First Indo-Naga War
24th March 1955
( An excerpt from the Huker Village Students Archive)
A Brief History of Yimchungrus’ Contribution to the naga nationalist movement with special reference to the first Indo-Naga War :
From the very inception of the Naga war of independence, the essence was the presence of a single motivating force that resulted from the pains and humiliations which every family of the Nagas had endured either explicitly or implicitly. Thus, the fight was genuine and spontaneous in itself, being necessitated by a common aspiration – irrespective of difference. With a varied capacity of strength and under different circumstances, each Naga tribe had contributed bulk towards the needs of the hour coinciding with an un-yielded upraising for the Naga sovereignty. They stood abreast against the mighty Indians all through the stages of ordeals. In a traditional rustic society where people were naive and unaware about the world around them and when they had only the machetes, spears, shields made of animals’ hides and traditional bows and arrows, as their weaponry, how could they even think of combating against the Indian army who were well equipped with all modern sophisticated weapons? Even those hand-full of arms and ammunition the Naga combaters used were procured only after having killed the latter during stiff confrontations. Moreover, most of the guerillas’ techniques they employed during the battle too were a creation of necessity of times and situations. This does not mean that the using of such technique before the advent of the Indian army were to be fully ruled out but it only meant to say that the forces of the adversaries in the form of belligerent Villages during the head hunting stages were relatively very negligible in contrast with the ever augmenting strength of a sudden outburst entry of the mighty Indian forces, propelling the Nagas to, out of a sudden, adopt different new guerillas techniques and in much more bigger ways for a symmetry fights. Had the Nagas been divided into pockets of self-centered segments, cent percent of its population might had been gyrated to the lowest level in the hands of the adversaries. Thus, it may be unambiguously inferred that, unifying all segments of the Nagas under a common platform was the secret of success in defending the Nagas’ soil throughout these long years of stiff ordeals.
With the ensued revolutionary outbreak spurted all over Nagaland, the strategy of the India army was to interestingly launch habitual attack against the Nagas was a terrible failure. In due course of time, with the spirit of nationalism running through the veins of every genuine Naga, the movement gained much momentum. The movement became bigger and popular beyond comprehension of the adversaries. In that face of stiff resistance, the Indian army, for a wider coverage, had to scatter to every nook and corner of Nagaland only to consequently diminish their virtual strength, making themselves an easy prey to the Naga nationalists. Had the attention of the Indian Army not been distracted through the unity of the entire Naga, their strength must have increased to the maximum, directly contributing to easy annihilation of the Naga populace. It was the wall of unity that necessitated the Indian army to scatter hither and thither that accidentally minimized their strength to the advantage of the Naga Nationalists.
The Yimchungrüs salute and honor the Naga brethrens who sacrificed their lives and comforts for the sake of the younger generations to come. We acknowledge the contribution of each individual and communities who had extended everything towards keeping the common Hope and Aspiration alive which eventually ushered in the concept of the Naga Sovereignty.
No Naga, whether over ground or underground, would ever think to sell out the rights of self-determination thereby effacing the priceless legacy of our political aspirations which was earned through spilling blood of thousands and unforgettable experience-like nightmares. However to propagate the idea and ideal of self-determination and political aspiration, a Nation is a must wherein the people are the indispensable components and in the absence of which the end is meaningless. Some of our leaders had exactly contemplated on the priorities of time and decided to redeem the mass from complete annihilation from the devouring hands of the Indian army upon whom (Survival) and their posterities the political ideology could be planted. Unfortunately, in the fits of redeeming their near and dear ones thousands of determined warriors had lost their lives. Therefore, once again, it can be undoubtedly concluded that upon the blood of the warriors who shed their blood for the Naga nationalist movement rests the foundation of the goal of common aspiration.
This write up is not intended to be glutted with the salvo of hostile and antagonistic attitude towards any person, organizations or the Government of India. Unbiased history is a must for every nation; hence, a mere account of what is believed to be the truest panoramic view in retrospection of the genesis of the Naga Nationalist Movement.
