Nagaland pays tribute to Phizo son - Thousands attend funeral, rio showers praise

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 29.04.13
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Kohima, April 28: Thousands of people, led by chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Nagaland Assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo, paid tribute to former Naga rebel leader Kevilevor Phizo, who passed away on April 12 in London after suffering a cardiac arrest.

He was a member of the Naga National Council (NNC).

Braving inclement weather, people gathered at Angami Baptist Mission Centre, the church in which Kevilevor was a member, to pay their last respects. Those present included former Speaker and present minister for social welfare Kiyanielie Peseyie, president of Naga People’s Council Shurhozelie Liezietsu, president of NNC-Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) Veyielie Metha and his colleagues and representatives from various Naga organisations.

Chief minister Rio conveyed his condolences to the family members of Kevilevor through the funeral committee. He said the former NNC central executive council me-mber was the main pillar and strength of the council and the Naga political movement.

Rio said Kevilevor lived a selfless life dedicated to the cause of the Naga people, adding that he had even discussed about the Naga political issue with the former NNC member in 2011 when they met in London.

Kevilevor was the eldest son among the 11 children of A.Z. Phizo. The only surviving signatory of 1975 Shillong Accord, I. Temjen, who spoke at the funeral, reflected on his association with Kevilevor and described his former comrade as a brave Naga who had stood firm on the principle of Naga nationalism throughout his lifetime. He said the NNC has lost a great leader and a statesman.

Adinno Phizo, president of the NNC and elder sister of Kevilevor, said she is returning home after 50 years in London. “I would like to acknowledge publicly the role that my brother has played for the Nagas. His love, dedication and unflinching loyalty to the Nagas will always be remembered,” she said during her short tribute to her brother.

She said over the years her bachelor brother had worked tirelessly as a central executive member of the group and was the man behind the functioning of the council abroad. “I am personally very grateful to him for all the help and support he has given me and to the office of the president of the NNC,” she said.

“I take this opportunity to salute him and all those Naga patriots who have served the Naga nation in various capacities and forms,” Adinno said. She also thanked the people for according a warm welcome to her and her brother.

Niketu Iralu, a peace broker who spoke on behalf of the family members, also thanked the people for their warm reception.

President of Angami Public Organisation Neingunyii Sekhose also spoke during the programme. Another senior NNC member, B. Pashen, recalled the contributions of the former leader.

The remains of Kevilevor were later taken to his native village Khonoma for burial.

Kevilevor was born on February 20, 1939, in erstwhile Rangoon, Burma.

He did his BA (Honours) in political science from St Anthony’s College, Shillong, and MBA in International law from the UK. He went to London on May 10, 1966. Apart from being a member of the NNC, he was also the executive director of a chain of malls and a senior business consultant and an associate in the London School of Business.

Family members said from 1956 to 2013, the council office at London functioned with contributions from people in Nagaland and through the efforts of Kevilevor.

With the death of her brother, Adinno is unlikely to return to London and it was the wish of the government and her people that she should be in Nagaland. She is also likely to retire to pave the way for others to lead the council.

Adinno has been the president of the council for the past 22 years while her father Phizo was the president for 40 years.