Launch of Quarterly Hournal “Beyond The Horizon”

Imphal, August 17: A quarterly journal entitled as “Beyond The Horizon” was launched at Manipur Press Club, Majorkhul, here today. The 48-pages journal covers a wide range of social, political and economic views of democratic organisations and individuals, which were not published in the mainstream media. ‘Beyond The Horizon’ provides views and opinions of democratic […]

Imphal, August 17: A quarterly journal entitled as “Beyond The Horizon” was launched at Manipur Press Club, Majorkhul, here today. The 48-pages journal covers a wide range of social, political and economic views of democratic organisations and individuals, which were not published in the mainstream media. ‘Beyond The Horizon’ provides views and opinions of democratic […]

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The idea of the Kohima City

Kohima, the Capital of Nagaland State, has lots of historical backgrounds. One of the most significant chapters in the history of this picturesque City is the British India Government occupying

Kohima, the Capital of Nagaland State, has lots of historical backgrounds. One of the most significant chapters in the history of this picturesque City is the British India Government occupying it and later becoming their battlefield fighting against the Japanese troops during the Second World War in 1944. After 69 years of this historic British-Japanese war fought in this region (Kohima-Imphal), it was finally adjudged as the “Greatest British Battle” ever fought on this planet.
The present “Old DC Bungalow” which has been already converted to “The Heritage Bungalow” in 2009 and used for the commercial purpose by maintaining Suits, Conference Halls, and other facilities since then. This is the bungalow where Sir Charles Pawsey, a British colonial administrator, served as the Deputy Commissioner of the then Naga Hills during the Burma campaigns of 1942 to 1944.
The part of this battle centered on Sir Pawsye’s bungalow was known as the Battle of the Tennis Court because this Tennis Court of him was there. Showing great bravery and loyalty to the local Naga people, Pawsey refused to leave Kohima during the siege by the Japanese that lasted from 5 April to 20 April 1944, and did what he could to bolster morale and support Colonel Richards the Garrison Commander. The Nagas remained completely loyal to him and by way of thanks their tribal leaders were introduced to Lord Mountbatten at Kohima in August 1944. The advancing Japanese troops could be halted by the British at this war by coordinating their troops from Imphal side. The present Raj Bhavan and Old DC Bungalow areas should be rather preserved and declared as War Memorial Sites and opened to visitors. The various war-related documents, artifacts and wreckages collected from in and around Kohima and adjoining villages should be displayed in such War Memorial Site. Such War Memorial Site with the interesting items, comments, write-ups, photographs, would be a pride of the Nagas and the future generations would know such important histories from such monuments.
We have many other locations, buildings, offices which have historical attachment over the years. The Kohima Local Ground, Old MLA Hostel, Old Secretariat, Old DC Office (already dismantled and already replaced by new one), Old Kohima Town Committee Office, Naga Hospital Kohima, etc.. There will be others too. All these are needed to be preserved. If they are no longer used, then they should be renovated without changing the original structures to be preserved. Such buildings, locations, structures, inscriptions on stones of the past if preserved as “Heritages” would only depict the past pride and history. These are important areas we have to seriously think over and never attempt to destroy them. It is very simple that by destroying them, you are only destroying history and without them, you are left unguarded to defend your people in future.
The Kohima Village (Bara Basti) has its own history as the second largest Village in Asia. We should think of building a Museum in the Village with various historical records like artifacts, items and names of those who made significant contributions for the growth of Kohima, defenders of Kohima from external aggression in earlier days. It will definitely attract tourists, researchers, besides reminding the younger generations of their past forefathers and histories of the Angamis in the Kohima Village.
It is regrettable to say that the Capital City of Nagaland continues to be experiencing underdevelopment particularly in road and water supply sectors, which are essential for the City development. The expansion of the Capital City hardly takes place since its inception as full-fledged State in 1963. But over the years, the State witnessed the population explosion and also sudden rise of vehicles. Roads are little and the overcrowded vehicles have today become nightmares for the denizens of Kohima. Traffic congestions have become a major problem in Kohima City.
It is simply impossible to develop, progress, and expand Kohima City unless the Angamis of Kohima Village take the lead. Because they are the landowners and by tradition and customs, the Government cannot do anything as far as land is concerned. The conditions of the present State Capital is very unpredictable if one carefully studies. The capital roads are urgently needed for expansion which is the single most important area to be thought of. The building bylaws in the Capital region should be enforced. Proper drainage system should be constructed with quality materials. Encroachment of Government lands by private parties or individuals should stop as such practices have been going on over the years without any sign of solution. At the same time, the Government also should immediately stop allotting Government land or old Government bungalows to private and individual parties. Such practice is only making position and status of the Government extremely vulnerable.
It is so painful to see that our youth are not given space they need. We need to have centers for entertainment and recreation in the Capital City areas. The Government used to come up with various projects like City Convention Center, Cultural Complex, etc. and why not think of providing some of youth oriented centers with modern facilities. The parks are needed for Cities. We do have one far off the City – beyond IG Stadium. It is good to have at least one such park in the City areas.
We are lucky that Kohima Capital City has been included in the first phase of 80 Cities declared to be built as Smart Cities across the country. These Smart City projects are to be completed in five-year time. The idea of the Smart City is to give comprehensive development of physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure as these are primary areas for improving the quality of life, besides attracting people and investment, setting in motion a virtuous cycle of growth and development.
·         Adequate water supply,
·         Assured electricity supply,
·         Sanitation, including solid waste management,
·         Efficient urban mobility and public transport,
·         Affordable housing, especially for the poor,
·         Robust IT connectivity and digitalization,
·         Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation,
·         Sustainable environment,
·         Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly, and
·         Health and education.
There are many things to be done if we really want to make Kohima Capital an ideal city. It is, of course, for every citizen, who lives in Kohima, should love and care the City, yet the Angamis in Kohima, as already stated, have the biggest role to play. Most of the issues mentioned above particularly the expansion of the roads will come to a possibility if they step in, and others will automatically follow.

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Nagaland: The Aos in Church movement in Amri Karbi areas

It is not out of nowhere, but it is God’s plan that I landed in a village called Rongphar. It is one of the Amri Karbi tribe’s villages in the

Earlier thatched Church of Rongphar Baptist Church (RBC), and now RCC Church at Rongphar Village

Earlier thatched Church of Rongphar Baptist Church (RBC), and now RCC Church at Rongphar Village

It is not out of nowhere, but it is God’s plan that I landed in a village called Rongphar. It is one of the Amri Karbi tribe’s villages in the Amri Karbi areas of Assam. The village is some 40 kilometers away from Guwahati and some 4 kilometers away from the National Highway 37.

I along with my colleague Takoba Teron reached in the village on October 21, 2012. I was invited to present a paper in a “Seminar” on the theme “Awareness of Political Consciousness of Amri Karbi Tribes and Their Chartered Demands” on October 22 and 23, 2012 at Rongphar Community Hall. It was organized by Amri Karbi National Council (AKNC) which has been spearheading for the “Autonomous District Council” under Sixth Schedule for a separate Amri Karbis in Assam. Over the last decades, the leaders of the AKNC have been meeting various Central leaders including former Prime Ministers late Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They have also submitted various memoranda to previous Dr Manmohan Singh Government and also the present Narendra Modi Government at the Center.

The day we reached the Rongphar village was Sunday and did not know where we would be staying. But, so lucky that our accommodation was arranged in the Church Guest House. In fact, we were received by Pastor of the Rongphar Baptist Church, Pichong Ronghang when we reached the village. Our team was first received by President of the AKNC, Mr Pudum Ingti, when we arrived at Sonapur, and from there, he led us to Rongphar village where I would be addressing the “Seminar.”
After having exchanged some pleasantries, the Pastor invited me to speak in the Church the same evening as that day was Sunday. I was really happy on being invited to speak in this Church, though not showing immediate response to him feeling a bit of reservation thinking it wouldn’t be fair as I reached in the village for the first time in my life, and not knowing anything of its background rather.
My sharing in this Church was one of the most memorable ones in my life but the most important one, which I would like to tell here, is the way the Christianity started coming in this village and also other villages in the Armi Karbi areas. I didn’t have much to share except my happiness of coming to this beautiful village. Although the attendance was thin, every moment was historic for me as it was the first time for me attending Karbi Church Service in my life. The news of sharing my feeling in the Church spread like a wildfire in the village and many complained the next morning saying that they would have attended the last evening’s Church Service if they knew that I would be speaking in the Church. I really felt humbled by such responses from the villagers in this village.
It is heartening to note that the Christianity has been planted in this village and other Amri Karbi areas by the Ao Church leaders under the Merangkong Godhula Mission (MGM) of Mokokchung, Nagaland.
Rongphar village is inhabited by mostly Amri Karbi tribes. This village lies at the foothills and the people were mostly non-Christians but after the Christianity came in 32 years ago, majority of them are today Christians. The village has two denominations – Baptist and Catholic.
The Rongphar Baptist Church (RBC) was first set up under the sponsorship of MGM in 1983. Those first converts are still active in Church activities in the village and also in other neighboring villages. The initial thatched Church with few negligible members has today become a symbol and prestige for the Christian community in the village. Today they have a huge RCC Church boasting of having a good number of members from the village.
Many Ao missionaries from Nagaland’s Mokokchung district have been actively engaged in promoting and developing Christianity in this village and other Amri Karbi villages. Yet, they still need supports for running and maintaining the Church administration and other activities. Prominent Ao Church leaders and high profile officials have been extending financial and material supports to the Churches, which have been established under MGM, from time to time. One of the known families not only among the Aos but also Nagas in Nagaland, late NI Jamir’s family had their share for the growth of the Church activities in the Rongphar village. The name of late NI Jamir, father of former Nagaland Chief Secretary Alemtemshi Jamir and grandfather of present NPF MLA Marentoshi Jamir, has been written and displayed in the Church.
Late LL Yaden, IAS, father of Nagaland Post Editor Geoffrey Yaden was also one of the pioneers for Christian movement in Amri Karbi areas of Assam. He was also one of the architects of MGM, which has established at least 29 Churches in Amri Karbi areas of Assam. Amenba Yaden, Parliamentary Secretary and James Yaden, IGP and Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (Retd), were also among others who had contributed towards the Church funding in Amri Karbi areas of Assam.
It is said that the Christianity, which was first brought in the Amri Karbi areas, was Rongphar village. It was way back in 1983 when Reverend Puna Ao with his wife Theresa landed in this otherwise nondescript Village, Rongphar, coolly and silently perching at the foothills of Rongphar areas. It was Rev Puna who set the Christianity in motion in Rongphar Village under the sponsorship of MGM. The Rongphar Christian people said, “Rev Puna Ao is Edwin W Clark of the Rongphar Village.” Today there are 29 Baptist Churches in Amri Karbi areas. There are more than 240 Villages in the Amri Karbi areas.
Reverend Puna with his wife, who is a Garo, peacefully lives in Guwahati.  The couple is blessed with two sons and daughter. Unfortunately, their eldest son has already expired. A beautifully framed photograph of the missionary couple is hung up at the Office of the Rongphar Baptist Church.
Pastor Ronghang could speak fluently Nagamese as he had his earlier education from Mokokchung areas and also his Theological education from there. He has also been closely working and associated with the leaders of RBC since its inception in 1983. He gets a meager Rs 2000 as his monthly salary, besides he lives in a very pathetic condition. I was pained at seeing the condition of the Pastor but he seemed more comfortable and enjoying to being a servant of God.
The Rongphar village is indeed a blessed one. In the middle and surrounding areas of the village, there are paddy fields. It is bestowed with many streams, river and huge pristine forests. Inside the village, a massive tea farm is there covering huge areas of the village foothills. But if you look around, there is hardly any sign of developments from the Government side—be it State or the Center. There are two village approach roads. One is hardly motorable while the other is motorable, but no blacktopping.
We hardly thought that such beautiful Amri Karbi villages would be there along the foothills in Amri Karbi areas in Assam as most of us had hardly had any ideas of visiting them. About 99 percent of these villagers are Amri Karbis and they live peacefully and silently without causing any slightest disturbances to either other non-tribal communities or administrations. They have been surviving and they can do so for centuries to come without the support of the state Government. But they have to live at par with the rest of the State, and they should be given their due share and recognition.
In the meantime, the Amri Karbis have a cherished love for the Aos for showing them the light from the darkness.