Brief Background prior to 24th March 1955
Prior to 24th March 1955, the people of Yimchungrüs were one of peace prosperity, comforts, abundance and naive. Each village was sovereign in their own capacity. The people were obsessed with routine works of attending their respective fields, and of attending their friends’ fields on roster basis. Harvesting more grains were their foremost endeavor to declare themselves rich. And in a fit to declare their riches to all, they hosted the feast of merit from time to time. In this case, the whole stretch of land was full of merry-making with the hosting of the feast of merit.
Head-hunting practices were still rampant till the early part of 1970’s. The people were so keen in procuring the heads and limbs of their enemies so that they may be accorded the honorary status as heroes and warriors in the social circle. For which, until and unless a peace treaty was adopted, each village considered the other as their enemy and did not hesitate to kill one another when opportunity came. The members of the belligerent villages, intruders, unsolicited visitors and the passer-by were killed with much pleasure.
The whole sphere of lives was governed by the rules of customs and traditions. People were superstitious and rustic. They were skeptical about anything which was outside the purview of customary and traditional considerations. Hence, in the world of stiffest attachment to customs and traditions there was no place for the Nagas of those days to do something on a mere appeal. Everything was based upon the best reason and precedence. The sight of foreign expeditors and writers wearing nice clothes and shoes with a thing unknown to them; probably a musket, pen and papers, was indeed a marvel for them. Furthermore, the entry of the Indian laborers coming for roads alignments in such parts of the land perplexed them even more. There are instances when those presumably intruders were chased away and a bamboo fence were laid all through the entrance of the Village to avoid entry of animals/intruders as a measure to protect from crops damages and other dangers.
Under these circumstances; to know the idea of ‘sovereignty’ – freedom from foreign rule; emancipation from dictatorial law enforced by India was far beyond the horizon and comprehension of the Yimchungrus. With the entry of A.Z. Phizo into the virgin land of the Yimchungrus, the concept of Freedom and Sovereignty were dimly echoed: so people perceived them as nothing more than strange and enigmatic words. However, the entry of A Z Phizo into the Yimchungru land had tremendously changed the mind-set, day-to-day activities and mode of living of the people so completely and instantly.
First Indo-Naga (First bloodshed) War At Huker village and its Ramifications.
Like most of the history of the world around, the history of Naga Nationalist Movement too had a sour beginning characterized by failures, humiliations and suffering in the struggle against the Indian de facto rule. Sometimes, the leaders of those days might have gone astray and felt frustrated. They might have worked with suspense mind while unambiguously trying to determine as to the fact, reasons, strategy and scope, of which most of them had to be slaved through analyzing the pros and cons and answering the questions of ‘where’ and ‘how’
With the formation of the Naga National Council (NNC), by A.Z. Phizo, the then president of the NNC, and his followers systematically propagated that Nagaland was never a part of India and that it was an independent territory between India and Burma. He further asserted that soon after the withdrawal of the British from India. The Nagas shall ipso facto become an Independent Country. To substantiate the solidarity of the Nagas, AZ Phizo organized a plebiscite on 16 th may 1951 and came to the conclusion that 99 per cent of the people had voted for an Independent Naga Country (It is to be noted that as per the reliable sources, in the first place, the plebiscite covered only Kohima and Mokokchung Districts. The Tuensang Area, which was not a part of then Naga Hills District was left untouched/included). With the failure to gain independence through constitutional means the Naga extremists then resorted to civil disobedience movement. Payment of house tax was refused, official functions were boycotted, and some village headmen returned their red blankets as a token of resignation. When such efforts were again a failure, the leaders of the NNC became frustrated who in turn resorted to armed rebellion in the Hills.
