Phizo's plebiscite speech
A.Z. Phizo, President,
NAGA NATIONAL COUNCIL,
16 May 1951.
Uncles, aunties, friends, brothers and sisters,
Today is a great day for our people. Throughout Nagaland our people are ceremoniously observing this day May 16 as the day of our Plebiscite Day, which we are going to record by taking the thumb impression of our people. This we are doing to show India and the world of our aspiration and that there is an effective unity of the people in Nagaland.
We have been living as a subject nation for the last 70 years. Our country was an Independent country before the British conquered us with superior force of arms. The British left our country and India in the year 1947. Without making any special arrangement for our country the British abandoned us and we found ourselves under the mercy of the Indian people.
Our Naga people (the British subject Nagas) have demanded independence from the British on many previous occasions. Unfortunately, we never put it on record as our people are not accustomed to writing. The only written record submitted by our people to the British Government was submitted in the year 1929 January 10 when “SIMON COMMMISSION”, under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon, came here in Kohima seeking our people’s opinion about the “New Reform” – as it was called. Our Naga people demand Independence and said, “LEAVE US ALONE, AND WHEN YOU – the BRITISH - LEAVE US WE SHALL BE FREE AND INDEPENDENT AGAIN.”
A long struggle has followed with the march of history and we have fully kept pace with it. When the Japanese Imperial forces smashed the British defences and reached Burma, some of us took full advantage of it. The Japanese forces along with the Indian National Army, better known as the INA, fully co-operated with us and as a result of our concerted action most of Nagaland as far as Kohima was freed from the dominating control and influence of the British. In this connection, I may say a word concerning strategy. Our country was and still is supposed to be a strategic area. The experience of the last war (World War II) has belied this popular belief. Strategy depends more upon the people, it is not merely a question of geography or location.
I am not going into details of our past experiences with India especially since 1947. Prior to the transference by the British of their administrative authority and controlling over - that is, military and police - into the hands of Indians, we had talked to the British for our Independence. But there again we made a mistake. We had not put it in writing for record. Anyway, we the Naga people declared ourselves Independent on the 14th of August, 1947, and on the same day we informed India by telegram, and cabled to UNO for information and record.
Since then, we have tried to settle our political issue with India on various occasions. But we have not been successful. As a result we have gathered here together in order to try to convince India of our inherent right to be free and equal to any other nation as a distinct people. This time, and from now on, we shall put everything into writing. We shall see to it that our talk do not end in mere words.
In the name of the NAGA NATIONAL COUNCIL and on behalf of the people and citizens of NAGALAND I wish to make our stand and our national position perfectly clear. We are a democratic people, and as such, we have been struggling for of a Separate Sovereign State of Nagaland in a democratic way through constitutional means as it is so called. We shall continue to do so.
On many occasions we have been accused by the press in India that we were a troublesome people and that our “movement” for Independence must be stopped. Many Indian leaders told us that we the Nagas are “Indians” and that Nagas can never be allowed to become independent. Some Indian leaders say that even Hyderabad had to submit to the Indian union just as the rest of the Indian princely States, which number over 500, had to submit.
When we examine those rapacious assertions, accusations and misapprehensions we find that the Indians do not know the Nagas. India tried to stop our Independence, they are still trying; and, they will probably continue to do so. The British tried to keep Indian independence in their own hand. They thought they could remain in India forever to come, that was why they, the British, built such cities as Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Delhi and the rest of all the modern Indian towns and cities. Roads were constructed, Railways were laid out, and Companies with capitals running into millions of pounds in gold came into existence. All those are now in the hands and under the authority of the Indians. Such is history. Simply because a strong people got the control of political administration of a country over a weaker people it does not mean the end of history. The history of progress and freedom have been written and will continue to be written. Most of the histories of human freedom were recorded in human blood. Most of the foundations of free nations were built on human bones and crushed skulls. But we want our national independence to remain holy and pure. We do not want to mix freedom, and our independence, with human blood. We do hope we shall not be compelled to live on a structure founded on human skulls and bones. We are determined to extricate ourself clear with understanding, by goodwill and through reason, so that we may continue to live in freedom and enjoy national independence.
We want our Indian brothers and sisters to know that we are not their enemy. We want the world to know that there is civilization in Nagaland. Academically backward though we may be, it is up to us to show to the world that we are not a people which has lost its raison d’etre. We are alive.
