The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Journey to Nagaland', by Mildred Archer. An account of six months spent in the Naga Hills in 1947

caption: Naga reactions to news of impending Indian independence
medium: diaries
person: Mayang Nokcha
ethnicgroup: AngamiKachaAoLhota
date: 18.7.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: When the news of Indian independence broke, it seems that the general Naga reaction was one of consternation. 'Why are the British leaving?' many Nagas asked. 'Are they afraid? They defeated the Japs. The Hindus are mere women. Why are the British not driving them away?' This was followed by a sense of frustration and dismay. 'Under the British we were free and happy. What have we done that they should leave us? During the war we gave no trouble. We helped them all we could. Why are they deserting their friends? We will never listen to an Indian raj.'
text: It was in this atmosphere, Mayang tells me, that the first meetings of the Naga National Council, the N.N.C., were held. Yet even from the start differences appeared. On the Kohima side of the district, the Angamis and Kacha Nagas began to dream of a fully independent Naga Hills. 'Until the British conquered us, we ruled ourselves. We were never under the Assamese. Why should an Assam Raj be foisted on us now? During the war we saw the plainsman. We know his tricks. We will never be safe without a Naga Raj.' (11)
text: But on the Mokokchung side, the Aos and Lhotas were much less hostile. The Japanese were halted on their boundaries. They have experienced no Indian exploitation, while a few, who were educated in Jorhat and Shillong had even imbibed some Congress ideas. Moreover at the back of their minds was the vague fear that Independence would mean in practice not a Naga Raj but an Angami one. They saw themselves weakened by Christianity, no longer militant in outlook, and opposed by a vigorous thrusting tribe which was still proud of its warriors' traditions and was only recently weaned from head-taking. Even at the start, therefore, the Mokokchung members began to favour autonomy with Assam, while the Kohima Nagas demanded nothing short of a completely independent state.