It is interesting to note that when the President Pranab Mukherjee spoke on the occasion of the historic celebration of the “50th Anniversary of the Nagaland Statehood” at Kisama on December 1, 2013, he did not mention even a single leader of the then Naga People’s Convention (NPC). Dr SC Jamir, ex-Nagaland Chief Minister and present Governor of Odisha, the only living person amongst those who signed the “16-Point Agreement of 1960 with the Government of India” was also there at the rostrum while President Mukherjee delivered his speech. The present Nagaland State came into being after “16-Point Agreement” was signed between the leaders of the NPC and the Government of India in 1960.
The Nagaland Statehood was formally inaugurated as the 16th State of the Indian Union by 2nd President of India Dr S Radhakrishnan on 1st of December, 1963 at the Kohima Local Ground.
How poignant it was when Dr Jamir, the only living person of the signatories of the “16-Point Agreement,” was sharing dais with the President to celebrate the “50th Year of Nagaland Statehood.” But the President has even failed to mention that he was sharing dais with a man who was one of the architects and the founding fathers of the Nagaland State.
Can anyone imagine what would be if the President of India or the Prime Minister fails to mention names of the founding fathers of “India” when they deliver speeches on the occasion of “India’s Anniversaries.” It would only demean the democratic ideology of a republic country like ours.
On February 18, 1961 an Interim Body of 42 members was constituted. This was to function as the de-facto legislature. It included a five-member Executive Council headed by a Chief Executive Councilor. This functioned as de-facto Council of Ministers. Dr. Imkongliba Ao, who was the first Chairman of the Naga People’s Convention, was appointed the first Chairman of the Interim Body. Mr. P. Shilo was appointed the Chief Executive Councilor and eventually became the first Chief Minister of Nagaland. On August 21, 1962 the then Prime Minister Pandit Nehru introduced a Bill in the Parliament for the formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged State. The Act provides for the formulation of the State of Nagaland as the 16th State in the Indian Union, and on December 1, 1963, President Dr. Radhakrishnan inaugurated the State of Nagaland. The late Mr. Vishnu Sahay became the first Governor of Nagaland.
The unveiling of the monolith and the releasing of the Commemorative Stamp of Nagaland by the President during the occasion were, however, significant. Dr Jamir’s book- “Nagaland 50 Years and Beyond”- released by him might have lot of stories of how the State came into being under the leaderships of the then NPC, though I am yet to read it. The Coffee Table Book on the 50th Anniversary of Statehood released by State Governor Dr Ashwani Kumar had the interesting historical chapters of Nagaland.
Meanwhile it was remarkable to witness the “Photo Exhibition” by the Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Nagaland, at the Conference Hall of the Ura Hotel, near Red Cross Complex, Kohima. These photos are rare collections depicting how the Naga people had a long journey to come to this modern world. They had displayed the priceless photographs of pre- and post-Nagaland Statehood eras along with various distinguished leaders of the Republic of India. It was really touching to seeing these pictures. The exhibition will continue till 10th of this month and one must see it.
On 20th August, 1961, Dr. Ao was shot and wounded at Mokokchung by an underground gunman while he was on his way home from his pharmacy. He was taken to the Army Hospital but succumbed to his injuries on 22nd August 1961. Most of these leaders sacrificed, toiled and even risked their precious lives while striving for the cause, though the Naga political issue remained unresolved.
Although the talks between the Naga underground leaders and the Government of India are still going on to find solution, the leaders of NPC were architects and founding fathers of the Nagaland State and it would be only befitting to mention their names on such occasion by the President of India.