We never feared India; and, of course there is no reason for the Nagas to fear India in this human struggle for maintaining our political independence. Just as much as you cannot see a black spot in clear water, likewise, we cannot have a black spot of fear in our mind of clear conscience. I always have a feeling that God, our Heavenly Father - our creator - is with us and guiding us. What is there for us to fear? Only a murderer and people of evil intent can have fear and suspicion in his mind. We do not belong to a criminal race. And there is no ground for the Nagas to be worried or to fear the millions of Indians in this struggle to retain our Independence. We also appeal to India to be sane and wise. We appeal to them that they should be human and not brutes. We appeal to India to be a free people with a real feeling of independence in which there is no place for suspicion or fear. The Nagas do not ask Independence from India; indeed, we do not want anything from India. India has nothing to give away to Nagaland. We are Independent and sovereign in our own national right. What we ask is not to interfere our administration but leave us alone and allow Nagaland, the national state of the Nagas, to continue to exist in peace and make progress without hindrance.
The present discord between Nagaland and India is not a natural consequence of inevitable history conflict. It is the result of the break-up of the British Empire in the East and the issue is entirely of British creation but more of the callousness of the British government toward the Asiatic people of their contemptible subjects that we have been. Now that India is free, we appeal to them to exercise their sovereign right to let the Nagas continue to remain free and independent which, in verity, is in keeping with the precept of Mahatma Gandhi’s creed of “Non-violence”. Should we seek a better example than of the British who granted political independence to India? The British possessed India and ruled over it for a long period stretching over 200 years; whereas Nagaland, it is not an Indian colony.
As for the question of race, the less we talk the better. It is an undeniable fact that the Nagas are not Indian. We distinctly and unmistakably belong to the great Mongolian family. Strictly speaking, the world has come to know that the question of nationality is not a question of racial purity of a people. Also, the most important thing to consider is not merely one of politics but it is rather a problem of biology and psychology. To live together in peace different people must have the same attitude and the same feeling: there must be tolerance. Between the Indians and the Nagas, I am sad to say, these are lacking. Nagas found it impossible to tolerate the Indians. This is our experience in the last 70 years ever since our people came to know them. The Indians have no human feeling in them and their attitude is anti-social. There are, undoubtedly, many good Indians who understand us; but we do not live together with those good men.
The question whether the Nagas will or will not be allowed to maintain our independence remains to be seen. If free India wishes to be a leader in this word’s affairs, particularly in Asian affairs, India cannot sidestep the voice of Nagaland upholding the national right of the Nagas. It is not merely a claim. If India honestly believes that “TRUTH TRIUMPHS” (which is inscribed in the official Emblem of the Republic of India) the truth of Naga existence and the need of freedom cannot be buried in secret. India cannot ignore the national state of Nagaland and continue talking Mahatma Gandhi, Non-violence and Democracy.
The position of Nagaland and the Naga case have no comparison anywhere in the word where a human race newly emancipated like India try usurp its neighbour country of a sovereign state like Nagaland all because of the vast wealth of mineral of resources in our country which the manumitted Indians have come to know and they wanted to grab it by any means. Leaving aside the distinctiveness of our nation as a race and Nagaland as a country, our native right over our own national territory that had been clearly demarcated 400 years ago cannot be superseded by India. The Indians have no vested interest in our country and there is not a single Indian nationality who own an acre of land in our Nagaland. Prior to 1947, that is, when the British were yet here, no Indian is allowed to enter Nagaland without a special permit and that good Regulation (which was in force before Naga territory was annexed) still happily prevails up to this day.
If this world is to have peace and goodwill toward one another, the will of the people and nation must prevail.
India puts forward various arguments in their attempt to confound us.
1. The first argument is about the “menace” of China and Burma. They always say this trying to scare us which we do not have the least thing to worry.
2. The second argument is what they called “strategy” for security of India. Just as much as India needs precaution for her security other countries also require the same precaution. At Least, Nagaland cannot permit India to build up military strategy in our country against Burma or China whose people are our own blood relatives. We have another neighbour in the south west which is Pakistan. We have no quarrel with them. Whether China, Burma or Pakistan, these neighbours have not given us any trouble and we are certain that they have no evil design to annex Nagaland. Whatever it is, we cannot allow India to build up military defence in Nagaland not only against our good neighbours but for our own safety as well. Our country can easily become a graveyard and we, on our part, are determined to prevent it.
3. The third Indian argument is about economy. The Indians say that Nagaland cannot maintain itself economically as if we are a sort of just crawling out from a hole. Their talk is nothing but insult. The truth is, Nagaland had never been dependent on India at any time in history. These are problems decent people do not argue and try to grab other people’s territory. In matters of maintenance, or to be more precise, the question of finance for a state, I cannot do any better than quote His Excellency Shri C. Rajagopalachari (the former Indian Governor-General known to all of us) who said in his famous book the “Reconciliation” -
“The notion that any State can be self-sufficient in resources is illusory. It is born of the habit of thinking in terms of property. Sovereignty does not exclude trade and communications and commerce. The right to rule one-self should not be mixed up with economic Independence.”
