New Delhi, Jan. 9: They apparently came unannounced to pay their respects to the Father of the Nation.
When Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) leaders Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu turned up at the Rajghat VIP gate, officials of the Rajghat Samadhi Committee had to rush to let them in.
All the bustle early in the day at the memorial failed to alert them to the leaders’ impending visit.
NSCN(I-M) chairman Swu laid a wreath and said: “We have great respect for the Father of the Nation. May the Almighty bless his soul.”
Swu was speaking for many other Nagas for they respect Mahatma Gandhi’s views on the vexed issue. They were markedly different from the stand of Jawaharlal Nehru and other Indian leaders of the time.
For the many Naga students who had turned up to catch a glimpse of Swu and Muivah, it turned into an opportunity to pay homage to the man who was sympathetic to their people’s demands.
“We have often heard about Mahatma Gandhi and how his ideas on Nagaland were different from those of other Indian leaders,” said Atiso Francis, an MA student at Delhi University. “But we never bothered to come to Rajghat despite living so near, probably because nobody ever gave us the idea.”
Francis said more of them would have turned up had they come to know well in time about the leaders’ visit.
For Joyson Mazamo, Delhi convenor of Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights, the trip to Rajghat was a continuation of their “Journey of Conscience”.
It is a project that civil society groups undertook after the NSCN(I-M) ceasefire accord with the Centre came into effect five years ago. “The programme was focussed on educating our community on various aspects related to the (Naga) problem. So you will find hardly anybody now who is not aware of Gandhi and Rajghat,” Mazamo said.
In a near replay of the rush at the Indira Gandhi international airport this morning when the leaders had landed from Amsterdam, Rajghat was packed with people more than two hours before Swu and Muivah arrived.
Journalists and photographers, students with unfurled banners welcoming the leaders and urging on the peace process, and children with little blue flags lined up to await Swu and Muivah.
Rajghat bustled with more people than usual as the crowd waited for the NSCN(I-M) leaders. Samadhi Committee secretary Rajnish Kumar appeared to be the only one unaware of the reason.
“We were informed only about half-an-hour in advance. That is why we couldn’t make timely arrangements to receive the leaders,” he said.