entire region eagerly await an outcome based on promises of a solution made by the Prime Minister of India and agreement that was honoured the historical and political rights of the Naga people and restore the pride of the Naga without compromising its future.
AC Thotso, General Secretary, All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM) paid respect and love to the families of the martyrs. The ANSAM also extended gratitude to the Mao community for the immense contribution for the Naga movement who always bore the brunt of any movement launched by Naga people. The day brought immense sense of patriotism for the Nagas especially in the southern sector which emerged to be the binding movement about oneself, history and to determine oneself.
Asha Wungnam, President, Naga Women’s Union (NWU) in her speech stated to respect and honour the supreme sacrifices made on this day for the cause of the nation. Their contribution and services shall always be remembered, she mentioned. They had shown the way to live independently. They fought the good fight for the sake of future generations. People follow their footprint, she added.
Kho John, President, UNC in his speech called the day a great landmark for the Nagas and history of the Naga political movement particularly of the south Nagas. The event took place during the most critical time in the Naga political history which took place in Delhi and Mao Gate simultaneously. 3 civilians were killed and injured many where many succumbed to bullet injuries. The day has been observed as Naga Martyr’s Day that happened 73 years ago. In remembrance of the departed souls, people come together and pay respect and honour to them with condolences to the grand children of the bereaved. The UNC leader urged for involvement of the masses, support, prayer support, moral support and physical support to bring an honourable solution to the vexed Indo-Naga political problem.
Solidarity messages were shared by Naga People’s Organization (NPO), Senapati District Student’s Association and the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights. Other church leaders and village leaders of the Mao community apart from apex CSOs attended the program.