Fortunately, Nagaland is a surplus country in matters of food and in other daily necessities that makes life happier. We have a vast area of Oil deposit and we have been burning oil long before the British appeared in our country. The Indian government have already brought in other foreigners of Oil drillers and Geologists and they have shamelessly started exploiting our oil resources. Many of you have seen, and all of you know that drilling has been going on in Chumukedima, 37 miles from here. Drilling is being carried out against our strong protest. We hope it shall not turn out to be another Anglo-Iranian sort of affairs. The position is very serious. We have foreseen the danger long before. There are coal deposits throughout Nagaland. The present coal mine is only a small fraction what we have. For oil we just dig with hand and draw out, that is why we call it “digged-water” (to tzü). Our people still continue manufacture salt for culinary purpose for its effect on health though not on the same scale as in the ancient days due to cheap salt in the market which are imported. Yet we need not import even salt in this landlocked State of ours. We have mica, gas, lime, iron ores, nickel and many other essential materials for which India has an eye on our land.
What worries us is not poverty as everyone of our citizens knows this fact. Overabundance in natural resources of modern military which exist in our country so plentifully causes us much concern. The simple fact is that Nagaland is not yet internationally recognized and free India is trying to take advantage of us.
The Indians insolently told us that China and Communism may take possession of Nagaland sooner or later, therefore, India must occupy it first ! This line of argument is grossly vulgar on their part. Simply because India is afraid that China may take possession of Nagaland or “may come to wield influence over the Nagas,” as they say, will it be the right thing for India to deny us our birthright and deprived us our independence. ?
Being a nation the Nagas have their own distinct way of manners and living; and it is quite possible that we think differently in many respects.
In our country, land belongs to the people as private property, and every family possesses land. We uphold every person as sovereign: man and women alike. Every family is a landlord; but, there is no landlordism in Nagaland.
Democracy is the very spirit in our country. Land being so owned by the people who are in their person sovereign, there is a sound economic basis and there is no room for anyone to grudge or complain against social injustice. If our Naga civilization is not destroyed there is no possibility for any section of our people to become servile or entirely dependent on someone.
Over and above these, the system of our Naga community organisation, which is rooted in the humane principle of individual responsibility, sharing collectively the common weal and woe together, had stood the test of time without waver throughout those centuries of great changes.
The system I refer to is our village and community - group (Thino) organisation. Who is there among us who does not feel proud of this national institution of ours? The organization is not only a social system of a kind. Our community-group system is a living and dynamic institution which makes you love your country and your nation so intensely. Out of this we grow and our society generates a spontaneous feeling that gives you real sense of happiness. There is a compelling sense of responsibility in us toward our fellow citizens which our people happily share in common. It arouses a joyous urge to be of service to others and give our help the best possible. Do our people feel satiated with life ? This had not been our experience. We are very happy as we are. We feel joyous with our social institutions and we want to safeguard it and preserve it. It is precious to us.
We never hear suicide in Nagaland. There must be a reason. Not only in youth alone but you are never a finished product even in your old age because there is an undiminished consciousness of the social link of youthful bloom in the perpetual companionate association with your fellow man day after day, month after month and with the change of seasons without end, singing even in your work regardless of how heavy the work may be. In fact, the heavier the work the more joyous we sing together. In all things, your community-groups stand by you, laugh and cry with you, so you are with them, throughout life. You enjoy your life’s span till the last day comes to leave this earth. Was there any Naga who was ever abandoned on the day he died? Not that we know of even a single instance, it is unthinkable to our society: because we are a proud people, proud in the sense that we respect human personality, the personality that makes the fragile man altogether a different creature from the rest of powerful animals.
To abandon the dead is irreligious, a dishonour to the Creator. To ignore the living is still worse, it is a disgrace to the community and nation. It mocks human personality. Indifference toward human personality, the abode of man’s soul, is not only ignominy to our society’s viewpoint (themia pese kechü-a kenyü) but it inflicts injury to one’s sense of love and justice which are the hallmark of a mature people.
We do not like to mention about the Indians at all at any time. We have nothing to do with them. But it is only for them alone that we are taking all these unnecessary troubles. The Indians repeatedly tell us that we cannot manage our national state, and all that. But what we see in India? Their dead bodies are abandoned to the jackals in the fields. Those who die in the hospitals, even their own relatives very often refuse to claim them! Millions of their sons and daughters are pitifully roaming about in the streets in their awful cities begging and stealing. Why? No work, no land, no self-respect. The more sturdy woman becomes prostitute and even then it is considered as an honourable profession to give happiness to their male population. The Indian mind greatly differ from the way we judge things. We refer to their society, their national characteristics, and not to the weakness of individual person. And this is not to traduce them but they must know that Nagas are not ‘fools’ to be bluffed or frightened to give away their fatherland. Their society is absolutely their own concern. We thought helpless humanity is to be pitied whatever race they may belong to; but when these hopeless race wanted to grab our national state and usurp our birthright by sheer force of preponderant might, why! it is entirely a different matter. It is a challenge to human integrity. No amount of sacrifice is too high to save one’s national honour and preserve one’s hearth and home so that the posterity may continue to live in honour and in peace and enjoy their birthright.