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In-depth thinking and political wisdom crucial to solving Naga problem

By Oken Jeet Sandham Almost all the people and even those who have been so closely associated with leaders of the NSCN(IM) for years in working to find solution to

By Oken Jeet Sandham

Almost all the people and even those who have been so closely associated with leaders of the NSCN(IM) for years in working to find solution to the decades old Naga political issue have been caught napping when the Government of India has inked the “Framework Agreement” with the NSCN (IM) on August 3, 2015 at Delhi. The low profile event of the high profile Indo-Naga issue has been arranged at the residence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7 Race Course Road, Delhi in his presence along with his Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Interlocutor to Naga talks RN Ravi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, and also many top ranking NSCN (IM) leaders.

According to report, NSCN (IM) General Secretary Th Muivah and Chairman Isak Chishi Swu on behalf of the organization and RN Ravi representing the Government of India signed the agreement. Soon after this agreement, breaking news of this event came in all the TV Channels from Delhi and all the online editions of the National Papers. Hundreds of people in Nagaland and its neighbouring States were taken aback by the sudden announcement of the agreement as none of them expected that such an agreement would be signed so soon particularly the manner in which they did it, though many of them had some clues that some development between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) would take place.

Soon after the news of the “Framework Agreement” broke out, there were mix reactions and confusions among the people including the Naga people themselves. Such confusion is bound to happen, and of course naturally, when the Government of India has suddenly entered into such historic agreement with the NSCN (IM) without having given any pre-information of such significance to the Naga leaders including Nagaland Chief Minister, other stakeholders. Although some said that it is “Preamble,” it would have been more logical had the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) given pre-information to the public before signing the agreement, because the Naga issue has been dragging on for decades. However, the parties have been cautious in handling and explaining of the nature of the agreement.

This sudden development has changed the political course now. Many have been finding hard to give their comments except welcoming the agreement, saying they are yet to see the details of the accord. On one side, the Naga people know that there are other groups not only fighting for the cause of the Nagas but also maintaining even ceasefire with the Government of India. On the other, they are worried and anxious of details of the agreement that are yet to be finalized soon, and of course, the NSCN (K) has already walked away from the ceasefire in March this year.

Now, even though it is “Framework Agreement,” Chief Ministers of the neighbouring States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur have already demanded the Prime Minister to make the details of the agreement public as they had suspicions that there might be some hidden agenda in it to disturb territories of their respective States as the Naga Integration issue was one of the core demands of the NSCN (IM). However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Deputy Kiren Rejiju said such issues were not there now, besides saying that they (Chief Ministers of AP, Assam and Manipur) will be consulted before finalizing the details of the accord between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM).

Now the ball is in the court of the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) as to how they will move on from here, and all depends on how they act to the fast developing crucial political situation in Nagaland and its neighbouring States. One side they have to work out as to how they can take on board other Naga groups, on the other they have to see that Nagaland and its neighbouring States’ interests are protected.

Some crucial talks doing the round in the last few days after the signing of the agreement are about Nagas having a separate flag, separate currency and safeguarding their Naga customary system and land and its resources. Some of these points have already been touched by Zeliang also. When talking about safeguarding customary system and land and its resources of the Nagas living in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur, they are similar to the Clause (a) of the Article 371A of the Constitution of India. Some say that Article 371A should cover the Naga areas in other neighbouring States. Because when they talk of providing safeguards to their customary practices and land and its resources, provisions of protecting them are already there in the Article 371A. But the point to be noted here is that this Article 371A has come into effect as a result of the State of Nagaland Act, 1962. And all this development had happened because of the 16-Point Agreement signed between the Government of India and the then Naga People’s Convention (NPC) in 1960.
Now as this writer has already stated in his earlier write-ups that any attempt to amend Article 371A of the Constitution of India will be doing so against the very spirit of the 16-Point Agreement of 1960. It is because of this agreement that the present State of Nagaland was born as the 16th State of the Union of India in 1963.

If the Naga leaders wanted to have provisions to safeguard their land and its resources and customary systems for Nagas living in neighbouring States, they can be discussed, and if agreed upon, then they can be incorporated in the relevant Articles connecting with the respective States of the Northeast. But attempting to extend the Article 371A, which is for the State of Nagaland, to other Naga areas outside it (Nagaland) will unlikely to produce positive result. It is also not very clear whether the Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur will agree to the idea that the Nagas living in their respective States to have provisions of direct sharing of power with the Government of India as pointed out by some including Nagaland Chief Minister. They may feel that such arrangement may violate the Federal structure of the Constitution of India.

One should, however, know that there are various ways to work out for protecting the interests of Nagaland, other neighbouring States and the Naga people if the so-called contentious issues are no more there. The leaders should apply their political wisdom while working out for details of the accord. The leaders must have in-depth positive and mature thinking abilities because all actions come after thinking. David Joseph Schwartz, who was an American motivational writer and coach, best known for authoring The Magic of Thinking Big in 1959 said, “Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”

Most importantly, the leaders in talks should see that any move they attempt should lead to solving the vex Naga political issue. Otherwise, it will be only a vicious circle.


Bottom Line:

In Delhi on Sunday, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang said, “I along with all Members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly are ready to step down, if an acceptable and honorable solution is found to the Naga people, in order to make a new beginning.”

I genuinely believe such a decision should be taken after a thorough deliberation on the present development through a “Special Session of Nagaland Legislative Assembly,” so that it will be politically valid and logical. Otherwise, differences may crop up among the legislators in Nagaland and that will be a major hindrance to the process again.

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Mainland media’s roles in Northeast important to change Center’s mindset

By Oken Jeet Sandham   Killing of 21 people due to flash flood and landslides in Manipur was not Headline news in National Newspapers, but the death of 1 or

By Oken Jeet Sandham


Killing of 21 people due to flash flood and landslides in Manipur was not Headline news in National Newspapers, but the death of 1 or 2 people in heavy downpour in India’s major cities or submerging Mumbai City by heavy downpour captured Headlines of all the National Dailies.


Killing of 18 Indian soldiers in Manipur by NSCN (K) continued to remain lead and front page stories in all the leading National Papers for more than a week. But shutting down of educational institutions over a month in Manipur following the agitations by students and other civil societies demanding for introducing Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in Manipur still fails to capture Headlines of National Dailies. But few hours agitations by students or any civil societies in major Indian cities will dominate National Dailies.


The mainland media tried their best to twist the unfortunate ambush on Indian Army on June 4 at Manipur’s Chandel district and afterwards even to the extent of saying that India Army’s surgical strikes could kill 100 Naga militants, sometimes 80, sometimes 60, sometimes 40 by crossing International boundary in Myanmar. They could even use the photograph of the Indian Army helicopter taken during Nepal relief service in 2013 as if it was taken in surgical strikes in Myanmar territory in 2015.


Of late, again many mainland media started their news bombardment soon after the signing of the “Framework Agreement” between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) was over. Several unfounded issues totally unconnected with the Naga issue by wrongly mentioning many historical chapters and names have been incorporated in their stories. Before the two parties spelling out of the nature of “Framework Agreement,” they have started giving all sort of speculative stories even at times look like they know everything of the contents of the “Framework Agreement.”


Our National Media need to change their mindset towards Northeast and seriously study on issues prevailing here. Only then will the leadership of this country start thinking something positive towards the people of the Northeast. Then change for better can be expected.

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The signing ceremony of “Framework Agreement” & Modi misses many

By Oken Jeet Sandham I have been closely observing the fast political development taking place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi tersely conveyed his mind and plan towards settlement of the

modi nscn im
By Oken Jeet Sandham
I have been closely observing the fast political development taking place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi tersely conveyed his mind and plan towards settlement of the Naga issue to the 19-Member Parliamentary Working Committee (PWC) of Nagaland. He actually opened up his mind what he was intending to do with regard to the solution to the complex Naga political issue when he met them at his residence at 7 Race Course Road, Delhi in mid-July.
Modi’s words can be examined in two ways. One, he wants to prove that he is a Prime Minister with a difference for the simple fact that his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh kept assuring that the Naga issue would be resolved during his tenure (Dr Singh 2nd tenure as Prime Minister) but he failed to fulfill what he had assured. Two, he was still cautious and doubtful when he precisely told the 19-Member PWC of Nagaland and this could be dissected from his words – “If I give you a solution and if it is not accepted to you, I am afraid (that) my solution will be more problem to you. Will Naga people accept what I decide? When it happens, it should not go unresolved.”
That is why he has specifically asked to the 19-Member PWC as to whether the Naga people will accept what he decides. But he cautions that when such decision is taken, “it should not go unresolved.” This means that when they reach such a phase, the people have to take it whether they like it or not.
Prime Minister Modi, however, stated that “If peace comes, it must come in toto.” He also explained that “Every single Naga is important in bringing the solution.”
Everyone agrees that the 18 years long peace process between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) is quite long but many have hardly examined why negotiations have been taking long without showing tangible result. The NSCN (K), which had been maintaining ceasefire with the Government of India for 14 long years, unilaterally abrogated it in March this year. The Central leaderships and various intelligence agencies knew very well that these two groups have been deadly rivals after splitting their NSCN into two in 1988, though factional killings and other clashes have drastically reduced after Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) started playing their crucial role.
Yet, Dr Singh, during his Prime Ministership, had made the Naga issue a simpler journey by elevating the bureaucratic style of negotiations to the Ministerial level, a political level, and which was also the demand of the NSCN (IM). He also learnt from some mistakes committed by his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee but the attempts made by past Prime Ministers should not be underestimated as the issues they dealt have been complex.
However, the signing of the “Framework Agreement” between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) on August 3, 2015 at Delhi in presence of the Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Adviser to Prime Minister, Ajit Kumar Doval and high profile leaders of the organization has surprised many leaders including the leaders of various political parties in the country. However, some political pundits and media specialists in the Region particularly Nagaland and Manipur got wind of Center’s planning to enter into some type of “Agreement” with the NSCN (IM) any moment. It now happens.modi nscn im
The only question that remains to be answered is why the Government of India should have kept the date, timing and place of their signing ceremony unknown. The signing ceremony such as the GOI-NSCN (IM) one held on August 3 at Delhi could have been organized in grand manner by inviting all the living past Prime Ministers, previous Interlocutors to Naga talks, leaders of various National Political Parties and leaders of prominent Civil Societies and NGOs. Modi announced that with this accord, the Government hopes to open the Northeast to development. The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway has been held hostage to a number of violent incidents. Actually, he could have even invited Chief Ministers of Northeast States if he honestly feels that solution to Naga issue is fundamental to building peace in the Region, because all the major contentious issues are no longer there.
Since the Clauses and Contents of the “Framework Agreement” of the GOI-NSCN (IM) are yet to be worked out as stated by the parties concerned, it is difficult to draw clear picture or analyze on the would-be bearing at this juncture. Yet, the leadership of the two should use their political wisdom while working out for the Clauses which should be suitable and workable as per the political and historical environment of the Region. If the leaderships of the country wisely apply their mind at this most crucial juncture, then some chain of positive development may emerge. It all depends how they apply their wisdom.
Unfortunately, many mainland media started their news bombardment soon after the signing of the “Framework Agreement” was over. Several unfounded issues totally unconnected with the Naga issue by wrongly mentioning many historical chapters and names have been incorporated in their stories. Before the two parties spelling out of the nature of “Framework Agreement,” they have started giving all sort of speculative stories even at times look like they know everything of the contents of the “Framework Agreement.” The mindset of many mainland media should change. It is only because of the strong media forces in the Region, many things have been saved from being destroyed.
Bottom Line:
I had seen the way how the mainland media tried their best to twist the unfortunate ambush on Indian Army on June 4 at Manipur’s Chandel district and afterwards even to the extent of saying that India Army’s surgical strikes could kill 100 Naga militants, sometimes 80, sometimes 60, sometimes 40 by crossing International boundary in Myanmar. They could even use the photograph of the Indian Army helicopter taken during Nepal relief service in 2013 as if it was taken in surgical strikes in Myanmar territory in 2015.
I always said this is information age – unlike 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even latest by 90s. The people cannot be easily fooled in 2015 and afterwards.

