Naga Martyrs Day observed
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Mao Gate, August 27 2014: A high power committee would be set up by the Government of India (GoI) to translate the demand of Alternative Arrangement, pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue into a political reality, according to L.Adani, president, United Naga Council(UNC) while speaking on the 66th Anniversary of Martyrs' Day held at Mao Gate, Senapati district today.

Organised by the Mao Council under the aegis of United Naga Council, the day was observed to honour Asiisii Hepuni of Punanamei, Mahriili Lohrii and Modo Kholi, both of Kalinamei who were shot dead on the spot and Daikho Hesho of Chowainamai Khullen and Obow Adani of Punanamei who were grieviously wounded and later succumbed to bullet injuries from the indiscriminate firings of the Assam Rifles and Manipur police on August 27, 1948 .

A landmark in the history of political movement of the Nagas of Manipur.

Thus the "No Tax Campaign" was launched when Maharajkumar Priyobrata Singh was the Chief Minister of Manipur.

The Nagas in Manipur refused to pay the annual House Tax to the Government of Manipur and under the aegis of the Naga National League (NNL) submitted their annual house tax to Charles Pawsey, DC of Naga Hills of Assam at Kohima.

People paying floral tributes to martyrs
People paying floral tributes to martyrs

It was an act of defiance against the authority of the State, under which the Nagas of Manipur had been placed without their consent.

It was also a means of putting pressure on the Indian Government for securing the merger of the Nagas in Manipur with the Naga Hills District.

The Manipur Maharaja, Budha Chandra was in good terms with Sir Akbar Hydari, the then Governor of Assam, who was requested by the Maharaja to send a contingent of Assam Rifles to arrest A Daiho.

Sir Akbar Hydari, well known for his anti Naga political stand, gladly approved and dispatched a contingent of 4th Assam Rifles along with State Police equipped with rifles and machine guns, to Mao Gate on 27th August 1948.The Assam Rifles took position in and around Mao Inspection Bungalow in war like fashion and indiscriminately fired at the volunteers and students of the Mao-Maram Tribal Council (now Mao, Maram, Poumai, Thangal and Upper Zeliang) who were blocking the road leading to the residence of Mr..ADaiho.

The occasion marked the significance of Martyrs day, August 27, 1948 and brought out the fair detail about how political consciousness developed among the Nagas who were once living in blissful isolation in the village republics and how the people started asserting the rights for self determination and desire to live together.

UNC chief L Adani narrated on how in the course of consolidation of the political movement the No-Tax Campaign of 1948 against the Manipur government and the horrific experience of the August 27, 1948 at Mao Gate which has become an indelible landmark which consolidated the foundation of the political journey of the Naga people.

He went on to say that the particular day was written down in the annals of history with the blood of the martyrs and the many who were wounded.

Adani also brought out the importance of the observation which was to make the incident afresh in the minds of the people and mentioned that the UNC's political aspiration is based on their identity, culture and history.

In the narrative of the tripartite talk process of the government of Inida (GOI), Government of Manipur (GOM) and the Nagas under the aegis of the UNC it has been mentioned.

The last round of talk was held on February 6 this year and it was agreed that a high power committee would be set up by the Governemnt of India to translate the demand of Alternative Arrangement, pending settlement of Indo-Naga sue into a political reality.

Adani also mentioned that a communication has been received from the Government of India on August 7 saying that the process of instituting the committee on the Alternative Arrangement is in the last stage of finalization.

However, the UNC leader alleged that in spite of democratic policies of the dialogue and in utter disrespect of the same, the communal onslaught of the Government of Manipur continues relentlessly through administrative orders, gazettes and notifications to usurp the land and destroy the traditional institutions and village republics of the Nagas and tribal people.

He then said the Government of Manipur has moved for establishment of "Village Development Committee (VDC) in each village in the name of development to destroy the village republic system of the Nagas and tribals.

It has passed the bill for a separate Revenue Directorate for the hills in 2012 and has notified for extending the jurisdiction of the Revenue Tribunal to the tribal areas in the hill districts to get around provisions of the the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act, 1960 which protects the ancestral lands of the tribal.

The new Land Use Policy of Manipur (2014) is being taken up by the Government of Manipur to dilute the ownership of the tribals over their ancestral lands, where there is no such thing as Khas land.

According to the UNC leader, 120 tribal villages under Saikul sub division, Senapati district have been included by the Government of Manipur under various police stations of Imphal East district and Thoubal district, both of which are valley districts secured effective control of the tribals and their land through policing machinery and by diluting the district boundaries.

The chief minister, O.Ibobi had officially stated that demand for Alternative Arrangement is just a dream, disrespecting dialogue process in which his very state government is a party.

The Government of Manipur is working against the spirit of the Indo-Naga cease fire stating that there is no cease fire in Manipur and under the pretext of law and order has militarized the Naga areas, particularly Ukhrul headquarters with the CrPC 144 in place for more than 40 days, Adani added.

"There are no Nagas in Manipur, No land belongs to the Nagas and tribals.

No to Indo Naga cease fire.

No to political empowerment of tribals and Nagas.

No to Protection of ancestral lands of Nagas and tribals.

No to the Constitutional rights of empowerment and educational opportunities of the Nagas and tribals as borne out by the current reservation crisis in Manipur University, the highest temple of learning and wisdom.

No to development of tribal areas on the pretext of law and order and absence of land laws, which is the Government of Manipur policy towards the Nagas and tribal people," the UNC leader stated.

As such, Nagas will be organizing rallies in all the Naga district heardquarter under the aegis of the respective district organization on August 30, 2014, he added.

The UNC leader then said certain demands were put forward during the programme which included expediting an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo Naga issue, protest against the militarization of Naga areas particularly Ukhrul district by Government of Manipur with Manipur state forces in utter disrespect of the Indo Naga cease fire, protest against the Government of Manipur's disrespect for the democratic process of tripartite talk on Alternative Arrangement which has progressed to a logical stage and protest against the unabated aggressive policies of Government of Manipur to encroach upon the ancestral lands of Nagas and tribals through laws, Act and notification to subvert the protective provisions of the MLR & LR 1960, Adani said.

The programme was also attended by MLA Dikho, UNC general secretary Gaidon Kamei, ANSAM president, Seth Shatsang, vice president, UNC, Warngam Anal, Naga Women president, Tabitha and different civil society organizations, student leaders, church leaders ,women leaders and human rights activists.

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