Morung Express News
Tahamzam (Senapati) | November 20
“A solution to the Indo-Naga issue will come only in the interest of God.” This was Lt. Gen. Anthony Ningkhan Shimray’s parting message to around 800 students in attendance at the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) Conclave on the Naga Journey being held here from November 19-21.
Longvibu (Commander-in-Chief) of the Naga Army, NSCN (IM)/GPRN, Shimray was conducting a Story Telling session on the Naga Journey and Walking the Indo-Naga Framework Agreement.
“The Framework Agreement was not an achievement of the NSCN but a gift of God who heard the pains and prayers of the Naga people. Power for the Nagas comes from Christ, not the barrel of the gun,” he maintained. The Kingdom of God cannot be established, he said, through ‘NSCN politics’ but through young people who carry the “spirit of God in their hearts.”
Stressing on the “power of the people and the power of prayer” in carrying the Indo-Naga peace process forward, he acknowledged that “we are safe because of the support from the civil society organisations and the people.”
“We see 90 percent raw nationalism today. We harass our people, create problems for them and fail to see the cause. We impose our desire on the people but what is the desire of the people?”
According to the Longvibu, it is not enough to have courage and take risks—“it was neither Sun Tzu nor Mao Zedong who worked in moments of crisis”—but have the spirit of God.
FA as highway & window
“It is not easy to construct a nation and establish a firm foundation,” said Shimray today. “The important thing is that the Government of India (GoI) has agreed on the basic principles of Naga history. The Framework Agreement (FA) is our highway to final freedom,” he noted, stating that one of the struggles now is at the level of getting a two-thirds majority in the Indian Parliament.
Through the FA, the GoI has recognized the “unique history of the Nagas,that sovereignty lies with the people and integration is a legitimate right of the Nagas.” Therefore, “land will be demarcated and integrated based on Naga history, not by the Indian system of states,” the Longvibu affirmed.
Based on these, a “superpower like India” and the Nagas have decided to forge a new relationship as partners with ‘shared sovereignty.’
He requested the Nagas from Myanmar not to lose hope as a proposed Pan Naga Hoho is a “window of hope through which we can reach out to them in the course of time.” But first, said Shimray, one must become faithful to the cause of the nation.
Other sessions at the ANSAM Conclave today included ‘Land, population, education and economy of the district,’ the ‘story of Nagas beyond borders’ and ‘Position of tribals in Manipur.’
Axone, bamboo shoot & Naga chilli
Through the years of their revolutionary struggle, it was axone, bamboo shoot, dry meat and Naga chilli that propelled their team on. “We had no money to buy food or hire hotel rooms so I always carried these items in my bag,” said Lt. Gen. Anthony Ningkhan Shimray while highlighting their struggles through their time in various countries. In the one room they could acquire, Late Isak Chishi Swu would be given the bed with the rest of them, including Th. Muivah and Shimray, sleeping on the floor. When the elders travelled alone, they shared house chores—the Chairman made rice and washed the dishes while the General Secretary cooked curry, swept the floor and washed the clothes.
“It was a very difficult struggle. We could have died of dehydration or malaria in the jungles if not for God,” noted Shimray who was confined to Tihar jail for years following his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India. “Everyone thought it impossible to come out but the Tihar walls crumbled like the walls of Jericho. If not for the united and collective voice of our people and their prayers, I would still have been in Tihar,” the leader admitted.