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Nagaland: When will TR Zeliang expand his Ministry ?

By Oken Jeet Sandham When the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued directive to the two NPF groups on March 27 to hold their “General Convention” with their active

By Oken Jeet Sandham

When the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued directive to the two NPF groups on March 27 to hold their “General Convention” with their active members to end their crisis, things have taken place in that direction as both the groups have issued necessary notices for the same. The directive of the ECI has been seen some sort of “peacemaking mission.” It has not given any ruling on who is right or who is wrong. In other words, the ECI directive has clearly indicated that the issue is “internal of the NPF.”

The most interesting part is the ECI directive in its para 10 says, “No record has been placed, nor even vaguely averred, by either of the two groups before the Commission showing that the remedy provided in the Party constitution for determining the dispute out of the present split has been resorted to, exhausted or even attempted. When there is a specific and express remedy provided in the Party constitution itself which is binding on all members of the party, to deal with any specific issue concerning the party, such remedy should be exhausted first before seeking a decision from the Commission. The Commission is thus of the considered view that it would be premature for the Commission to pass orders on the present question of the split at this stage.”
The ECI has directed both NPF groups to follow Article XIV of the NPF Constitution for “getting the dispute resolved with the decision of the Active Members of the party as per the procedure laid down therein.” And the outcome of the meeting being conducted as per Article XIV of the Party Constitution should be submitted to the ECI.

More interestingly, the ECI in its directive in Para 11 says: “The Commission hopes and expects that the internal dispute in the party will be settled amicably within the framework of the Party constitution which would pave way for its harmonious function, not only in its own interest but also in the interest of the State of Nagaland where it is ruling party.”
After carefully observing the aforementioned points of the ECI, its role is a “peacemaking mission” something like “conflict resolution.” Never mind, the people of the northeast has been living in the midst of “all types social and political conflicts due to unresolved political conflicts nearly 70 years.” Nearly 90% of the population in the whole of the northeast were born after India gets her Independence and they have been hearing only “conflicts” and many intellectuals, educationists, political pundits usually love talking about “political conflicts” of the region with New Delhi. Ironically, it goes on without giving any remedies till now.

There are pseudo-intellectuals in our society all along talking with beautifully orchestrated “conflict resolution theories” with blank input of solution. So when the ECI plays more of a “peacemaking” role for resolving the conflict of the NPF groups by wisely referring to the party’s Constitution, it works.
Yet, politics is, no doubt, an art of compromise as often said, “There is no permanent friend or foe in politics.” After all, it is all politics and it surprises none.
However, the question is – “Why did Chief Minister TR Zeliang move for “Confidence Motion” of his government when the “NPF” had “internal crisis?” What happened to his government when 22 NPF dissident MLAs led by G Kaito Aye challenged his leadership?
But Kaito had his own political maneuver by supporting the “Confidence Motion.” Corroborating their move, the veteran lawmaker justified that they would not go against “our DAN government” as their move was purely against the leadership of TR.

The Opposition Congress, which played a very crucial role in rescuing the beleaguered TR from the unprecedented political web, would have hit the jackpot, had the BJP MLAs remained neutral during the “Confidence Motion.” But the BJP High Command played another political maneuver by pulling the rug at an unpredicted time. This is also “politics,” anyway.
Nevertheless, the most interesting part is not the ECI’s directive but Chief Minister TR Zeliang’s fumbling on the expansion of his Ministry. It has been three and half months since 22 dissident NPF MLAs openly revolted against his leadership that he has been running the DAN government without filling up the four Cabinet Ministerial Posts which remained vacant after G Kaito Aye, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu, Noke Wangnao and Dr Benjongliba Aier were dropped. Expectations are running high that he will exercise expansion of his Ministry, at least, after March 27 ECI directives. But things remain the same if not complicated.

But the question is – How long will TR continue his government without expanding his Ministry? Is there any logic for him to remain in the same fashion? If he further delays expansion of his Ministry, then the people of Nagaland will be made to believe something otherwise on him. If he continues with the current mode with no efforts to expand and restructure the Ministry, he will only push the state backward. The world is moving so fast and we seem to be more complacent even after fully knowing of the continuous deficiencies in the governing. The present trend should not continue further as it will cause irreparable loss to the people of Nagaland in the long run.

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Nagaland heading for Opposition-less government; not healthy in democratic government

By Oken Jeet Sandham When press people asked Chief Minister TR Zeliang as to when he would fill the vacant Cabinet posts in his Council of Ministers. “Any time after

By Oken Jeet Sandham
When press people asked Chief Minister TR Zeliang as to when he would fill the vacant Cabinet posts in his Council of Ministers. “Any time after the Assembly,” he told the good-tempered journalists who still wanted to know about the Congress’ joining his Ministry. The suave Chief Minister gave his final nod approving the Congress’ joining the DAN government. “It will now be a party-less government in Nagaland,” he said.
Everyone has been nervously watching at every move of TR and things now become crystal clear that the Congress will be a part of his DAN government in Nagaland. In fact, hours after winning the “Confidence Motion” with 59 Members in the House of sixty voting in favor it, TR, while talking to the press at his official residence, only hinted that there would soon be “a party-less government” in Nagaland.
CLP leader Tokheho Yepthomi has already stated that they would now join the DAN government in the state, and according to sources, at least two Cabinet posts will go to the Congress while the rest may be awarded with Parliamentary Secretary posts. The Congress has eight MLAs. The BJP, an important ally of the ruling DAN since its inception in 2003, has four MLAs. There are diametrical political ideologies between these two giant national political parties not only at the Center but also everywhere in the country. Dynamic Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads the current BJP-led NDA government at the Center while the Congress plays main Opposition. In fact, the Congress, which led the 10-year old UPA government at the Center, suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of the BJP in the last 16th Lok Sabha elections. They had even double humiliations as the strength of the Congress MPs did not qualify them to have “Leader of the Opposition” tag in Parliament, though they still emerged as the largest Opposition party among the Opposition parties.
The fundamental question arises is can the Congress and the BJP go together in the same boat in any state or for that matter in Nagaland. It is very unlikely but the case in Nagaland becomes rare. And when the press people asked TR as to how two political parties having history of bitter political rivalries in the country would allow their party MLAs to be part of the same government in Nagaland, his reply was more classic saying “National issues are different from local issues.” There should not be any problem having both the Congress and the BJP in his DAN government in Nagaland, he replied.
We all have to remain finger-crossed and watch how TR is going to play his magic wand till such time formal induction of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries take place. In all likelihood, there will be some reactions after the induction ceremonies.
It is also understood that TR has to fulfill whatever he had a deal with Congress because the party’s (Congress) crucial role played at the time of “Confidence Motion” changed the entire political equation in the state. The survival theory as TR thought of by taking the support of the main Opposition Congress during his trial time might be politically correct but he cannot overlook the importance of BJP as they are currently at the helms at Delhi.
After taking the Congress to his boat, Nagaland Chief Minister, who is also Minister in-charge of Finance, will not be that lively in re-pleading with the ruling Central BJP leaders to rescue the state from its financial quagmire. He, while presenting the Vote on Account on the Floor of Assembly on March 17, highlighted his passionate pleadings with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister on many occasions to rescue the state from its precarious financial position. So, his magic wand should be watched in what manner the Central BJP leaders will be convinced for taking the Congress into the ruling DAN fold.
Bottom Line:
Actually if there is party-less government in Nagaland, then it should not be the problem. The problem is Opposition-less government which is not healthy in a democratic system of government.
In the last SC Jamir Congress ministry in Nagaland, only one Independent MLA Mavil Khieya was acting all along as the “lone Opposition” in the House of Sixty. Numerically, a single opposition MLA in the House of Sixty sounds funny but Khieya not only kept the 60-Member House a good-humor atmosphere but also could embarrass then Leader of the House Jamir and his Deputy Neiphiu Rio, who was Home Minister. Many legislators, media personnel, state officials and publics appreciated Khieya for his bold role as single Opposition Member in the 60-Member House. Had Khieya not been there as lone Opposition, we would have dormant government then in Nagaland.
But in the present case where TR is going to run a new form of Opposition-less government will not healthy at all. Because, in a democratic form of government such as ours, the role of opposition is a must so that the welfare state does not suffer. In the absence of Opposition, no government can function effectively.
Yepthomi, CLP leader, without doubt, is the most vocal opposition face in the Assembly. He is well-versed with many areas of governmental and administrative loopholes. He did his homework well before coming to any Assembly Sessions. His suggestions on important issues during Assembly Sessions were always taken seriously and even majority Members in the Treasury Bench  appreciated his in-depth knowledge in many areas concerning the state. His and other Congress MLAs’ joining the ruling DAN will be the beginning to end the charm of democracy till another real opposition emerges.
Yes, many might have perceived that the legislators belonging to NPF (N) would act as Opposition in the Assembly. But in all likelihood,  such thing may not happen because they had categorically stated on the Floor of the House minutes before voting in favor of “Confidence Motion” on February 5that they would not go against their “own government.”

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Injustice to Indian boxer Sarita tarnishes images of boxing world & 17th Incheon Asian Games

By Oken Jeet Sandham In my 36 years of sports careers particularly in the field of martials arts – Karate, Kick-Boxing and later 25 years in Muaythai – I have