In this way, the spirit of revolutionary movement began to raise it head in most parts of the Naga Hills District such as Mokokchung and Kohima. However, the impediment was that, the aforementioned Districts were under the direct administration of Sibsagar District of Assam. Besides, the NNC representing only partial of the Nagas was not recognized by the Government of India. It was towards the end of 1954, in order to substantiate the cause and strengthened the movement, A.Z. Phizo, was compelled to venture into the soil of Tuensang Frontier Division (which was then considered as an ‘Un-administered Area or ‘Free Area’). This relentless venture had ultimately sowed the seeds of the Nationalist spirit in the minds of the people of Tuensang area in September 1954. Shri A.Z. Phizo announced the formation of the Hongking Government (People’s Sovereign Republic of Free Nagaland, and the same was later on substituted y Naga Central Government on 22 March 1956)
Several rounds of meetings were held at various places in Tuensang Area; prominent Yimchungru villages among them were the Huker, Shipwongrü, Shamator. However, the most remarkable summit was held at Kekruma Village under Kohima District on 18th of February 1955. “The war against the Indian for Nagas’ Sovereignty” was declared for the first time in this summit nevertheless, there was lot of commotion among the mammoth gathering towards the questions pertaining to the execution of the proposed action. Somebody should initiate. Somebody should sacrifice; somebody should raise voice in the instant meeting showing a daring interest to shed the first Blood for Naga Independence cause. Everybody in the meeting seemed to be glancing at Angh P HopongYimchungrü anticipating for unsealing his courageous mouth and the congregation simultaneously whispering the name of M Lakhum Yimchungrü (War Lord) was also audible. In the meeting many relevant questions for want of answers from the congregation were tabled; the question being 1. Which particular village would first shed the blood of the Indian army shall be considered the first blood shed ranking in the Nagas struggle for freedom? 2. Who shall lead the armed Nagas in the execution of the said action? 3. What shall be the reward and status to be accorded to such village, tribes or person who may shed the blood on behalf of the Nagas? After hectic deliberation over the questions, War Lord M. LakhumYimchungru of Tsashir village was unanimously voted the competent person as War leader. He was exposed with the arduous assignment to lead the armed Nagas for the first time in the history of the Naga Nationalist Movement. The Yimchungrüs did not have a single gun nor ammunition then; therefore, Angh P. Hopong Yimchungrü contented to A.Z. Phizo concerning it but the latter only ironically replied that once the war begin the Indian army shall supply to them enough arms and ammunition which perhaps he mean to say “kill the Indian army and take their guns and bullets”.
The resolution of Kekruma village was re-affirmed at Lengnyu Village in Tuensang district on the 11th of August 1954 where various tribal representatives had attended. The result was Angh P. Hopong Yimchungrü, M. Lakhum (War Leader) and Brig. Gen Thsamphu, Collected nearly 300 young and determined warriors from Yimchungrü villages and had a meeting at a place known as Kepiak below Y-awün Village in Tuensang District. After a breath taking meeting, the contingent of warriors was led to Huker village for killing the Indian army. Those days, the Indian army stationed at Aghunato had the habit of visiting Huker village frequently with arms and ammunition. On the fateful day of 24 th March 1955 at around 5:00 p.m. a stiff confrontation took place between the Indian army and the Naga army at Huker village. In the confrontation, besides several other reports of casualties, four Indian soldiers were slaughtered by machetes the first person among Naga army to lay hand upon the Indian soldier was Hothrong. Spontaneously, he was assisted by Tomukam, Thsanphu, Zükiumong, Shojimba and Zungkum, In desperate retaliation, the Indian army shot dead four innocent Yimchungrus. The first among the four victims of first war was a student of class 6 by the name Bumbah. The three other victims were Shokheah, Pungji and Khumkiumong.
