By Karishma Das
galand, the land of enchanting beauty and charm with its rich culture has a special place in our tion of diverse culture. And in those green hills, during the World War II, the ga youths showed their bravery and strength.
But, what followed the World War II in galand changed the entire course of history. The otherwise peaceful galand witnessed the rise of the ga tiol Movement. However, the ga insurgency which is still a headache for the Indian government was not same during the time of Phizo.
Angami Zapu Phizo, who is regarded as the ‘Father of the gas’, is undoubtedly the key figure in filling the hearts of each and every ga with the sense of ga tiolism. Born in 1903 in the small village of Khonoma in Kohima, Phizo hailed from the Angami tribe of gas, which is often regarded as the most advanced tribe of galand.
During that time, the entire sub-continent was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of non-violence. The gas, who were always peace loving people, however encountered fierce battle during the World War II. The gas were engaged to fight against the Japanese army along with British soldiers of Indian origin. It was during this time that the gas realized how different they are from India, socially, culturally and linguistically. Before this, the common gas were not conscious about this.
Meanwhile, Phizo’s appearance in that scerio gave a concrete platform to the feelings of the gas and it was then that the concept of ga tiolism flourished in every nook and corner of galand. Under Phizo, the struggle for ‘independence’ of galand reached a new level. His ideas and strategies greatly influenced the ga people and everyone joined the movement to establish their own identity, the identity of a ga tion. It was a struggle to preserve ga’s uniqueness and preventing the Indian government from occupying them. The real anxiety was the fear that right balance between individual freedom, social and tribal harmony may not be preserved as the larger forces of global economy permeate the ga soil and economic life of the gas.
Phizo was the driving force, a man of great passion with incredible farsightedness. Famous scholar Starcey wrote-“The gas believed in the heart of their hearts, he (Phizo) has brought them where they are today.” ga tiol Council (NNC) was the platform through which Phizo took his ideas to the gas. Initially the NNC was firm believer in non-violence. Phizo with other leaders also submitted a resolution to the British Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946, demanding a separate tionhood for galand. They also signed a nine point agreement with the then Governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hydari in 1947. But with the latter’s death all promises made, went in vain. The non-violence way of NNC continued till 1953, when the then President Rajendra Prasad rejected the gas proposal for independence from India on the ground that their demands are meaningless. Though the ga leaders made several attempts to meet the President to apprise him persolly, Rajendra Prasad denied appointment.
Losing all hopes of a peaceful solution with the Indian government, Phizo decided to take arms. He soon formed the ga Home Guards, a military wing and soon joined itself with the ga Safe Guard, another prominent wing under the commandership of Kaito. What followed is, an era of gun battle with the Indian army and the Assam Rifles.
Though all the gas were united in the fight for a sovereign galand, there were some dissidents too. One such dissident was T Sakhire, who led the moderate faction of NNC. Though a cousin of Phizo, Sakhire engaged himself in talks with the Indian government much to the disappointment of Phizo. Phizo took it as treachery with the interest of the ga tion and killed him. However, Phizo kept denying his involvement throughout his life. But the Indian government issued an arrest warrant against Phizo. The Indian army, realizing the seriousness of the movement, swung into action to curb it.
Phizo decided to control the movement living in exile as the entire Indian force was against him. He fled to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and from there he left to London, with a hope that one day he will return to his free fatherland alive. Though in the later years the NNC signed a pact, the Shillong Accord with the Indian government in 1975, Phizo continued to live in exile. He however continued to control the ga tiol movement, inspiring thousands of youths to join.
Phizo’s death in London in 1990 was a major jolt to the gas. But it also showed, how united the gas are and how much respect they have for the ‘Father of the gas’. Thousands of gas received his body at the Rowriah Airport in Jorhat and took it full honour to galand. The body covered with the NNC flag was kept for public view in the main stadium near the State Assembly, entire galand mourned his death. In his death Phizo won the dignity and honour that was denied to him all his life by the Indian government. The memorial erected in his honour at the junction of Khonoma and Kohima still reminds the gas of his sacrifice and love for his fatherland (Phizo referred to galand as his fatherland).