By Oken Jeet Sandham
In my 36 years of sports careers particularly in the field of martials arts – Karate, Kick-Boxing and later 25 years in Muaythai – I have never come across such a humiliating sporting incidents like the one where India’s boxing star Sarita Devi’s semifinal fight against her South Korean opponent Jina Park on September 30, 2014 on the ongoing 17th Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea.
I was having food while Sarita’s boxing match with her South Korean opponent Park came in on live TV. I just shoved my plate aside and started gluing to the live TV showing her dominating fight against her opponent. The first round was somewhat neck to neck though she was slightly ahead of her opponent. But the rest of the rounds, she gave her ferocious punches to her opponent with her fantastic footwork. Even at following rounds, Park simply could not defend herself Sarita’s ferocious attacks and was off-balanced at many times.
Being in sports for 36 years and also having judged on many world kick Boxing and Muaythai tournaments including 13th Asian Games at Bangkok in 1998 and also 24th SEA Games at Korat, Thailand in 2007, I was banging my dining table as soon as the Sarita’s fight against Park was over, shouting, “Oh, Sarita wins.” But in no time, all hell broke loose when the referee lifted Park’s hand as winner. I was still speechless and remained as stupor unbelieving the judging over this match, because it was so hugely different the boxing skills and prowess between the two boxers. Sarita’s boxing skills and prowess dominated during the fight. This greatest injustice sent instant shock waves across the world.
I would not have much thinking even if Park was declared winner if their fight was somehow neck-to-neck or near neck-to-neck. But in the case of Sarita’s semifinal fight against Park on September 30 at Seonhak Gymnasium was something no judges could manipulate for the simple fact that Sarita had far exceeded than her opponent in attacks and punches with excellent footwork.
Then seeing the points given by the judges on their match becoming more ridiculous because the entire judges came in favor of Park and not even one judge came in favor of Sarita. This incident has simply tarnished the image of the technical officials of AIBA besides creating massive question mark on their activities.
In any game, the standard of the match depends on the quality of judging and not the match. Even for any new game to get Olympic recognition it’s judging and refereeing needs first examining. And if the judging and refereeing are not up to the mark, no game can be qualified to enter into Olympic Games or Asian Games.
Whatever the explanations or arguments that might come after this highly questionable and controversial match, the simple and plain truth is this historic match has been video recorded and telecast worldwide. The match has been in YouTube and other social media networking sites and it can never be misinterpreted.
In fact, the whole country was overjoyed when legendary India boxer Mary Kom won Gold Medal in 51kg category in the Asian Games a day after Sarita’s final berth in the 60kg category was deliberately robbed off. But Sarita’s controversial match was prominently splashed in all the front pages of newspapers in India and the country’s media had done remarkable justice by openly defying the controversial results given by the judges on Sarita’s fight against Park. They said she lost out due to “unfair” decisions during her bout. They all agreed that Sarita was the real winner in her historic semifinal match against Park. Even for the first time, international media had given coverage prominently around the world on the controversial boxing match between Sarita and Park.
Some papers feel Sarita Devi was a “clear winner” in her lightweight (57-60kg) semifinal bout against South Korean Ji-Na Park on Wednesday.
The Indian Express says” “Sarita appears to be a clear winner in the bout… dominating the proceedings with such ferocity that Park barely managed to stand the assault. But much to the shock of the Indian contingent and the spectators, the judges awarded the bout to Park.”
A report on the Mint website says the controversial result has been “widely condemned as unfair and biased towards the host country.”
Sarita’s refusal to accept her bronze medal and her outburst of emotions on the podium dimmed the celebration of Mary Kom’s victory. But the Mint website adds that “it was a day of tears in the boxing arena at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Some happy, some sad.”
The follow up developments have exposed a very shoddy affairs of the boxing officials from India as well as the officials from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). I have agreed that a grave injustice was meted out to Sarita by the judges but it was a double whammy that no officials either from Indian Boxing or Indian Olympic came forward to formally lodge complaints forget about consoling her. It was simply unimaginable that Sarita had to borrow money from the Indian media persons for protest fees. But she as a player could not lodge any complaint whatsoever with the Judging Committee. Where were the officials be it Indian Boxing officials or Olympic Officials. Are they aware of the rules of the games that in the event of any controversial results given by judges, officials were the ones authorized to formally lodge complaints along with whatever protest fees prescribed as per the rules and regulation framed by that respective International Federations.
Although some including deputy general of Incheon’s organizing committee (IAGOC) say that Sarita’s refusal to accept her bronze medal on the podium went against the values of sportsmanship, no one at home takes it that way. Everyone in India appreciated her actions rather, though it happened with her unprecedented emotional outburst. But the mistake was not Park’s but the judges who should be suspended from judging any future boxing tournaments.
At the same time, the injustice meted out to Sarita tarnishes the beautiful image of the 17th Asian Games at Incheon. It also exposes shoddy attitudes of Indian Boxing officials as well as Indian Olympic officials.

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Nagaland: NCP and BJP official notification for merger expected by Wednesday

By Oken Jeet Sandham KOHIMA, June 24 (NEPS):  Former office bearers of NCP, Nagaland Unit led by its former president Imtilemba Sangtam, MLA, have appeared before the Speaker of the

By Oken Jeet Sandham
KOHIMA, June 24 (NEPS):  Former office bearers of NCP, Nagaland Unit led by its former president Imtilemba Sangtam, MLA, have appeared before the Speaker of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Chotisuh Sazo at his Office Chamber on Tuesday to validate their resolution passed on June 16, 2014 for their formal “merger claim” with the BJP in Nagaland.
Photo caption: Nagaland Assembly Speaker (left) at his office examining the documents of three NCP MLAs’ merger claim with BJP, Nagaland. (Right) Former NCP office bearers with Imtilemba Sangtam, MLA, coming out after appearing before Speaker, Nagaland Assembly on June 24, 2014. Photo by Oken Jeet Sandham/NEPS

Photo caption: Nagaland Assembly Speaker (left) at his office examining the documents of three NCP MLAs’ merger claim with BJP, Nagaland. (Right) Former NCP office bearers with Imtilemba Sangtam, MLA, coming out after appearing before Speaker, Nagaland Assembly on June 24, 2014. Photo by Oken Jeet Sandham/NEPS

Sazo, who was out for a week, reached Kohima late last night and could not attend to the documents of the 3 Nagaland NCP MLAs’ merger claim with the BJP in Nagaland. He, however, called the Nagaland Unit of NCP’s former office bearers and their president to appear before him at his office on Tuesday and validate their signatures appended to the “resolution” passed by them on June 16, 2014 for their merger claim along with their three MLAs with the BJP in Nagaland.
At about 3 PM on Tuesday, the former NCP Nagaland Unit office bearers led by Imtilemba Sangtam, MLA, appeared before the Speaker at his office chamber and verified all their signatures appended to their resolution for merger claim with the BJP, Nagaland.
Talking to NEPS soon after appearing before the Speaker, Sangtam said the Speaker was now satisfied after crosschecking their credentials and expressed the hope that “Official Notification” for the “Merger” of three NCP MLAs along with their party supporters with the BJP, Nagaland could be issued by Wednesday.
Talking to NEPS at his office chamber on Tuesday, Speaker Sazo disclosed that he had called the NCP office bearers and their president to appear before him at his office as he wanted to crosscheck their credentials on their “Resolution” passed on June 16, 2014 of their formal “merger claim” with the BJP, Nagaland.
Sazo also disclosed that he received documents from the three NCP MLAs—Imtilemba Sangtam, Dr TM Lotha and Mmhonlumo Kikon—with their party resolutions and Nagaland BJP’s acceptance resolution of the merger on June 16, 2014. “But I sought some more additional documents from them to furnish whether there was any resolution of the NCP National Political Party deciding to merge their party with the BJP or any authorization to the State Unit of NCP to take any decision in this regard. At the same time, whether there was any resolution of the BJP National Political Party accepting the merger of the NCP with BJP” he said.
“Because this is Constitutional matters and I need to thoroughly examine by consulting with legal and constitutional experts before any official notification with regard to the merger claim is issued from my office,” Sazo explained. “At the same time, I also have to listen to the views and counter views expressed by the parties concerned to the present development following the three NCP MLAs’ merger claim with the BJP.”
Asked when he would give official notification to the three NCP MLAs’ merger claim with the BJP, Nagaland, the Speaker said, “May not be today.” Although he did not specify the date of issuing the official notification, it is believed that “Official Notification” for the three NCP MLAs’ merger claim with BJP, Nagaland may be issued by Wednesday.


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Assam – Nagaland Interim Border Agreement should be scrapped

Assam-Nagaland Interim Border Agreement should be scrapped By Oken Jeet Sandham One of the most humiliating chapters in the history of Nagaland since Statehood would be, perhaps, its inability to

Assam-Nagaland Interim Border Agreement should be scrapped
By Oken Jeet Sandham
One of the most humiliating chapters in the history of Nagaland since Statehood would be, perhaps, its inability to conduct elections on its own soil at Ladaigrah under Longlen District, bordering Assam, due to Assam Police’s deliberate threat and refusal to vacate a Nagaland school building wherein the polling was supposed to take place.
Everyone including the media in Nagaland were stunned when they saw the news along with a picture showing the Assam Police blocking the road preventing Nagaland polling officials from proceeding toward Ladaigarh to conduct polls for the Ladaigarh Polling Station No. 1 under 49 Tamlu A/C. Later in the day, it was declared that the polling at Ladaigarh could not be conducted due to Assam Police’s blocking of road leading to Ladaigarh and thus it (polling) had been adjourned.
In the past also, the Assam police did the same thing. But the previous elections, somehow a makeshift polling station was arranged nearby and allowed the voters to exercise their franchise. But this time, the situation was altogether different that not only murdering the rights of the voters to exercise their franchise but also not allowing the Nagaland polling officials from proceeding towards their polling station at Ladaigarh. But the saddest part was the state government’s inability to make any arrangement for the voters to exercise their franchise. If the Assam police refused Nagaland polling officials from proceeding to Ladaigarh, the Nagaland government could have airlifted those polling officials to conduct the polls there. But they did not.
It is unfortunate that when the state of Nagaland was created in the early 60s, the drawing of the new state boundary was not properly carried out. And once the new state was carved out from the existing state, the boundary had to be drawn and the necessary border machineries should be put into place. These unresolved border issues have really taken quite a toll on the lives of people on both sides.
It is only understandable that such border skirmishes would take place from time to time but they should not be misinterpreted as threatening to the aged old relationship between the two neighboring people. The people of the two states should not, at any cost, allow this issue lingering.
Most of the incidents including the Ladaigrah episode that have been taking place in the Assam-Nagaland border areas were something to do with longstanding unresolved inter-state border issues. Many issues were to do with paddy fields, farmlands, forests, etc. as per the past records. There were allegations from Nagaland border side that some people from across the border descended on their ancestral paddy fields, farmlands and even forcibly grabbed their lands with the help of Assam armed police as well as neutral forces. On the other side, there were also allegations that the Nagas from across the border encroached Assam’s lands or killed wild animals. And sometimes, clashes took place on either side while stepping into either side. Sometimes, such issues became hot debates even during assembly sessions of both the states. Yet, they were also resolved through series of dialogues at various levels.
Regrettably, large numbers of non-locals have been systematically occupying the long stretch of Assam border over the years and their numbers keep increasing leaps and bounds. And the people of Assam have little knowledge of what these non-locals have been doing on the state’s border areas.
To ease the border problem between the two states, the Assam-Nagaland Interim Border Agreement as early as 1972 was made. This Agreement was meant to lessen border tension, while trying to find long lasting solution to the border issue.
The problem is this Interim Border Agreement was not implemented in toto. Rather it became a tool for the Assam government to strengthen their state forces along the border, while Nagaland relegated to a helpless position as they had to oblige to the terms of the agreement. According to information, Assam has 44 Assam armed police posts set up all along the Assam-Nagaland border in violation of the Interim Agreement; whereas there is reportedly 1 Nagaland armed police post all along the border. In other words, Nagaland was sincere if not over-sincere.
As per the Agreement, the Disputed Area Belt (DAB) should be placed under the neutral forces. Interestingly, such forces are placed again under the command of an IG of Assam police. And also Nagaland government temporarily allowed the Assam forest department for the management of the border reserved forests in the DAB. But due to the mismanagement by the Assam forest department, people from both sides started settling in the disputed reserved forest areas. Subsequently both the Assam and Nagaland governments had given recognition to those settlers.
Today, the problem is more complicated because the people living in the border areas of Assam are mostly non-locals but the Nagaland side becomes helpless as they do not know to whom they will talk. We have seen that some non-locals started talking the language of locals to restore aged old relationship between the Nagas and the Assamese. This interesting development might have confused some leaders in Nagaland. We started seeing some statements made by some responsible Naga Ministers saying they would not talk to “Adivasis” for resolving Assam-Nagaland border raw. But they failed to realize that by uttering this way, you would be paying attention to them instead of focusing on the right persons. It looks like you have been asked to talk to these people to resolve border raw with Assam. Let us be wiser and focus on the real issue plaguing both the states.
This so-called Assam-Nagaland Interim Border Agreement 1972 is a blunder and it has become a bond of contention between the people of the two neighboring states. The first step to find solution to the chronic border issue is this “Assam-Nagaland Interim Border Agreement” should be scrapped.
At the same time, both the states should immediately engage in serious business to frame new Border Agreement. Only then should they constitute an Assam-Nagaland Border Committee wherein persons with high social standing from both the states should be appointed as Members for a period of 5 years and their term can be extended on periodic basis. Their main job is to check the border irregularities and also examine the process of implementation of the Agreement.
It is still afresh in our memories about the infamous interstate clashes at Merapani in 1985 over border issue. No one thought the relationship would return as good as before. But the aged old relationship had fast returned. Because both sides can’t afford remaining un-neighborly as they will remain as neighbors till this beautiful God given earth exists.
The construction of “Foothill Road” on Nagaland border is very important for the development of the state. But this should not be misinterpreted as solution to the Assam-Nagaland border issue. The failure to find solution to the Assam-Nagaland border issue is not due to not constructing “Foothill Road.” Nevertheless, you can construct hundreds of new roads. It is your prerogative. But the Assam-Nagaland border raw can only be resolved provided both parties are sincere.

