In a shocking news coming from Nagaland, the north eastern state of India , the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has laid objections to the immersion of ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a river in the state. The NPCC on Friday claimed that the immersion of the former PM’s ashes was an insult to “our way of life”. Terming the whole immersion routine as a ploy by the BJP and an insult to the Naga way of life, they said, “Nagaland BJP leaders displaying their eagerness to please their communal masters by following and observing rituals that are alien to our way of life is an insult to all right-thinking Nagas.” It is amusing to see how the Congress leaders from the state and NPCC are terming this immersion as an act of imposing an “alien” culture on a Christian majority state. The Bharatiya Janata Party leaders from the state decided to immerse the ashes in some other river and not the Doyang in order to evade controversy.
The Doyang is the longest and the biggest flowing river in Nagaland, as per the earlier schedule the immersion of the former PM’s ashes was to be done in Wokha district from where the Doyang passes. Several Christian groups such as Nagaland Joint Christian Forum had also issued warnings and concern over the immersion of ashes in the Doyang. The Lotha Hoho, which is the topmost body of the Lothas which dominate the Wokha district had also issued a warning, stating customs which are “alien to Naga culture and religious belief” should not be conducted in the Wokha area. To stop the situations getting out of hand, BJP’s Nagaland unit chief Temjen Imna Along Longkumer decided to perform the immersion ritual in another river. According to BJP leaders and workers the immersion was conducted at a small river which runs beyond the municipal limits of Dimapur.
BJP Nagaland unit chief Longkumer said he felt dejected by the protests against the ritual, “This [protest] should not have happened. Atal ji is a national icon and should not be association with any religion. The State BJP’s minority morcha had taken the lead in immersing the ashes. As Christians, we all prayed in the presence of priests”. He also went on to add that he was certain that there was nothing wrong or immoral in what he did and it would not leave a blot on his conscience. He further went on to take the example of Mizoram where despite being a Christian majority state, the people of regional parties and various religious groups had come together to take part in the immersion ceremony followed by a funeral with Christian honour for the former PM Atal Ji.
Instances like these are a blot on the secular fabric of India and the state of Nagaland. The Christian groups operating in the state and the Congress party need to be ashamed for not letting the BJP leaders honour the former PM of the country. It was not as if the Nagaland government had made it mandatory for all the people to attend and take part in the immersion process. Therefore there should have been no cause of concern for anyone both from the Congress or the Christian groups. Vajpayee Ji was a former PM of the whole country and not just of a particular state. The immersion of his ashes in the major rivers across the country is being carried out by BJP leaders with massive support from the citizens of the country. The Nagaland unit of Congress have themselves revealed their narrow mindedness and have exposed that for all their claims of secularism they are hardly accommodating when it comes to respecting other people’s beliefs.