This incident marked the beginning of an offensive act by the Yimchungru Naga Army towards the cause of the Naga Sovereignty. Hitherto, there seemed to be only a mere defensive role. This incident had boosted the courage of the Nagas to shun from their cowardice in shying away from the tyranny of the Indians. Anticipating the latter’s retaliation, many Yimchungru Naga Army camps and bases were established in numerous villages and jungles of the Yimchungrü land. True to the anticipation, on 8th April 1955, the Indian army posted at Aghunato under the command of Lakhar, A.F.C raided Huker and Aipong villages killing several innocent villagers. Some of the victims were Pongii, Hd. GB, M. Shokheamba, and L. Bumbah. Since then, the Indian army resorted to a series of unabated barbaric operations in almost all the Yimchungrü villages. Even dense forests were not an exception. Most of the villages were burnt down repeatedly as many as twelve times and so forth; killing, torturing, raping, burning of villages, granaries, and destruction of livestock, standing crops and other properties became a regular feature. The entire villages became empty with no standing houses, livestock and no appearance of human beings except the movements of thousand of Indian army personnel, few captivated villager and Yimchungrü Naga army personnel. The volatile situation had necessitated the innocent villagers to flee and hide beneath the dense forest for years together.
There was not a single day passed when the incidence of the Indian atrocities were not heard or reported. Thousands and thousands of innocent people perished due to extreme cold, dehydration, starvation, mental trauma and war related unnatural death during the ordeal. The children were carried on the back with a mere scrap of cloth without food or drinks. The mouth of the toddlers were sealed by the parents’ palms so as to restrain them from crying or shouting lest the Indian army who were chasing and hunting them like wild beast should hear and come and kill them or torture them. Nobody had time to think of or care for others, not even the child being carried. In these extreme hostile operations, the villagers were so cautious about the advance of the Indian army. Everyone underwent mental trauma. They felt the presence of the Indian army in the very blowing of wind, moving and cracking of trees and perhaps in their own voice. The body of the innocent villager/s taking refuge in the dense forest were covered by scars, swells, and bruises caused by unfriendly wild leaves, plants, and flies. Whenever the sentry announced the advance of the Indian army, the villagers hiding in the forest would flee the spot head over heels. The poor hungry villagers had to depend upon the ration of the Indian army, which might mistakenly land within their vicinity while being dropped down from the helicopters/planes meant for the Indian Army personnel. They spend their days and nights obsessed with uncertainties, worse than nightmare. In short, there was no human relationship but that of a ‘hunter-prey’ situation.
To give a befitting reply to the brutal actions of the Indian army, on 6th October 1956, the Yimchungrü Nagas who composed the Naga army wing known as Home Guard Eastern Division established its headquarter at present Longtok Village erstwhile known as Haphu Village, under the ablest and charismatic command of Maj Gen Hothrong Yimchungru. Since then the large-scale battle ensued between the Indian Army and the Naga Army at Longtokru village.
The HQ camp of the Yimchungru Naga Army at Haphu/Longtokru village was fortified and regarded to be the strongest hold of the Naga Army. Several attempts of the Indian army to intrude and destroy it were a terrible failure for nearly six-year long years. (that is, until 26th May 1961). The more the attempt of the Indian Army, the more was their casualty. Thus, in a fit of desperate retaliation, innumerable Indian army divisions scattered to far flung places of Nagaland assembled and concentrated around the vicinity of the Haphu camp so that they might jointly execute the attack and obliterate the Yimchungru Naga Army Camp. The Indian army divisions comprised of the 8th Assam Rifle, 4th Gurkha Rifle, 9th Gurkha Rifle and finally the Rajput Rifle. The Naga army did not give up their solid footing by not allowing the attackers to penetrate into it. The irony was, the more the Naga army showed their guerillas skills the more were a change of tactics from Indian army sides too. However, to the despair of the Indian army, they could not vanquish the Yimchungru Naga Army by any means. It was, therefore, no more appealing for them to employ any more techniques when they seemed to have frequently stood at the failure points of their own strategies. It was the reason why they chose Kuthur village, which is nearly 30-40 kms away from the Haphu camp, as a base to bombard the well fortified Haphu camp with different sophisticated weapons including 10 (ten) numbers of cannons. This kind of inhumane attack had to be faced by the Yimchungrü Naga Nationalist based at the camp. In the instant attack, many innocent public and Nationalists were killed. In the face of such sophisticated weapons the head quarter camp was finally compelled to be partially deserted.
