【Guwahati】Protests from tribal organisations made the BJP in Christian majority Nagaland opt for a 'lesser' river instead of the Doyang to immerse the ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on August 24.
The Doyang is Nagaland's longest and biggest river flowing from Japfu, the State's second highest peak, and flows northward through Kohima, Zuhneboto and Wokha districts. The former Prime Minister's ashes were to be immersed in Wokha district dominated by the Lotha Nagas.
On Sunday, the Lotha Hoho – apex body of the Lothas – said the BJP could perform the ritual "alien to Naga culture and religious belief" anywhere in Nagaland except the Wokha area. It also asked the BJP to refrain from going against local sentiments.
The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) on Friday said the immersion of Vajpayee's ashes in a river in the State was an insult to "our way of life", as well as to the memory of the former Prime Minister.
The Nagaland Joint Christian Forum too said they were deeply concerned about the issue of immersion of Vajpayee's ashes. "We are not against any homage or practice of the party but to insist on carrying out the religious rite and culture of a certain religion which BJP keenly affiliates itself to, is suspect," forum's vice president N. Paphino said in a statement.
BJP's Nagaland unit chief Temjen Imna Along Longkumer said the immersion was performed quietly in an unnamed river in Dimapur district without hurting the sentiments of anyone. Protests outside the BJP's office in Dimapur, the State's commercial hub, in the morning necessitated the change of plan. A BJP leader said the immersion was done in one of the smaller rivers beyond the municipal limits of Dimapur. The BJP workers, Mr. Longkumer said, were asked to gather at the Dimapur party office at 9 am. The protesters started gathering in the area by 8 am, making it clear the immersion would not be allowed to take place within the town. "This [protest] should not have happened. Atalji 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 said. He cited the example of Mizoram, another Christian majority State, where Vajpayee's ashes were immersed in the Tlawng river on Friday without any opposition. Representatives of the ruling Congress, other regional parties and civil society groups in Mizoram took part in the immersion ceremony that followed a funeral with Christian honour for the former Prime Minister
○BJP to immerse ashes of Vajpayee in Nagaland's Doyang river despite opposition
【Guwahati】The Nagaland unit of the BJP, facing criticism for imposing an "alien" culture on a Christian-majority State, has decided to immerse the ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Doyang river on Monday. The decision was taken at a party meeting on Saturday.
“I will immerse the ashes in Doyang river on Monday. We are not following any rituals. We are just paying our respects to the departed leader," Nagaland BJP president Temjen Imna A. Longkumer said.
The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) had, on Friday, said the immersion of Vajpayee's ashes in a river in the State was an insult to "our way of life", as well as to the memory of the former Prime Minister. In a statement, the NPCC said the BJP and its Nagaland unit had turned the immersion of ashes into a "circus" for petty political gains. "Having consigned Vajpayee into political oblivion after the 2004 election defeat and rendering his political thoughts and actions irrelevant through divisive agenda and hate politics, the BJP's sudden affection for the former PM after his demise is just a ploy to extract some cheap political mileage," it 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."
Reacting to this, Mr. Longkumer said, "The Congress is doing its job, we are doing our duty." He had brought an urn containing Vajpayee's ashes from New Delhi on Thursday.
○Atal Bihari Vajpayee, an understanding friend of the Nagas
【Guwahati】Six Prime Ministers have visited Nagaland. But none of them, including Narendra Modi, has found as much space in the heart of the Nagas as Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
It was not just because Vajpayee was the first Prime Minister to recognise the "unique history of the Nagas" and provide a development package. His choice of words at a public reception in the State capital Kohima on October 28, 2003, endeared him to the people who — because of years of separatism — had never thought highly of "Indian" leaders.
His opening line in Nagamese, the State's lingua franca, translated into: "My dear brothers and sisters, I am very happy to be in your midst on the soil of Nagaland." "For too long, this fair land has been scarred and seared by violence ... My government has been doing everything possible to stop this bloodshed, so that we can together inaugurate a new era of peace, development and prosperity in Nagaland," he said.
After protests, Vajpayee’s ashes immersed in Nagaland's ‘unnamed river’
Immersion of Vajpayee ashes: BJP criticised for imposing ‘alien culture’ on Nagaland
BJP to immerse ashes of Vajpayee in Nagaland's Doyang river despite opposition
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, an understanding friend of the Nagas
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