Phizo's plebiscite speech
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
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
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
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
I am not
going into details of our past experiences with
we have tried to settle our political issue with
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.
occasions we have been accused by the press in
examine those rapacious assertions, accusations and misapprehensions we find
that the Indians do not know the Nagas.
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.
discord between Nagaland and
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.
whether the Nagas will or will not be allowed to
maintain our independence remains to be seen. If free
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
If this world is to have peace and goodwill toward one another, the will of the people and nation must prevail.
1. The first
argument is about the “menace” of
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
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
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
insolently told us that
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
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
It is a
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
“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.
We would not
have gone to the extent of mentioning all these about the
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
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
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
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
“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.
openly say that Communism may take possession of Nagaland
but there are communists in
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
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.
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
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.
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
One thing we
shall not make a mistake is that
have nothing to do with
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
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
NOW, WE ARE
HERE TODAY to reaffirm the stand of our Naga nation that we do not need
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
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.
PLEBISCITE is not whether Nagaland should become a part of
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
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
Above everything else, we want to be free as a distinct nation: and we shall be free.