Nagas felicitates NSCN-IM leader Anthony Shimray

By Vangamla Salle K S New Delhi, 24 August : To commemorate and celebrate the recent release from jail of NSCN-IM activist Anthony Shimray, the Naga Students Union, Delhi (NSUD) organized a felicitation programme at Nagaland House recently.

Shimray was released from Delhi's Tihar Central Jail after six years. He had been placed there on charges of procuring arms and waging war against the State (India). His release has been welcomed as a recognition of the voice of the Naga public through Naga civil societies like the Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers' Association, Naga Students' Federation (NSF), All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM), Naga Students Union Delhi (NSUD), Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) and Naga Churches.

Student leaders see Shimray not only as a political leader, but also as a deeply rooted religious person.

"With his arrest five years ago, we, as a student union and also as Naga Civil Society and NPMHR, we have been constantly supporting him by organising protests or by conducting seminars.

Likewise in many ways, we have been supporting him. And finally, he has been released on bail. So, to some extent, it is a victory and in order to welcome him back to the fold of the Naga community, we organized this event," said Phungshok Khongreiwoshi, President, NSUD.

Naga students in Delhi are hoping that by organizing such event, they will give a bigger room to all Nagas to integrate and to come to a better understanding and unity.

During the event, Nagas in Delhi from all walks of life came and witnessed the most meaningful and fruitful reunion between Shimray and his people.

Delivering a thanksgiving speech, Shimray applauded the sincerity and serious commitment of the Government of India towards the ongoing Indo-Naga peace talks.

"I appreciate the sincerity and the seriousness commitment of the Government of India, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

My release is not my victory but it is the victory of the peace process and the victory of democracy," Shimray said.

When asked about his future plans, Shimray did not reveal much and limited himself to saying that he bore no grudges for his time in prison, and would remain faithful to God and the Naga people.

"To be honest, I have no plans, I have no dreams, and I have no vision. But my mission is that I want to remain faithful to the cause of my people and I want to remain faithful to the vision of God.

I am just a follower and I am not the leader. I want be a faithful follower till the end of my life. And I don't regret anything for undergoing sufferings under trail there in Tihar jail. My sacrifice is for the future of the Naga people and for peace," Shimray said. "This is the future. This is not the NSCN movement. I want to represent myself as a freedom fighter, as a youngster," he added. "I consider Nagas as my friends and I have been following the Naga peace process since it began in 1997.

And I think finally it's leading to solution and I hope that Nagas settlement is done quickly. As far as Anthony Shimray is concerned, he's been a very old friend of mine. I think he should not have been in jail; whatever he did was on the orders of his superiors. If they are innocent then he's innocent, if he's guilty then they are also guilty. This is the position I always had," added Bharat Bhushan, a senior journalist. There is also an opinion that the Government of India might use him to reach out to other outfits of the Northeast region and bring them to the negotiation table.

"Nagas and Indians have missed so many good opportunities but this time we should not miss again because if we miss again, then it will be a catastrophe and we will regret so much.

And the most important is this peace is only about bringing peace in Nagas areas but this peace is for entire Northeast as well as the entire nation.

This peace is also for Southeast Asia because we are the centre. And Naga peace process will certainly send a positive message to all the other different groups. They are all watching closely, monitoring what is the outcome and solution of the Indo-Naga peace process," Shimray said.

Source: ANI