NAGAS DO NOT WANT to be associated with, much less to become citizens, of a people who have no sense of human honour in their make-up, and no human compassion even toward their own sons and daughters. We must yet believe that the Indian leaders will adhere to Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of “Non-violence” and fulfill Gandhiji’s promise to the Nagas that India will not attack the Nagas; yet, Mahatma Gandhi is no more. And, we must look into the background of the Indian civilization and see the heart of their people: the core of nationhood in being.
It is a practice in India to kill their daughters because they cannot marry them; that means, they have no tolerance, no consideration even toward womanhood who the very fountain of their posterity. Their men are so selfish that they will not marry unless the wife to be brings wealth which they call “dowry” for the price of marrying her, and, it is almost always the case the girl does not know the man who it to be her husband. A man old enough to be her grandfather is often represented to her as a handsome young boy. That is the way the Indian do business and they consider such tactics as skillfulness ! The selfishness reveals more tragically on the last day the man leaves this world. His wife is burned alive on his funeral pyre. All these go to prove that the core of their heart or the basis of their civilization is intolerant.
What we see in other established institutions in Indian? In their Courts of law the learned Lawyers are there whose profession is to defend their clients. To defend another person is a most noble mission, but instead of looking to the human side of helping and defending their clients it become rather a general practice to mulct their clients through various dubious means who place themselves at their mercy ready to bead and pay any fee within their means. This is especially done by dragging the cases calling it ‘postponement’ and the law become expensive for the poor; thus, the lawyers failed in their responsibility never trying to obtain a quick decision. Or all the professions, the Lawyers and the Pleaders hold the highest respect in the Indian society, but these learned man instruct their clients to tell lies to outwit their opponents. This learned and noble profession was so prostituted that the former British regime in our country never allowed the Indian lawyers to come to Court of law in “Naga Hills Excluded Area” and our Naga people have been saved from the immoral practice of telling lies to deceive one’s opponents like in India. And we are to take note that almost every Indian leader is a lawyer, and these learned people, who search for a flaw in legal system or try to produce one when there is none, are the leaders of their great country today. This is the danger. We already see their tactics.
In the “Charitable Hospitals” also the Indian doctors are there who see the patients as a diseased body and not as fellow human beings who need one’s tender care. Every one of us knew all these. What is the lot of the Indian cultivators? They are mere tenants in their own soil and not the sovereign owners of their own land as in our country. Most of the Indians live in rented houses in all the towns and cities though they may appear to the onlookers as ‘big gentlemen’ behaving and speaking very good English like the British. Leaving aside other considerations, the whole trouble with the Indians is they are not trustworthy. They never keep their word. In the last World War II also our people have been cheated crores (millions) of money in labour and contract works. Many of you have suffered tens of thousands of rupees and you have failed to recover it.
What substance is there in the India civilization? Any thing to yearn for? The Indians are not a happy people. It may have nothing to do with race as much, but they have miserably failed to develop a civilization that makes their people happy. We have nothing to do with them but we the Nagas do not want them to disturb us. We dearly love our pristine nationhood which should not be tarnished with a world splitting culture, which divides man, and not unite them.
We would not have gone to the extent of mentioning all these about the India society and about their country what is patently knows to everyone of us so long ago had they not shamelessly told us again and again that the Nagas cannot exist without India! We do not like to talk about India: let them be anything, we simple do not need them and we do not want them. A self-respecting people understand these human feelings but we have to watch India. We hear the Indians say in Shillong : “Naga log machines gun-se khatam kardena hoga.” (The Nagas shall have to be finished by machine guns).
Whereas Nagaland ought to have enjoyed unruffled peace for generations to come without end, being surrounded by world’s biggest nations around us (in matters of human population), it is unfortunate that the Indians, who alone are one-fifth of world population, seem to be determined to quarrel with so small a nation even like us.
In 1879 the Indians came and killed our people as the British mercenary soldiers. There are our fathers here standing among us today who personally saw the battle. In the last World War II again how they behaved is fresh in your memory in spite of stern discipline under the British officers. These are bygone experience. But, now that they are free and independent, and they threaten us that they have three million men under arm, which is quite possibly as high as Five million – if police force is included, these are terrible things even to hear them talk. We wanted to avoid any sort of a clash if humanly possible. And, it remains to be seen what Indian Government will do as the government of the one of the eldest family of civilized people on earth.