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Impact of social media while our elections & politics groping in the dark

By Oken Jeet Sandham Literally, every person on the street has Facebook Account. In other countries and even in major Indian cities, whether cobbler or rickshaw puller or barber or

By Oken Jeet Sandham
Literally, every person on the street has Facebook Account. In other countries and even in major Indian cities, whether cobbler or rickshaw puller or barber or vegetable vender, they mostly have social media accounts, particularly Facebook. Almost every restaurant – whether small or big – has free Internet facilities through Wi-Fi. Everyone coming to the restaurants is normally seen enjoying free Internet facilities through the Wi-Fi services, while enjoying various cuisines. The whole world is virtually at their fingertips.
Over 80% of the world leaders now have their own social media accounts, particularly Facebook. Starting from mere local politicians to Prime Ministers and Presidents, they all have owned their own social media sites. Many Queens and Kings also have joined social media. Most of them used Facebook extensively to promote their missions and charitable works, while those politicians would do their best to propagate their political and social agendas. Millions of Facebook users will also systematically use the social media sites (Facebook) to promote their commercial ventures. Various professionals will use Facebook to promote their professional programs. To a great extent, their purposes are served.
Since the advent of Facebook, the communities of the world are more connected than ever before. The boundaries have virtually disappeared and the world communities become one family. The people don’t wait any important information of any candidates these days; they can easily get it through their Facebook sites. Besides this, the general publics can directly put their questions in their social media sites and even join debates in it.
We have seen how the last American Presidential elections were fought through various social media sites. Barack Obama and his Republican rivals Senator John McCain and later with Mitt Romney virtually had their presidential campaigns organized in the Facebook and it had largely worked to capture the mood of the voters who were also users of Facebook and other social media sites.
The last American Presidential elections had shown to the world that no one could any longer fight without Facebook and other Social media machines. After the American elections were over, numbers of Facebook and other social media users were seen a quantum jump and it still keeps surging.
Every Prime Minister or President of the world would have their Facebook with millions following them. They virtually pitted against each other for their political and electoral battles. They could systematically advance to many areas. Every activity of any Prime Minister or the main Opposition Leader will be instantly uploaded in their Facebook before it goes to any other online publications, forget about Print Media that will come next day only.
In India, we have now witnessed unprecedented use of Facebook and Twitter, etc. during this time’s upcoming 16th Indian Lok Sabha elections by contending candidates and their political parties. They have been constantly uploading news of election campaigns in their respective social media sites. According to report, the social media, particularly Facebook will play a major role in 2014 elections. It said out of 534 constituencies, 160 were identified as High impact zones, 67 were identified as Medium impact zones while the rest were classified as Low impact zones.
It further disclosed that they were categorized on the basis of internet and Facebook users in that particular constituency. On basis of data collected from past year and equating it with current stats, it concluded that the High impact zones will be the major game changer in 2014 elections.
Nadrendra Modi, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate has millions of Facebook and Twitter followers. His electioneering news is constantly uploaded in his and his BJP’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Congress Star Campaigner Rahul Gandhi also equally uses the services of the Facebook and Twitter for propagating his electioneering campaigns, while Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh too can’t help but depending on social media like Facebook to put his political agendas and developments, etc.
Though he projected himself very simple, Arvind Kejriwal, former Delhi Chief Minister and leader of AAP, couldn’t progress without depending on social media. He had to convey his thought, ideas and election campaigns through social media in many cases. In fact, the social media plays integral, both to the candidates and the public.
In India, every political party has their social media sites today. They too have used benefits of the sites to the fullest possible manner to advance their political agendas. Massive political propaganda has been created through Facebook and Twitter by every political party and their leader to project that they are the savior of the country. If closely monitored, it appears that they are unlikely to play politics without the services of Facebook and Twitter. What a revolution indeed.
Even in the Region, State Units of various National Political Parties like the BJP, Congress, etc. have opened their own social media sites and played their own games to only strengthen their propaganda machine.
Every media house does have their own various social media sites, so do all the media persons. In fact, some of the national media houses constantly upload every new development in their news portals as well as their Facebook and Twitter. These have happened, over and above their print editions. Even the electronic media like TV Channels, in spite of their live telecast of each and every development, do constantly upload their news in their Facebook and Twitter.
In Nagaland too, number of social media users are seen increasing leaps and bound. There are heated debates taking place on various issues facing them in their social media sites. Facebook has given space for each and every person to share their thoughts, ideas and plights, etc.
Hundreds of users throw their questions in the Facebook daily or hourly with regard to the current Lok Sabha elections as well as Naga political issue. It is interesting to note that while AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi was addressing a mammoth election rally at Kohima Local Ground on March 27, news of his address was being uploaded in Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. How advance the Social Media of today is? In fact, immediate political debates generated when he raised the controversial points with regard to Naga political issue where he said, “I will not give any promise as your Chief Minister who said he would bring solution to the Naga issue within three months if he was voted to power.”
Before NPF formally lodged its complaint, the actual debates were over within few hours as soon as it was uploaded in the Facebook and Twitter. It went viral.
It is regretted that NPF and NPCC have just opened their Facebook accounts with hardly any following them. Hardly election campaign news is seen uploading in their sites. They should engage their media personnel to work for their social media sites. Nagaland BJP Unit has, however, been maintaining their Facebook site well.
NPF candidate Neiphiu Rio, who is also DAN consensus candidate, has nearly 500 followers, while Congress Candidate KV Pusa’s seemed to have just been opened recently with less than 100 followers. Some of their party functionaries, of course, have their social media accounts opened. This development clearly shows that they are yet to know the value of social media.
Looking at the present scenario, Nagaland political activities are yet to catch up the social media importance. They are still in the dark while others are busy uploading their activities, yet they do not know what is happening in Facebook with their stories. Here is a wakeup call for our political leaders to join the Facebook or else they will be left out.

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DoNER Ministry does not make Northeast better

By Oken Jeet Sandham (NEPS News Service) The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), established in September 2001, was just a nodal Department of the Central Government to

By Oken Jeet Sandham (NEPS News Service)

The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), established in September 2001, was just a nodal Department of the Central Government to deal with matters related to the socio-economic development of the Northeastern States of India. It was later accorded the status of a full-fledged Ministry in 2004. The basic idea of establishing this Ministry was to bridge the economic and developmental imbalances that had been between the Region and the rest of the country. 

North Eastern States in India

North Eastern States in India

There was initial euphoria over the creation of this Ministry but it didn’t take long before it went into oblivion.

In the past, any Minister who was in-charge of the Ministry happened to be from outside the Region. Some of them were Dr CP Thakur from Bihar, Mani Shankar Aiyar from TN, etc. Otherwise in other times, it was headed by Ministers hailing from the Northeastern Region. Some of them were Bijoy Krishna Handique, Paban Singh Ghatowar, etc. Ghatowar is incumbent Minister for DoNER.

It has been 13 years now that neither significant economic growth nor any policy for the economic development was seen. We only hear of earmarking 10% of their Annual Plan Budgets by Central Ministries for the North Eastern Region to address the development deficit of the NER. Earmarking of 10% of the Annual Plan Budget of over 52 Ministries of the Union Government is immense. Yet, we hardly know how the money is spent.

The present DoNER Minister Ghatowar is, perhaps, the most unpopular DoNER Minister in the history of the Ministry since 2001. Interestingly, performances by DoNER Ministers who were from outside the Region were better than those Ministers hailing from the Region itself. In fact, Aiyar when he was DoNER Minister tried his best to become closer to the people of the Region and within no time, the people of the Region could feel quite comfortable with him. Aiyar himself used to highlight many burning issues of the Region in many fora when he was DoNER Minister and Union Minister for Sports as well.

On the contrary, past DoNER Ministers hailing from the Region were mostly shrouded with controversies and they miserably failed to be in the good book of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Handique as DoNER Minister was a non-performer and Prime Minister, at last, was compelled to replace him with Ghatowar as DoNER Minister. Regrettably, Ghatowar could not be better either but it was too late for the poor Prime Minister to rectify anything of this fragile and namesake Ministry of the Region.
In order to streamline, a serious review of the functioning of the DonER Ministry is essential.

Some of the urgent steps to be taken up are:

  •  The Office of the DoNER Ministry should be placed anywhere in the Northeast preferably at Shillong or Guwahati, instead of Delhi.
  •  Any MP from anywhere in the country can be appointed as DoNER Minister, not necessarily only from Northeast Region. The crux of the point is he or she should fairly perform and deliver.
  • A nodal officer with minimum supportive staffs can be appointed and placed at each State Capital Headquarter of the Region. So that implementation of works can be expedited, besides it will minimize physical, financial and metal burdens to many. Citizens can also get proper access to the offices and get all the necessary information of the works under the Ministry meant for them.
  •  The budgetary allocation for the DoNER Ministry, which is normally done on Lump sum, should be enhanced triple as the current allocation is too meagre to take up any noticeable projects in the Region.
  •  The DoNER Ministry should come up with modalities suitable with the Region’s environment, while constantly working on to incorporate the fundamental national character into the regional mainstream.
  •  The DoNER Ministry should formulate modalities to incorporate the regional character into the national mainstream by tying up with various Ministries from time to time. This way the social fabric of national character remains.
  •  North Eastern Council (NEC), which has its head office at Shillong, should be restructured and restored to its earlier model where any serving Governor of any State in the Region was Chairman. It was on rotational basis. This system was, later, done away with. Now any DoNER Minister would automatically become the Chairman of the NEC and functions from Delhi. This way, the functioning of the NEC has been badly affected. NEC is normally considered as Regional Mini Planning Commission and therefore, it is more appropriate going back to its earlier model by reappointing any senior serving Governor of any State in the Region as Chairman of it. In this way, the NEC can be effectively administered.

Bottom Line:
The Northeast Region will be completely crippled if these two institutions remain immobile. Therefore, restructuring these institutions is of urgent necessity. In a way, their activities are at the lowest ebb. Corruption, nepotism, favoritism, etc. have allegedly dominated in the overall functioning of the DoNER Ministry.
In spite of having our own Ministry vis-à-vis Northeast Region, the Minister serving there would hardly pay any visit to any of the States of the Region during their tenure. Many educated youth of the Region keep talking that there is a Ministry called DoNER at the Center looking after their welfare, but they have no knowledge of the nitty-gritty of the Ministry. In fact, hardly does anyone know the nature of the Ministry.

The high expectation that this Ministry would deliver goods to the people of the Region was extremely negligible. It is really lamentable the way they have chosen to remain silent when the Parliament was rocked due to the continued racial attacks on the Northeast students at the national capital. The DoNER Ministry should try to live up to the expectation of the people of the Region and also be a strong advocate for the issues facing the Northeast people in not only national capital but also other major cities of the country.

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World’s Greatest British Battle in Kohima-Imphal and things unanswered

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World’s Greatest British Battle in Kohima-Imphal and things unanswered By Oken Jeet Sandham The people of the Northeast India particularly living in Manipur and Nagaland had mix-feelings and prides when they got the news that the Second World War, which … Continue reading

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World’s Greatest British Battle in Kohima-Imphal and things unanswered

By Oken Jeet Sandham

The people of the Northeast India particularly living in Manipur and Nagaland had mix-feelings and prides when they got the news that the Second World War, which were fought between the British Army and the Japanese Army in the Imphal and Kohima sectors in 1944, was declared as the “Greatest British Battle” in the world. And when this news flashed from London, it hit the headlines here in the region of north east India.

Noted war historians presented their papers on the past British wars fought across the globe. They were given 40 minutes to present their papers. This was conducted under the Britain’s National Army Museum to identify “Britain’s Greatest Battle.” And finally, the two victories over the Japanese, which took place in the same region of the north east India over the same period in 1944, were voted on Saturday as the “Greatest ever battle involving British forces.”

