Wednesday, March the 20th, 1986, will always remain as one of the blackest days in the history of the Naga Students Federation. It may have been twenty years ago, but the events on that day are still very clearly imprinted in the minds of each and every Naga, responsible and old enough to understand the situation. It is also the duty of each one of us(Nagas)to pass on the undying legacy to persons ignorant of the events that unfolded that day. The Angami Students Union, painfully, and at the same time, with pride and with heads held high, recollects the chain of events leading to the martyrdom of Lt. Vikhozo Yhoshu and Lt. Kekuojalie Sachu.
The Naga Students Federation gave the call for Hartal to protest against (1) The introduction of the Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre into Nagaland and (2) over the extension of the Disturbed Area Belt from 5 kilometers along the international border. The hartal was to begin at 6O’clock in the morning and was to last till 6pm. Attendance was thin in the first two or three hours of the hartal. Then at around 9.30am, the Chief Secretary, Mr. I Longkumer came down in his official car, knowing fully well that the NSF had called a hartal from 6am to 6pm. The striking students stopped him near TCP gate and told him that he would not be allowed to proceed further in his car. So he got down and, briefcase in hand began to walk towards his office. But the police picked him up in their jeep and gave him a lift to his office. He later falsely alleged that the student leaders had manhandled him, and that his car was damaged. This directly led to the imposition of 144 CrPC in the TCP gate, MLA Hostel and Razhu Hotel junctions.
A little later after 11am, Colonel Maken and a friend came down in a car. They were also stopped near the TCP gate. Arguments started. And at that time the IGP (BD Malviya) arrived at the spot to “pacify” the quarreling parties but instead got into arguments with the students. Nudges turned into shoves. Suddenly the sound of gunfire startled everyone. The students, all very young, ran helter-skelter. The firing squad, all belonging to the NAP gave chase and began to shoot them down one by one. As soon as the firing started, senior NSF leaders, Vizolie Sorhie and Imkong Imchen rushed to the Chief Minister’s (SC Jamir) office and asked him to stop the firing. The Chief Minister sneeringly said, “I can’t help it”. The firing lasted for around an hour. Neither the Deputy Commissioner, Lima Aier nor the LGP, BD Malviya, who were present at the spot tried to stop the firing. Men of the Assam Rifles, the CRPF, the BSF and even most of the NAP personnel detailed for duty, stood rooted to their places and watched helplessly as one particular squad of NAP fired just as fast as they could reload their firearms.
The firing left Kekuojalie Sachu of Kohima village and Vikhozo Yhoshu of Kigwema village dead. Scores of others were injured in it. We will recount just an instance of police high handedness and brutality. One girl, Vizovonuo Sekhose (16 Yrs then), was hit on the thigh and she fell to the ground. A traffic policeman rushed up to her aid, but a higher ranking officer threatened him away with his service revolver. The officer then stood over the girl and shot her in the back. The bullet, which entered her back, punctured her lungs and got lodged in one rib. Students and students leaders, as young as ten (10) years old and as old as forty six (46) years, were wounded. Vikhozo Yhoshu was fourteen (14) at the time. He was studying in Kohima English School in class VIII (Eight). Kekuojalie Sachu was nineteen (19). He was a pupil of Baptist English School. Forty eight (48) others were admitted to the hospital.
It is also pertinent to note that most of the students who were shot at, and wounded, were shot from behind the back, which amounts to utter violation of moral principles. The police even fired at the ambulances that were to take the wounded to the hospital and also stopped the hospital staff from helping the students. The Naga Hospital requested the South Police Station to send an officer with inquest form to enable the hospital to carry out post mortem on the two deaths. The South Police Station refused. So, to keep the record clean, the Medical Superintendent issued a press statement, saying that no magistrate or police personnel in uniform with injuries reported at the hospital.
Next day, 21st March 1986, a public funeral was held at Kohima Local Ground for Vikhozo and Kekuojalie, where approximately 50,000(fifty thousand) people attended. Various speakers paid rich and flowing tributes to them for their supreme sacrifice. This is a portion of the speech given by Dr. Dietho Yhoshu, on behalf of Vikhozo’s family, at the funeral. “Only yesterday, was our son hunted and killed like a wild beast. According to his friends and witnesses he was brutally shot at, while trying to run away. He tried to rise up but was pushed back to the ground on several occasions by the police. Friends trying to help him up were not allowed to do so. Further, his fingers were crashed as he tried to rise up with the support of his hand. He was left there bleeding, completely helpless. That’s how he met his end at the hands of the armed police empowered to shoot and kill. We are neither ashamed nor intimated by his death. Young and innocent as he was, in his last journey he boldly responded to the clarion call given by his leaders…. Like any other young man, our son Vikhozo had his own ambitions, aspirations and dreams in life. Like any other parent, we all had our hopes and expectations on him. But all these have been vanquished in the twinkling of an eye. Just a bullet from the killer’s gun. Oh No! We grieve and mourn. Nevertheless, God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts…..”
After the funeral service, thousands of people joined in the procession to the burial grounds where they were laid to rest at the present day NSF Martyrs Park. The NSF erected a monument over their graves. A seven day mourning period was observed. As a direct result of the events of that day, eight ministers (3 cabinet and 5 ministers of state) resigned from the Council of Ministers in protest. The cabinet ministers are TA Ngullie, minister for Finance and Taxation, Land Revenue and Power. LK Sema, minister for Agriculture and Horticulture, and DR. H Vizadel Sakhrie, minister for Public Health and Family Welfare. The other ministers of state who resigned were Puse Zhotso, minister for Information and Public Relations, Tourism and Power. HL Singson, minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, Jails and Industries. Nocklem Konyak, minister for Printing and Stationery and Agriculture. Nokzenketba, ministers for Soil Conservation and Art and Culture, and Marchiba, ministers for Fisheries and Public Health Engineering.
It is only befitting that we conclude with the obituary given by Vikhozo Yhoshu’s family in various weeklies that were in circulation that time.
Issued by the ‘Publicity Committee’ of the 7th NSF Martyrs’ Memorial Trophy, 2006