In a thorough evaluation of the battles waged against the Indian army, the nearly six-year war of Haphu may be regarded as the longest battle ever recorded in the history of Naga Freedom Movement. This battle may also be regarded as the most drastic and inhumane one. It was in this battle where the Indian army employed as nearly as ten (10) canons. Nowhere in the history of Naga was there an instance of using such weapons of massive destruction. For a small place (Camp) like Haphu using of such weapons was ridiculous.
In order to mobilize the movement into the mass movement, M. Lakhum toured in the Chakhesang region with nearly fifty of the armed cadre from the Yimchungrü tribe and halted for a night at Phokomi Village. Meanwhile, under the nick name of the “High Command Operation” commanded by Brig. Gen. P. Thsanphu and Brig. Bumbah; Longsa village was visited with a message of sovereignty and brotherhood. At Longsa village and Longkong village a prolonged and protracted confrontation took place with the Indian army. Consequently, right after the battle, these two villages were gutted down to ashes by the Indian army. From there, they entered into the province of the Assam via Amuguri and penetrated up to Mariani, Sorupathar and Bokajan where they waged a battle with the Assamese and the Indian army inside the tea garden. They further proceeded to Wokha, Lakhuti and Sanis and spend there with the Lotha nationalist for quite some time. After they entered the Angami region, the news about the arrest of A.Z. Phizo’s wife and children by the Indian army was reported. In a bid to rescue his captivated wife and children, Brig. Gen. P. Thsamphu asked A.Z. Phizo to allow them to raid the Indian army but the latter did not give a green signal, may be for the best result. Thereafter they left for Hoshepu, Akupama, Khakai, and Tsuthoho where a great confrontation took place. Another great confrontation took place at river Tapu. At Sanakasa, 75 arms and a huge cache of ammunition were captured from the Indian army. Many Naga army personnel also lost their lives during the course of this venture. The same group of Naga army also set out to the Khiamniungan region for spreading the message to far and wide. This group also visited place like Bandhari, Pherima, Sanakusa, Satakha, and Kukheyei. Not only had they traveled to far and wide in the battle but also gave away the arms and ammunition and bags of money that had been recovered or snatched from the Indian army to Aos, Sumis, Sangtams, Changs, Khiamniungans, Konyaks, etc, so that they could also begin effectively with their own standing army.
The enforcement of some of the legislations such as the Assam Disturbed Areas Act 1955, The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Regulation 1958, etc ultimately provided the Indian army with sweeping powers to harm and kill Nagas with complete legal impunity and immunity. Armed and protected by such sweeping legal power, with the outbreak of the First Indo-Naga War at Huker village, the Indian army began to march into the land of Yimchungrüs only to unleash a nightmare which would not be able to be forgotten from generation to generations.
In conclusion, it may be mentioned that prior to 24th march 1955, the people of the Yimchungrü were one of the peace and prosperity from every aspect despite minor confrontation with the British explorers. Due to A.Z. Phizo’s entrance with an idea of Naga Sovereignty and with a word of appeal to redeem the rest of the Nagas, the Yimchungrü Nagas had voluntarily step into the ocean of blood at the cost of thousands of precious lives, and ancillary comforts of live.
During the process of stiff confrontation, many villages were raided and subsequently burnt down to ashes. The following Yimchungru villages were raided and burnt by the Indian Army.
Name of the Village No. of raids/burnt
Ayipung Village 6 times
Huker Village 9 times
Tsasher Village 6 times
Shipwung Village 4 times
Kiutsükiu Village 4 times
Rürüt Village 6 times
Pungrung Village 5 times
Y-Awün Village 3 times
Müleangkiu Village 3 times
Khumungshi Village 3 times
Longtok (Haphu) Village 3 times
Chessor Village 1 time