It is needless to say, we love to retain our Naga age-old culture of classless society as we are, in the spirit of true sisterhood and as brothers to one another.
We like to follow our own form of civilization wherein one need not worry for his and her needs or fear another person. Neither do our Naga society dehumanize another person and forced him or her to resort to begging. We have no lawless problem to deal with and we are happy to see our citizens for all these.
There is no death sentence in Nagaland and we must hope and work for it that this will continue. Life to us represents prestige and honour: it is not merely an animal body of flesh and blood for self-enjoyment. Life is such a serious matter that wanton killing can easily precipitate a local clash. Even a small boy among us understands the implications that involve human integrity.
Being a democratic people, our Naga people are highly disciplined. This did not come easily, that we all know. We are strong enough to be very individualistic but we also know that man cannot live by himself alone. We had to abide by community and public opinion and our fathers struggled hard for all these good things our nation enjoy today. We have learned that every individual citizen has a responsibility toward others, not alone to be kindly but give our best possible help to each other. Nagas uphold that every human being is sovereign and equally precious regardless of his and her social position. We never needed police force to maintain peace, law and order because we are ready to defend ourself and always ready to defend others. As it is, our country is so calm and peaceful that we cannot imagine if we will ever have to worry for personal danger even in future. It is not so secure in many countries. We uphold that it is an honour to recognize the dignity of personal responsibility, and we consider as a privilege to be of service to others which our culture has given the expression we call “mhosho” - to excel (mho, overhead; so, touch). Was there any Naga citizen who over fallen into trouble and left to his and her own fate? This did not happen in our memory. Wherever a need or trouble arise, is it not the responsibility of that community to attend to it wherever it may be? Every citizen realizes his and her responsibility toward fellow countrymen and countrywomen without fear. To do good to others, to stand by them and be ready to live or die together if need be, is the highest culture any nation could wish to have. You and I find it difficult to love our enemy; but to get an opportunity to help that enemy is a rare privilege in trying “to excel” to do good to a fellow man. I call this a great civilization. These are expressed, to be sure, not in the spirit of boasting our national culture but for certain necessity because there are people who have a wry notion about us and we want them to come and see our country with their own eyes.
In a truly democratic society police seams to be somewhat out of place as in a small country like ours. Whatever may develop in future, our community must be sensibly alive all the time as in the past. We must see to it that no section of people be dehumanized to the level of begging or condemned below the social statues of other fellow citizens to be content with his or her helpless lot. This is a responsibility our “community-groups” understand and we must be all the time on the alert to stand by others.
There is no pauper in Nagaland. There is no social ‘out-cast’ in our country. There are no professional beggars up to this very day. There is no families who are houseless anywhere throughout Nagaland. There are no landless persons among us. We do not pay even land tax, which is always a crushing burden to the mass citizens in many other countries. We have no unemployment problem. Economically, Nagaland is on a strong foundation. And, no Naga wanted the Indian immigrants to migrate in Nagaland. It will not help India in any way; not only that, it will disturb the whole Nagaland.
In 1948 also we have informed the Indian Government that Nagaland cannot accept the Indian excess population. Our country is too small. This is not an issue on a question of humanity. What all of us know need not to be repeated. Even if we do give away our country to India, it will not do any good. It will not solve Indian problem; it will not serve the world or create an atmosphere for world peace in which every nation is deeply interested including our country.
Indian immigration to Nagaland by force will only create tension, a problem which did not exist in the last thousand years of human history. We do not want any tension to arise between India and Nagaland; and, we do not want India to create situation in Nagaland.
India is already too congested. While we look to the birth of a child to a family as a great blessing, the birth of a child to the Indian family is a curse to their parents because they cannot feed them; particularly, a girl is considered the greater curse, and very often these daughters are killed by their own parents. It is a paradox that the only thing the Indians produce in excess is more Indians whom they themselves do not want it, but they cannot stop producing them more and more. We all know that India, as a country is a vast country, a very big country, in itself. It is almost three times as big as the whole Great Britain, France and Germany combined together. But their race have been multiplying so fast that their country cannot feed its population instead of producing more than enough foods by such a vast family of man. When a river rises up the danger is not in the riverbed but damage is done to the surrounding bank of the river; that is where we found ourself today.