Taken as a single victory, Imphal-Kohima was on a shortlist of five battles which topped a public poll and on Saturday, they were selected as the ultimate winner by an audience of more than 100 guests at a special event at the museum, in Chelsea, west London. Imphal-Kohima, a distance of 145 kilometers and connected through a National Highway 39 (now 2), received almost half of all votes. This remarkable presentation on “Second World War fought in Imphal and Kohima sectors” was done by Dr Robert Lyman, an author and fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Although people living in the northeastern part of India bordering Burma (now Myanmar) borne the brunt of this Second World War, they still have the pride of telling the stories of these historic and great wars fought in this part of the world. I have come across many grand old men and women who are now in their 80s and 90s could vividly tell the stories of the Second World War. Many of them experienced of being “Forced labor” by the British Army and also used to spy against the Japanese soldiers. Even the British Army who stationed in the Chakhesang and Angami areas also experienced untold miseries at the hands of the British Armies and also the Japanese. The British soldiers even burnt down their granaries with the intention to starve the advancing Japanese soldiers.

The Japanese army coming from the Homatin side of western Burma successfully pushed the British army and occupied the Jessami ridge. When the Japanese were trying to push back the British armies from the Jessami position, there were heavy exchange of fires and both sides suffered heavy causalities. The Japanese also shot down British fighter planes in many Chakhesang areas. After about a week of fierce gun battle; the British soldiers could no longer withstand the onslaught of the Japanese attacks. They had to retreat.

The villagers were so simple that they ran out to see whenever fighter planes flew overhead and enthusiastically watching the explosions of the bombs. They hardly realized that the bomb explosions would hurt them. In fact, many of them got hurt and the British jawans had tough time warning the villagers against coming out while fighter planes were coming and bombing. They even taught them how to dig trenches so that they would use them during bombings and even during gun fights between the British and Japanese soldiers. They instructed the villagers how to dig trenches in “V” shape for hiding themselves during bombings and serious gun fights. But the villagers didn’t pay any heed to such advices; instead they were enjoying digging trenches for the Japanese troops. So many villagers became victims as they didn’t take advices of the British.

The British soldiers were well-equipped and well-versed of the areas, besides more associated with the locals as they had been ruling the Indian sub-continent for years together. On the other hand, the Japanese soldiers coming from their homeland thousands of miles away from these areas of north east India were neither familiar with the locals nor area environment.

On one side, they had to fight the British armies. On the other, they faced a lot of hardships as they had to cope with the locals and area environment. They had to depend on the locals for not only fighting against the British but also for their sustenance. Without the support of the locals, it was almost impossible to fight against the British.

The British armies knew very well of this. They told the locals in advance that the advancing Japanese armies would come in different forms to extract the information of them (British armies).
Like the British army, the Japanese army too had their own intelligent armies who would mobilize information of the British army movement and their activities by using the services of the locals. Unfortunately, the ones mostly used by the British armies before the Japanese arrived at, would be again used by the Japanese to extract more information. Such trend became major threats on the lives of many innocent villagers.

In fact when the Japanese was about to be defeated, they even tried to kill many villagers as they thought they would be reused as spies by the British against them. But on many occasions, they faced strong resistance from the villagers.

Kohima, present capital of Nagaland state, was a place where one of the fiercest battles between the Japanese troops and the British troops took place in the history of the Second World War. These memorable battles at Kohima started from April 1944 and ended in June 1944. Japan was literally responsible for pushing Asia into full scale war. But most of the people in this part of the world in the 40s were not aware of that. The Japanese, in fact, attacked almost all the Asian nations and captured them. Their invasions of the Asian nations had prompted the Allies to specifically target their bases and even to the extent of dropping atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Kohima siege and the casualties caused to both the Japanese troops and the Allies during the Second World War in Kohima and Imphal sectors were unimaginable. The wars at Kohima and Imphal claimed the lives of 65,000 Japanese troops and 18,000 British and Indian soldiers.
There are three Second World War Cemeteries; one is at Kohima, the capital of India’s present state of Nagaland, while other two at Imphal, the capital of the India’s present state of Manipur. The upkeep of these Second World War Cemeteries here at Kohima and Imphal is under the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The Commission is responsible for the continued commemoration of 1.69 million deceased Commonwealth military service members in 150 countries. Since its inception, the Commission has constructed approximately 2,500 war cemeteries and numerous memorials. The Commission is currently responsible for the care of war dead at over 23,000 separate burial sites and the maintenance of more than 200 memorials worldwide.

Today, it has become a history in this part of the world as to how the allied soldiers valiantly fought against the aggressive Japanese troops as Kohima siege. The Kohima War Cemetery which lies at the heart of Kohima City has today become a living testimony. There are over 1000 grave markers and every tourist visiting this war cemetery will still have visualized how they had fought against the Japanese troops during those 13 days of Kohima siege. They gave their lives for freedom. And one of the famous inscriptions which everyone will remember throughout their lives is:
“When you go home
Tell them of us, and say
For their tomorrow
We gave our today.”

Another remarkable feat was the opening of the Second World War Museum at Kisama, some 12 kilometers away from Kohima. Many utensils, helmets, binoculars, wreckages of fighter plans, guns, etc. which were used by the British and the Japanese armies during the Second World War at Kohima are kept in this museum. Present Chief Minister of Nagaland Mr Neiphiu Rio should be credited for the establishment of this museum. Kisama is a place where famed Hornbill Festival is organized yearly in the first week of December and during this festival, there is an event which is exclusively organized in memory of the Second World War.

It is the Second World War Peace Car Rally where they will drive Jeeps, Nissans, etc. – some Second World War vintage cars while some painted ones likening to 1944 War Jeep models and participants included even the Chief Minister himself. Now this rally started attracting participants from other northeastern states of India. This Second World War Peace Car Rally organized as part of the Hornbill Festival is the most attractive events and the British and the Japanese Ambassadors or rather high ranking officials from England and Japan should be invited to witness this program. The most important message of this rally is to spread the message of peace and not war.

Nagaland Parliamentary Secretary Zhaleo Rio’s decision to build Mini Park at the Second World War tank site about half a kilometer away from the Kohima Raj Bhavan is appreciated and timely. The Parliamentary Secretary is the younger brother of Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
Today younger generations have forgotten these historic world wars that were fought in their land in 1944 and even not aware that their grandparents had not only borne the brunt of these wars but also joined British Army.Legendary regional politician and two-time Nagaland Chief Minister Vizol himself joined Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1946 during the Second World War.

Many grandparents could vividly tell the stories of these great wars fought in their places till today. Even my grandmother had the experience of running from one village to another when the British fighter planes bombed in the Imphal City in 1944. They left their homesteads and hid in the remote villages for months.

On one occasion at Imphal, there was a ritual program going on and the British fighter plane mistook it as gathering of enemies and they bombed there. Almost all died on the spot and my grandmother was one among the few survivors.
We have seen from the history as to how the British meddled in the affairs of Manipur. On February 21, 1891 Lord Lansdowne, the British Viceroy of India ordered J.W. Quinton, the chief commissioner of Assam, to recognize Kullachandra as the King but to arrest Jubaraj (Prince) Tikendrajit. Quinton arrived in Manipur on March 22, 1891 with 400 jawans under Colonel Skene and asked Raja Kullachandra to hand over Tikendrajit to him as desired by the British Governor General of India. In the evening of March 24, 1891, the British troops attacked Jubaraj Tikendrajit’s residence in the compound of Kangla Palace, killing many innocent civilians including women and children who were watching a Ras Lila dance. The Manipuri soldiers struck back and the British were put on the defensive. In the ensuing chaos, the people whose children, wives and relatives were killed the British army.

On March 31, 1891, the British Government declared war against Manipur (the Anglo-Manipur War) and 3 army columns from Kohima (under the command of Major General H. Collet), Silchar (under the command of Colonel R.H.F. Rennick) and Tamu (under the command of Brigadier General T. Graham) were sent to Manipur. Tikendrajit led the Manipuri army in this war. The British army finally took possession of the Kangla Palace on April 27, 1891.
This “Anglo-Manipur War of 1891” was also popularly known as “Khongjom Lal.” The Manipur Government observes yearly the Khongjom War Memorial.
Major Maxwell took over as the chief political agent. Later, Manipur became a princely state and Churachand Singh, a minor was placed on the throne of Manipur. Tikendrajit and other leaders of Manipur subsequently went underground.

The special court, formed under Lt. Col. John Mitchell for the trial commenced on May 11, 1891. The court found Tikendrajit, Kullachandra and Thangal General guilty and they were sentenced to death. The Governor General confirmed the death sentence passed on Tikendrajit and Thangal General and converted the death sentence of the Maharaja and Angousana into transportation for life. The order was announced on August 13, 1891 and Tikendrajit and Thangal General were publicly hanged at 5 pm of the same day at Kangjei-bung (Polo ground) in Imphal.

After independence, this ground in Imphal where he was hanged is renamed as Bir Tikendrajit Park, while one of the main markets at Imphal named as Thangal Bazar. The British hurt the sentiments of the people of Manipur when their General and Prince were publicly hanged. In memory of this tragic incident, the Government of Manipur along with the people observes “Patriotic Day” on August 13 yearly.
The British is also responsible for the turmoil the Naga people have been facing till today. Sections of people who had seen and studied the Second World War here in this part of the world got attracted to it and formed the opinion that they would be able to achieve what they wanted by taking up arms. But in the case of Nagas, who were fighting to live as a free nation, did not use those thousands of firearms left unattended after the war. These firearms were later collected by the Government. One thinks sometimes if these thousands of firearms, which were left by the British and Japanese armies after the war ended, were used by the rebels in the late 40s, what would be the fate of the Indian administration.

I still wonder as to why they had to take such a decision to feed opium to the Kanyaks while they were here. And because of this acts committed to this innocent tribes, they still remain enslaved as the most backward people educationally, economically, technologically and in fact in many areas. Opium is such a powerful substance that will dull the senses and make people shy away from meeting others. They are still struggling to catch up with their counterparts forget about other people in the world.

I even imagine how our parents and grandparents had endured when the Second World War took place here in Nagaland and Manipur if that particular war was adjudged as the “greatest battle ever fought on this earth.” Only God knows. There might be numerous untold stories of tragedies encountered by our parents and grandparents who witnessed this “greatest war of 1944 on earth.” This “greatest war on earth” did not benefit the people of Manipur and Nagaland. It was only “horror stories” when I listened to our parents and grandparents who witnessed this “greatest war on earth.” It only made us retrograded to centuries back. Had there been no war such as Second World War of 1944 in Nagaland and Manipur, by now we will be totally different.
Sometimes, I think the time has come for the British to acknowledge the services rendered by the people of Manipur and Nagaland not only maintaining the “War Cemeteries.”

There were many things left unanswered till today.
At the same time and of course, it would not be wrong to say that the lives, cultures and traditions of the people of Nagaland and Manipur had been greatly influenced by the Second World War. They knew what war is to them and may not like again to experience another war in this part of the world.
Many of our grandparents could still speak broken Japanese while many of them could also speak broken English though they never had formal education in their lifetime. Interestingly, many people in the north east India today can speak English fluently.

All these were also unique history. And when the war fought by the British armies against the Japanese troops in this part of the north east India was voted as the “Britain’s Greatest Battle” in the world, it only reminds me of what my grandparents and many elderly people said to me and it would never be complete without remembering of our forefathers and leaders who too sacrificed for the defense of our motherland.

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Is Nagaland heading for the President’s Rule?

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By Oken Jeet Sandham The Government of India’s indecisive stand on the crucial Naga political issue is all the more making “unprecedented confusion.” Sometimes they said solution in 12 months, on the other in 24 months. They also said solution … Continue reading

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By Oken Jeet Sandham

The Government of India’s indecisive stand on the crucial Naga political issue is all the more making “unprecedented confusion.” Sometimes they said solution in 12 months, on the other in 24 months. They also said solution to the Naga political issue would be in the month of December and again they stated solution would be before the coming of the Nagaland State general election due early next year. We really fail to understand why the Government of India is talking like this on a “political issue” which is, by any standard, one of the most important issues facing this country as of now.

Very interestingly, the Government of India has now again revealed that they have been talking to Chief Ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to find ways to resolve the “Naga political issue.” How can they go on like this? What have they been doing all these fifteen long years like a sitting duck only to throw ball in the courts of Chief Ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to see that the Naga political issue is settled.

But the CM of Manipur O Ibobi Singh is not going easy. He knows where he stands but very tactfully trying to throw the ball back to the Centre. He has technically forced them to disclose the contents of their “Agendas or Charters of Demand” so as to start examining on it for finding logical solution. The “Honourable” political settlement to the Nagas may not be “Honourable” to others. So what he had pushed his points through is that any settlement to the Naga issue should be workable in Manipur. For Ibobi, “Workable is more important than Honourable.”

We have also seen the incumbent Indian Premier Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement that the Naga issue would be solved during the UPA-II tenure. That means settlement to the Naga issue will be, most probably, before the country’s general election due in 2014. The Premier hasn’t said the Naga issue would be solved before the Nagaland State general election. Anyway, the Honourable Prime Minister must have been more than satisfied that showers of praises from various Naga civil societies and the leaders of the NSCN (IM) started pouring in day by day that he was sincere towards finding the solution to the Naga political issue. In fact, no any other Prime Ministers had so much praises as Dr Singh had.

However, the present 60 Nagaland law makers’ going to Delhi under the banner of the Joint Legislature Forum (JLF) meeting with various Central leaders including the Prime Minister, the leaders of Indian National Congress, BJP, NCP, JD(U) expressing their minds to the Naga political issue is admirable. They also expressed that they were ready to pave way as and when any arrangement to the Naga political issue was arrived at. Many of them kept talking of “Alternative Arrangement or Interim Arrangement” for finding solution to the issue. The only strange thing is such languages have not come so far from the mouths of the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe or for that matter the Honourable Prime Minister.

Most surprisingly, such words like “Interim Arrangement or Alternative Arrangement” are not forthcoming from the collective leaderships of the NSCN (IM) either. We mostly heard about the Honourable Nagaland Chief Minister’s talking of “Alternative Arrangement or Interim Arrangement” to the Naga political issue. But the majority of the Nagaland legislators who tripped to national capital under the banner of JLF could not explain satisfactorily to media persons when the latter asked the former as to why they had to meet Central leaders or whether they had any knowledge of the “Agendas” agreed upon between the “Centre and NSCN (IM).” Their simple reply was: “We don’t know what they were talking. We have only gone to Delhi to say that as and when any settlement is arrived at, we are ready to pave the way.” This reply struck me as to how the 60 Nagaland lawmakers could undertake such a “remarkable journey” under the banner of JLF without having knowledge of what the Centre-NSCN(IM) already have had something that would be, no doubt, the basis for making a road to settlement of the issue. These 60 lawmakers from Nagaland also knew very well that the talks are between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and without the other groups that are also maintaining truce with the Centre over a decade.

What I fail to understand is when the 60 legislators from Nagaland could boldly display a show of unprecedented unison to Central leaders for the cause of the settlement of the Naga political issue, why did they lack courage to influence the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) to come out public of their “Agendas.” And in any case, any settlement—be it Interim or Alternative—cannot be “secret.” It has to be finally made public. It is better to pluck the fruit to eat before it is over ripe. You may not be able to eat at all at last it is over ripe.

We should also know that we are living in a democratic country. Ours is different from the neighbouring China. We have elected representatives from the organized political parties. The majority forms the Government while the others as opposition. We also have pressure groups that play crucial role in democratic nations including ours.

When the Governments fail to function, the citizens will go immobile. But if the pressure groups fail to exert or whip the failed Governments to activate, the citizens will gradually sink. If the Opposition fails to exercise and draw the attention of the pressure groups to work for the general publics, then altogether sinks.

So here come the actions of the so-called pressure groups to exert the Governments through various forms of agitations, strikes, bandhs and even creating chaos, rioting, etc. All these forms are accepted in democratic countries all over the world. The principal purpose of these groups is to see that the Governments act so that the desired results are produced.

In our case, it looks like we are in the boat without sailor. Radar will not help without sailor. We don’t’ see any rescuer nearer either.
Although it is “unique” the Ruling and Opposition law makers coming together under the banner of JLF, their roles are different. The goal may be same but the roles will be different. If their roles are same, there need not be opposition in the State. It will look like a “melodrama,” if this separation of roles is not defined in a democratic country.

The Bottom line:
There are four months to go to the State general elections. Almost all the incumbent legislators in the State are thoroughly confused and they are actually kept in the dark not knowing whether there will be election as scheduled or some kind of “Political Arrangement” as part of the settlement to the ongoing political negotiations between the Centre and the NSCN (IM). This vague political development also created huge confusion in the minds of those potential political leaders ready to fight in the coming State general election, while the masses have started going haywire. At the same time, the electoral process cannot be held up. It has to go on. So, it is largely believed that the Centre may opt for proclaiming the President’s Rule in Nagaland and during that period, they may strike some kind of arrangement to settle the political issue. Then everybody is given opportunity to fight elections. We still hope that the Centre is sincere to see that any settlement they are about to work out should not have negative impact anywhere. The people in the region are also mature enough to pre-empt any defective framework.

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Would the “2011 Naga Independence” be the last to “celebrate?”

By Oken Jeet Sandham Citizens took up arms for certain causes and goals. History has shown us many great freedom fighters who took up arms to liberate from the occupational… Read more »

By Oken Jeet Sandham

Citizens took up arms for certain causes and goals. History has shown us many great freedom fighters who took up arms to liberate from the occupational forces. Great leaders of India like Mahatama Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Jawaharal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, etc. fought vigorously against the British and many of them were put behind the bars for fighting against them (British occupational forces).
All Indians had a common “dream” and that was a “Free India.” Every one of them fought against the British Raj in one way or the other to end the British imperialism in India. After a century of revolutions, struggle, blood shedding, battles and sacrifices, India finally achieved independence on August 15, 1947.

But the country lost many men and women who were filled with undaunted courage and spirit of patriotism. Today, they are known as freedom fighters because they sacrificed their lives for their motherland. There are endless number of men and women other than the above list who daringly fought for India’s freedom.
Similarly many leaders in the region including Bir Tikendrajit, Thangal General, Rani Gaidinliu, Haipo Jodonang, Gopinath Bordoloi, Piyoli Phukan, Phulguri Dhewa, Maniram Dewan, etc. too joined fighting against the British Raj. Many of them were hanged to death for revolting against the British administration, while many had to languish in various jails in India. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru when he became PM of free India ordered Rani Gaidinliu’s release from Tura jail on October 10, 1947.
Unfortunately, the British left this Indian sub-continent without settling many political issues and the Naga issue was one of it. This unresolved Naga political issue has been dragged on and on till today. Talks are going on between the representatives of the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India (GOI), while ceasefires are maintained with other groups—NSCN/GPRN (K), GPRN/NSCN.
In spite of all these issues, the Nagas under the banner of NNC had boldly declared their “Independence” on August 14, 1947. The Naga leaders of the NNC had done this after they failed to convince Indian leaders about the Nagas’s wanting to live as a free Nation. Whether one likes it or not, the decision of NNC leaders at that point of time in declaring the “Naga Independence” on August 14, 1947 became “historic and landmark.” Till today, various Naga groups are observing the “Naga Independence Day” with great pride and honor. And the Government of India or for that matter the State Government of Nagaland has not prevented them so far from observing the “Naga Independence Day” in various Naga places.
One should also respect the understanding of the leaders of the Government of India towards Naga people and truly the country’s democracy has the liberal attitudes towards others.
Wanting freedom is not a crime. There is dignity in fighting for freedom and there is no any other dignified life other than being a freedom fighter. Here we have many leaders who are fighting to liberate from the so-called “Indian occupational forces” and this has been succinctly justified from the pages of history.
Regrettably, those who took up arms to liberate from the so-called “occupational forces” turned their guns against themselves or fraternal groups. They indulged in many activities including extortions, kidnappings, harassments, etc. of their own citizens. Because of all these factors, the spirit of “nationalism” has vanished, besides overground politicians started meshing up the whole issues for their petty and narrow political mileage, compounding the process. Fear psychosis is prevalent and citizens are afraid to speak up the truth. And so long this fear exists, reality cannot be measured.
As far as the current status of the Naga political negotiation is concerned, solution to the extremely complicated Naga issue might come in anytime. The Government of India through its various agencies who are closely or directly involved in the process have already expressed “optimism” that solution to Naga issue could be found by the end of the year (2011). The incumbent interlocutor RS Pandey was, somehow, cautious on any time-bound for the Naga solution.
The Government of India has, however, indicated that to realize this “dream (solution to Naga issue by the end of the year),” the Naga people (read civil societies) needed to do a lot of homework. Regrettably, sharp division in the powerful NSCN led by SS Khaplang has further compounded in the labyrinth of the Naga goal. The good part is the Government of India has tactfully announced that the ceasefire with the undivided NSCN (K) would be applied to the two groups, thus virtually preventing them from clashing each other.
Despite New Delhi’s statement of settling the Naga issue by year end and NSCN (IM) General Secretary Th Muivah’s informing to the media upon their arrival at Dimapur airport on August 13 about the possibility of solution of Naga issue in shortest possible time, there is still confusion in the minds of the people as the contents of the talks are still kept in the “dark.” Of course, New Delhi said the other groups in ceasefires would be incorporated while State Government of Nagaland would also be fully in picture before striking into any final deal.

It seems things are still not really clear, though Naga leaders today appear to be “tolerant enough.” It’s a sign of maturity indeed as they cannot take any decision without seeing pros and cons, because the issue is seriously interlinked with many complicated issues.

If the words of the leaders of the Government of India are taken into account, would the “2011 Naga Independence Day” be the last of Naga people to “celebrate?”

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“The Center to take decision this week on post Khaplang impeachment development”: Maj Gen Kochekkan

By Oken Jeet Sandham KOHIMA, Jul 27 (NEPS): The Government of India has been seriously working by consulting various agencies to take a “decision” on the “latest development” that has… Read more »

By Oken Jeet Sandham

KOHIMA, Jul 27 (NEPS): The Government of India has been seriously working by consulting various agencies to take a “decision” on the “latest development” that has arisen out of the impeachment of SS Khalpang, Chairman of NSCN (Khaplang) and subsequent expulsion of N Kitovi Zhimomi and others from the organization, Maj Gen (Retd) Eppen Jacob Kochekkan, Chairman of the Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) told NEPS here on July 27.
While denying that the Government of India remained silent on the recent unwanted development following the impeachment of Khaplang from the group, the CFMG Chairman said, “The Government of India needs some time to study that development and do consultation process before taking any decision.”
“And till such time the Government of India takes a decision, the status quo must be maintained,” he said. “That means whatever arrangements were there with the undivided NSCN (K) will continue to be followed.”
He said, “Hopefully, the Government of India will take a decision within this week and convey the same to the groups.”
Asked whether the Government of India had finalized with which group the ceasefire would be maintained, Maj Gen Kochekkan said it was for the Government of India to take decision.
He also said arrangement of escorts for N Kitovi Zhimomi as General Secretary of the undivided NSCN (K) would continue as and when such arrangement was sought and also those ID Card holders would enjoy the same. “This status quo must be maintained till such time the Government of India takes a decision,” he said.
He also clarified that when Kitovi went to Mon after Khaplang was impeached on July 7 and before his expulsion that came on July 12. So between these periods, he sought escorts and they were provided to him, the CFMG Chairman explained. “His movement to Mon took place before 12 July and after 7 July,” he added.
Maj Gen Kochekkan said that he was keeping in touch with leaders of both groups and told them that “Under any circumstances, peace should not be disturbed. Because people want peace and they deserve it.”
Stating that his main job as Chairman of CFMG was to help and strengthen the “peace process,” Maj Gen Kochekkan said his greatest happiness would come in his life “when the people celebrate peace.”