India wanted to dump her excess population in Nagaland as well as exploit the rich natural resources in our territory. This is so dangerous that it threatens our very existence. Being a small nation (almost a 1000th part of India), we can easily be submerged and get lost: our culture, our civilization, our institutions, our nation and all that we had struggled and build up as we are today will be perished without the least benefit to mankind. And, these we shall lost it not happily but in anger and in perpetual sorrow. If such a day were to be forced on us, God forbid it would have been better none of us were ever born into this world.
We have been threatened with violence.
And, we have weighed and considered everything carefully and all of you know our position. To GIVE AWAY NAGALAND to please India IS NOT THE SOLUTION. You all know that our Naga Delegation met His Excellency, the Governor-General of India, Shri C. Rajagopalachari at Government House in Shillong, only 18 months ago, on November 28, 1949, and we stated to His Excellency,
“Nagas shall not buy friendship with their territory.”
This is not an individual family matter: it concerns one whole nation - and a very small nation at that - it needs great precaution. The crisis facing our nation concerns not only of this generation but it concerns our posterity. As our fathers braved in their generations and handed us down a heritage we are all proud of, we are here to reaffirm that we are the worthy children of our fathers who sacrificed their lives for us of whom we are their posterity. We want our nation and our posterity to continue to live in honour and in peace. Is it anti-Indian to state the living fact that we want our nation to live?
We intensely value our way of living even in so far as land ownership is concerned; and, we yearn nothing better leave alone our social institutions of pure democracy in a classless society where each regard the other as brother and sister, parent and child. We are not just a bunch of human beings called citizens.
The Indians openly say that Communism may take possession of Nagaland but there are communists in India while there is no communist in Nagaland. China is the only Communist country near us but we do not think China will ever bow so low to annex our territory. As for India, we cannot yet say. We have no quarrel with Communism as an economic or political expression; whatever it may be, we never worried about it. Nagas do not favour Communism as a way of life.
There is no political party in Nagaland. We do not need it. And we hope we shall not be pushed to a position in which we have the least desire to shift our stand even so much for an expedient measure. All things considered, Nagaland need not imitate or adopt foreign institution like India in matters of political organizations.
The basic structure of political organization in Nagaland had withstood the change of time all these centuries because it is based on the democratic principle of sovereignty of the people over land ownership as private property. It needs no substitute.
Socially, our community is built up on a system of social alliance and this national institution, which is really three in one whole (Thehu, Thehsü, Thino) has the greatest influence on each and everyone of us.
Economically we have nothing to worry. There is no room for anyone of us to complain against any sort of injustice since he has the same equal freedom with everybody else to own land and to better his position. Nothing prevents him and her. What helps he needs the community is there to stand by him for advice, protection or actual supply of material needs. Naturally enough the whole conception is based on sympathy, love, pride (in the spirit of “mhosho”) and human conscience.
If Nagaland is not disturbed, our country will remain an oasis of peace in the present form of purest democracy in this corner of the world. This is what we like to see it continued.
Someone may tell us that Nagas are Christians following a foreign religion. The Indians publicly say this. We do not take Christianity as foreign religion any more than we consider the light of the sun as foreign origin from outer world. There is a father-creator (Ukepenopfü) as we call it. He is God. The message of the Gospel fulfills our Naga conception of religion – Nanyü – which literally means “anguish of mind” for which we do worship. Once we came to know that there is a personal Saviour to whom one can talk or pray directly, the real light dawned on us, and the weight of man’s “anguish of mind” greatly vanish away. It is the end of the beginning of our personal realization in relieving the anguish of mind in this world and for the next world after death. Whatever the Indians may say of us, there is no foreignness in relationship between father and child; that is, between God the Father and His children.
Our nation is emotionally fascinated with our way of Life. It makes life cheerful. We are not unaware of other people’s opinion of us: they call us “primitive”. Yet, with all our primitiveness, you see smiling face spontaneously beaming on you wherever you go. I say spontaneously because it is not cultivated as an education. There is an instinctual feeling of self-confidence in you and you know it. A sense of security is reflected in you behaviour. What is the source of this happy outcome? It is in the foundation of our “community” system (Thino); and, secondly which is equally important, it is in the land and your ability to cope with life.
We do not say that we have everything or do not need any other thing. That is sheer folly. But the important thing is we have all the basic needs in political matters, for country’s administration, community organization, economic set-up (uki-ulie); and these institutions we have in the way we need it. These are not problems in Nagaland. It is not a grafted growth. Our fathers had laid down all these in their time and we are just restating the fruit of their labour we enjoy today which are natural enough to their ingenuity in the process of developments to our nationhood. And, the best thing is, it fulfills the requirements of the present-day changes; no alteration or adjustment needed. All sound principles stand throughout the ages. Time and situation cannot defy it. Need we stress it again how truly we love our native institutions of people’s democracy where none is the master or servant but all are as parents and children, brothers and sisters.