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Dr Shurhozelie shrugs off Dr Jamir’s self eulogy; NPF confident of winning by-election

By Oken Jeet Sandham KOHIMA, Apr 9 (NEPS): President of the ruling major Naga People’s Front (NPF) Dr Shurhozelie hinted that upcoming by-election in the 26 Aonglenden Assembly Constituency, where… Read more »

By Oken Jeet Sandham

KOHIMA, Apr 9 (NEPS): President of the ruling major Naga People’s Front (NPF) Dr Shurhozelie hinted that upcoming by-election in the 26 Aonglenden Assembly Constituency, where former Nagaland Chief Minister and ex-Goa and Maharashtra Governor Dr SC Jamir would be fighting as Congress candidate, would be a “tough one.” He, however, expressed confidence that their NPF candidate Toshipokba would emerge victorious if the people of the constituency “take a wise judgment.”

In an interview to NEPS here on Saturday, the NPF supremo had simply shrugged off Dr SC Jamir’s self eulogy of his past, saying that “self praise” had no meaning and according to their culture, “self praise is something not to be appreciated.”

While addressing at Ungma Village after his candidature was officially declared, Dr Jamir said he was not contesting for Chief Minister as he worked for five times as Chief Minister and also not contesting for Governor as he worked two terms as Governor. “I am contesting for you (the people),” he (Dr Jamir) said.

Dr Shurhozelie said they all knew how he (Dr Jamir) ruled Nagaland for more than 10 years as Chief Minister and as Governor of Goa and Maharashtra and also knew how he left Maharashtra “Raj Bhavan.”
Reacting to Dr Jamir’s statement that his re-entry to state politics as a mission and to redeem the plight of Nagas who plunged in a state of confusion, the NPF chief said he would not comment much on it because “I leave to the people to judge.” “As I said he (Dr Jamir) was in power for more than 10 years and it is not difficult to form an opinion to judge the differences between the situation of his regime and the present one,” he stated.
Therefore it was for the people of the 26 Aonglenden Assembly Constituency to make a wise judgment, he said asking, “Will it be good for health to eat overripe fruit?”
“I do not want to go into details,” he said. “God willing, we (NPF) will get it (26 Aonglenden Assembly Seat).”

NPF chief also said some politicians could say anything without hesitation and even without taking into account what they said and did something differently. But they never checked whether their actions would tally what they said.

Stating that they could also come out with many facts of the past, Dr Shurhozelie pointed out that by doing so they gained nothing. “As such for us, we are keeping quiet for far,” he said. “For him (Dr Jamir) also should not harp too much on the past.” If he has a mission, he should spell out what type of mission he was talking about, the NPF chief asked.
Dr Shurhozelie also reiterated that their central plank of the coming crucial by-election in 26 Aonglenden would be “Naga political solution.”
Stating that Naga political solution was always placed at top of their agenda, the NPF chief said, “We have been working sincerely and have not failed any groups and have been facilitating the ongoing peace process.”
Asked if he expected any poll related violence in the ensuing by-election, without mentioning the Congress name, he said they never knew with these people what would happen. “We will be urging the administration to take coordinated effort to make sure that free and fair election is conducted in 26
Aonglenden Assembly Constituency,” he disclosed.

When asked his reaction to some Congress leaders’ questioning the validity of DAN as no more MLAs from other parties were there, Dr Shurhozelie rubbished as “none of their business.” He said those DAN constituents might not have MLAs, yet they were still going on together and would continue to go together. “Whether we call DAN or not, it has got nothing to do with the Constitution of India,” he said. “It is our own arrangement.”

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When the “Jet Fighter” President comes in Nagaland!

By Oken Jeet Sandham: The visit of Nagaland by any Presidents is history. The people of Nagaland would be happier to welcome such country’s head in their own soil. Such… Read more »

By Oken Jeet Sandham: The visit of Nagaland by any Presidents is history. The people of Nagaland would be happier to welcome such country’s head in their own soil. Such occasion would be Nagas’ “pride and joy.” The memory is still fresh and it will remain so in the minds of the Naga people of the inauguration of the Nagaland Statehood as the 16th State of the Union of India by none other than the 2nd President of the Republic India, Dr S Radhakrishnan, on December 1, 1963 here at the famous Kohima Football Ground. The arduous journey of Nagaland began from this momentous chapter.

When the news of the President Pratibha Patil’s visiting to Nagaland came in, waves of enthusiasms of welcoming her are felt; all the more so because she is the first Indian woman to have occupied the highest constitutional position of the country.

Patil entered into active politics at an early age and at the age of 27, she successfully contested her first election to the Maharashtra State legislature from the Jalgoan Assembly constituency. She served as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from 1985 to 1990 and later elected as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha in the 1991 General Elections from the Amravati constituency, Maharashtra. In fact, she enjoyed the unique distinction of not having lost a single election that she contested.

She held various Ministerial portfolios in Maharashtra and also once President of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee from 1988 to 1990. Prior to her election as the 12th President of the country, Patil served as a Governor of Rajasthan.

Her predecessor Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was a typical, yet a practical man. He was people’s President and accessible by many wherever he toured. His visit to Nagaland on 26th October, 2002 soon after his assuming office of President was a “memorable one.”

Dr Kalam first landed in Tuensang and then came to Kohima by chopper to attend civic reception at Khuzama Public Ground. Before addressing the massive crowd at the Khuzama Public Ground, he met Khuzama Village Council members.

Soon after the civic reception program was over, the missile man walked down the rostrum and chose to walk through the milling crowd, avoiding the VVIP car waiting for him in front of the rostrum, to interact with the school children eagerly waiting for him across the road at their small school compound.

I was with him while he was interacting with the school children at Khuzama and he really ignited the minds of them to become powerful leaders and great scientists of the country and make India a developed and powerful nation in the world. He was a role model to many young Naga students who had freely and frankly interacted with him sitting as close as two feet away from him. He was unassuming and was generally loved by the people of the country in general and children and students in particular.

I am deeply touched when he recalled about his memorable visit to Nagaland in one of his speeches after completing his eventful years in Rashtrapati Bhavan. He said, “It was a unique experience for me at Khuzama village to meet tribal village council members and discuss with them the village progress and the dream of the village citizens. I was very happy to see the empowered village council functioning with financial powers and taking decisions. I saw a prosperous village with fruits and vegetables production. However, there is a need for providing physical connectivity in Nagaland through quality roads for enabling faster movement of products from villages to the market. That meeting gave me a powerful message about the transformation which can take place to the 600,000 villages of India, if all the villages are empowered to deal with the development and are well connected among themselves and with the urban societies.”

I still have a fair question as to whether we can have such a President today who is practical and sincere to the citizens of the country.

On the contrary, President Patil’s coming to Nagaland happens to be much after her assuming office of President on July 25, 2007. She is the 12th President of India and also the first woman to have been elected to this august office. Her coming to Nagaland would, however, bring a lot hope and aspirations to the Nagas.

Our country has 28 States and 7 Union Territories including Delhi. So if the President of the country fails to visit any of the States during their 5-year tenure, it will make no sense. Mostly those States lying in extreme corners of northeastern region bordering China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh cannot see their President coming to their States at least once in their 5-year tenure, there is every possibility for them to feel isolated or neglected. And also the President being a Supreme Commander of the country’s Armed Forces should instead visit this part of the country not as ritual but as often as possible for the fact that there has been increasing threats towards India from the neighboring China. Over the years, China has been seen as overtly aggressive against India and they even claimed Arunachal Pradesh as part of their territory. There has been a feeling that the Center has not done enough to counter such design by its counterpart. In such a situation, the President’s visit in the region will restore the confidence of the fast erosion of nationalism character.

President Patil’s visit to Nagaland has come at a time when the State is relatively peaceful due to the ongoing political negotiations between the representatives of the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and reconciliation initiatives of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) and other agencies as well. The NSCN (K) is also in truce with the Government of India and they are yet to start political negotiation with the latter.

Just a few months back, the State was also privileged to have country’s Vice President Dr M Hamid Ansari and his lady wife Salma Ansari. The Vice President came to grace for the First World Bamboo Day at Heritage Village, Kisama.

Our visiting President will have a massive “civic reception” at the same venue. As per the initial report came in media, she was to first visit Tuensang before coming to Kohima. It now stands for only Kohima due to time constraints and her heavy schedule as reported and also the state Chief Secretary clarified that, “There was no mention that the President would likely to visit any other place or village outside Kohima.” Vice President Dr Ansari, while at Kohima, too was supposed to visit Tuensang after his program at Kisama but failed to make it because of the inclement weather and finally decided to visit Kigwema.

It is, however, regrettable that the President would reportedly have 20 minutes for interaction with many NGOs, civil society leaders, etc. on March 10 before proceeding to attend the “civic reception” at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama. But I wonder what productive message she would carry back to Delhi if she does not give sufficient time to leaders of various tribal organizations and civil societies. Instead she should put more emphasis on such so-called rarest interactions with these leaders as she would only be able to hear the genuine voices of the people from them who have been experiencing a new lease of life over the year following relative peace prevailing in their State. There has been drastic reduction of factional related violence in the State over the years and this development itself is a major step forward towards building a strong platform where people from all walks of life would ultimately come for free and frank discussions without any fear.

Here I only remember what Dr Radhakrishnan said while inaugurating the Nagaland statehood that, “The administrators must examine the human, the healing touch in their relations with the people and should not deprive the Naga of their innocent joys, their songs and dances, their feasts and festivals, which are not repugnant to our moral sense.”

Nevertheless, I will always salute “Her Excellency” for her courage for personally flying a fighter jet, the Russian-designed Su-30 MKI at the Lohegoan airbase in Pune on November 25, 2009 at her respectable age of 74. Of course, her predecessor as the President of India, then 74-year-old Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, also flew a Su-30 MKI in 2006 during his tenure in office. Yet I don’t take it a strange though, because he is a “man.”

Dr Radhakrishnan also said, “Nothing can stem the tide of progress of India if 450 million people are determined to achieve it by hard work, discipline and determination.”

Today we have a President who could fly “fighter jet” and with this big heart and strong mind, there is hope that she would surely do something for the people who want to live in peace once and for all. It is now over one billion people after 48 years of Nagaland statehood. One wonders if Dr Radhakrishnan’s vision will ever remain elusive or find its destination.

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Baba Ramdev’s Yoga and visit to Nagaland unique

By Oken Jeet Sandham Baba Ramdev Maharaj, internationally famed Yoga Guru, has done remarkable job by personally visiting Nagaland state to impart his rare “Yoga classes” to the Naga people…. Read more »

By Oken Jeet Sandham

Baba Ramdev Maharaj, internationally famed Yoga Guru, has done remarkable job by personally visiting Nagaland state to impart his rare “Yoga classes” to the Naga people. He has done this at State’s commercial hub, Dimapur and Capital, Kohima. Participants of his “Yoga classes” included VVIPs, Press personnel and ordinary citizens. Such rare opportunity has also come to the people of the State with free of charges and the only thing is they should have “Entry Pass” which, according to the organizers, is only for security reasons, as the “Yoga Guru”— due to his world-wide fame— has Z-Plus security cover.

Another great step the great Yoga Guru has done is his visiting to the Kohima Village where he is attending Model Village Program. His visit to this one of the greatest villages in Asia would surely show a very positive message to the rest of Naga people who are Christian. In fact, Nagaland is considered as a Christian State having over 90% Christian population. His visit to Kohima Village itself will make an indelible mark in the history of India in general and Nagaland in particular. He has plainly and sincerely shown that his coming to Nagaland is a message of universal brotherhood and nothing to do with religion, caste and creed. One of his main crusades is also fighting against “corruption.”

Here in the Northeast many consider that Sadhus and Gurus from mainland India are only to preach Hinduism and they could not bring any changes and understandings with the people in the region. Many also thought their wisdoms are not matched with that of regions’. Also many Indian Yoga gurus were not prepared to visit this part of the country in the past. Baba Ramdev’s extensive tours in the Northeast and Nagaland in particular have rather surprised many and this would really bring changes in the thinking of the people who are more gullible, simple and straightforward. Once the true message of life and the benefit of such “Yoga” are given to them, it will be there with them forever and even generations to come. We need many Baba Ramdevs to visit Nagaland and hope Baba Ramdev would visit Nagaland again in near future and stay here for at least few days.

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