There is still another argument the Indian Authority put it forward which is of recent origin and it is very dangerous FOR WHICH WE ARE HERS TODAY. They now say that the Nagas are not united and that there is no substance or basis to defend the independence of Nagaland. This is a strange argument. The Indians are trying to outwit us because they already got their Armed Forces entrenched in our territory. This unhappy situation arose through the 10-Year Agreement the Government of India entered into with the Naga National Council in 1947, which took place here in Kohima on June 26, that is, 3 years, 10 months and 20 days today. But the Indian Government officially repudiated the Agreement 1 year 6 months and 8 days ago (today) which they made it known to our Naga Delegation on November 8, 1949 at the Government House in Shillong. These facts are known to you. Seeing that they cannot deceive the Nagas, as they thought they could browbeat us, have resorted to dirty, shameless and unmanly tactics. We are to note carefully that present tactics of argument placed Nagaland not as a national state of a people. India is trying now to argue the existence of Nagaland a political matter (of Indian concern)! But how can this be? Whether we call a national state or a country, both concerns the same thing: it concerns the territory of a people. Nagaland is the land of the Nagas; it is Naga country and nobody else. We are not refugees or immigrants in this beautiful land. Our own language tells exactly what a country is. We call country “Ura” which literally means ‘we are first’ (u, we; ra, ria, first). The root meaning of territory also developed from the same word; namely, “theria” meaning ‘self first’. And our Naga language is certainly as old as human tradition and history cannot contradict us. No man can argue with fact and existence of Nagaland (Nagara) is a natural fact.
What confronts us just now is not a political matter as between a Colonial government and the subject people. We are not Indian subjects. Only when there is controversy problem will arise. But, in our case, NAGALAND is not a controversy.
The Indians went so far to tell us that “the talk of Naga Independence is the voice of only a few educated educate Nagas”! The Indian Government have come to know that they cannot move the mass Naga citizens in any other way except to say that it is the voice of the educated Nagas. What of it? Where India will be without their educated class? Their talk is not only to confound us but they are trying and preparing the way to confuse the world opinion in their favour. Here our mass citizens who are directly concerned with land, as all our people are directly concerned with land but particularly those of you who are cultivating your fields, you are far more acutely conscious and much more feelingly touched of our national problems because it hurts you in a very personal way. All of us realize that it is not merely a crisis; it is a question of life and death, and for a small nation it means annihilation and extinction from the face of this earth. This is a terrible aspect. With a united voice we shall explore every possible means to avoid getting entangled.
One thing we shall not make a mistake is that
NAGALAND IS NOT A PROBLEM. It is not a controversy between the Indians and the Nagas. It is not a case. Strictly speaking, it is not an issue; at least, not yet.
The Nagas have nothing to do with India. And the Indians have nothing to do with Nagaland. This is the exact position. Historically, Nagas and the Indians did not have a common tradition. Racially, Nagas belong to the Mongolian family while the Indians belong to entirely a different race of their own. Politically, neither the Nagas nor the Indians know each other, that is why trouble is just about to start. Legally, it is nonexistent. There is absolutely no like. Culturally, the Nagas and the Indians never had occasion to meet each other; and, there is nothing in common. Socially, the Indians abhor the Nagas and the Nagas despise the Indians. It is better to face fact now. Religiously, the Indians are Hindus; and the ancient Naga religion is “Animism” having nothing to do with Hindus. As it is, there is nothing in common between the Nagas and the Indians. The difference is too varied, the feeling is too deep, and the attitude is too wide and too malignant for the two nations ever to think to live together in peace much less to become “Indian citizens”. The only way to live in peace is to live apart. Economically, Nagaland had never been dependent on India. All these have been so ever since and long before human history began. Nagas and Indians do not speak the language. Why, we do not eat even the same food. It was very good that the Indians never allow the Nagas to go near them because they hate our people.
So, what connection is there between the two people? Whoever tries to implicate us and confuse the existing or rather non-existing state of affair, he tells deliberate lies. It is folly for India to attempt to subjugate the Nagas. On our part, our fathers even in their illiterate stage never implicated our nation with India; that is why we are so distinctly alive as individually a distinct family of nation. This generation will not blunder. We shall not tarnish our honour.
Since our Naga people take word seriously as an oath, I stress these things once again so that you all will bear in mind that our nation and those of us who are in the NAGA NATIONAL COUNCIL for our national affairs have not made a mistake in dealing with India. Naga National Council tried and continue trying to find a peaceful solution with India for Nagaland to continue to live in peace without harassment. We have no secret. Nothing is hidden from you. And, whatever may happen, you will that our nation had tried her best to avoid it, the rest, it is beyond our power.
NOW, WE ARE HERE TODAY to reaffirm the stand of our Naga nation that we do not need India and we do not want her. We are here today to prove to INDIA and to the world that NAGALAND is united and that our nation aspire the same conviction to continue to be independent as a distinct nation as we are and have always been in the sovereign national state of the Nagas of Nagaland.
We have never doubted and we never worried about the question of our unity, which is an internal affairs of Nagaland alone. This was never a problem and India has no business to interfere us. But the menace of India is there because she wanted to grab our country saying one thing or another like the well known story of the “Tiger and the Lamb” in the Aesop Fables who had painted the worst type of cannibalistic humanity.
We are here united as one nation for the common cause of our nation’s freedom, which is in jeopardy. Nagaland is independent state. We are as independent as any country could be; yet, we are not free and we cannot be free because the Indian Government ceaselessly interferes our administration with their Armed forces. They have been harassing our citizens all the time.
The presence of our people here in a big group in several thousands from all over our country certainly relieves the awful sense of oppression and persecutions. We are already here about six thousand people and more are still coming. Your presence here willingly to stand by our nation in peril dispels the Indian argument of disunity among us.
We all know that the Indian government have strongly entrenched their Armed Forces right inside our territory and they threaten our very existence to “use all the forces at my command to crush you” as their Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it to our Naga Delegation who went to New Delhi seeking a peaceful solution to live side by side as friendly neighbours.
We shall do all what is humanly possible so that we shall not have to go down in history in shame or live in sorrow and disgrace; what else we cannot do, we leave it to God’s own mercy and to His care and pray that we do not become a victim of the Indian imperialism.
WE ARE HERE TO COMMENCE OUR VOLUNTARY PLEBISCITE to put on record and to express our mind, our national policy, in the form of Thumb Impression. It is five months now that our nation has been given time to discuss about this Plebiscite Voluntarily offered by us to prove our unity and our spontaneous willingness to continue to live on as a distinct nation. In the past five months I have visited every region of our area and met everyone of you. What we do now will go down in our history. We shall enough time especially this is being a busy season for our people and many of you will have to be disturbed for this national work. Not a single village will be left out as each and everyone of us will like to let our posterity know what we do now for their freedom, for their glory, and for their happiness which they must continue to enjoy as free man.
THIS PLEBISCITE is not whether Nagaland should become a part of India or not. This is only to show India and the world of Naga unity as one effective nation in order to let INDIA know the position of NAGALAND. However, those who wish to show their differences in preference to join the Indian union, we welcome their expression of full freedom of choice. Nobody need worry or fear his and her safety in expressing oneself freely. All will be put on the record in the form of fingerprint. We are making three separate copies for historical document and one copy shall be presented to the Republic of India.
Lastly, let me state that the Nagas’ stand for independence, that is, the continued existence of Nagaland as a sovereign state, is not a political challenge to India. We stand on, and try to reaffirm, our own right as a nation. We Nagas are not against Indians. We never wanted enemies. We only hope that India shall not become our enemy.
Let me enumerate my speech again:-
WHY DO THE NAGAS WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT?
1. We want to feel that we are absolutely and unconditionally free as a nation. Nagas belong to a distinct people and live in a country entirely of their own. We want to remain outside the influence of any other nation, be it white or brown.
2. We want to develop our own culture unhampered in the way we like, without having to worry for a possible mixture of alien blood.
3. We want to direct our own education through the establishment of our own Universities.
4. We want to keep our own land in the possession of our own people for our own people.
5. We want to live our own lives. There should be no room for any possible interference, directly or indirectly, whether now or in days to come.
6. We want to keep in our possession as a heritage something which is exclusively of Nagaland; something which is bound to vanish and be lost to the Nagas if they were to live under an alien direction; these are our national institutions of –
(a) Community Organisation.
(b) People’s sovereignty over ownership of property and land.
(c) Our culture: a culture of love with a true respect for individual personality, a society that admits no strata of social class, caste or creed, religion or race.
7. We want peace, real peace put into an abiding practice in the lives of men. We do not want war. And we do not want to see another war in our land. We do not want to make our country a defence line. We do not want to let our children live in battlefields.
8. We want to make our country a place of happiness, of security and rest. We hope and we cherish that we can make our country a meeting place of the East and an understanding center of the world.
9. We believe that we shall become a better friend and that we can remain a better friend to India and the outside world if we are left to ourselves – unmolested and unexploited.
10. We believe that it is not only for Nagaland but for India and other surrounding countries as well that there is a better chance of creating and retaining peace and good will with a SOVEREIGN NAGALAND being in existence.
Above everything else, we want to be free as a distinct nation: and we shall be free.
A.Z. Phizo, President,
NAGA NATIONAL COUNCIL,
16 May 1951.