During the World War I (1914–18), the British Government recruited a number of labourers and porters from the Naga tribes. As part of the labor corps, around 2000 Nagas and many more from the North East led by RS Ruichumhao were sent to France, where, alienated from the other British Indian troops, they developed a sense of unity. They agreed that after returning to their homeland, they will work towards unity and friendship among the various Naga tribes. These Nagas under RS Ruichumhao leadership came together with the British officials and formed the Naga Club in 1918. Mr RS Ruichumhai was one of the few who could speak English and translate to fellow Nagas about the ideas of the importance of forming Naga Club. No doubt he was one of the visionary leaders who contributed the ideas of forming the Naga Club his name was excluded in the signing of memorandum with the Simon Commission because his interest turned towards spreading Gospel in Nagalim.
After the World War I the nagas warriors and intellectuals realized the importance of protecting their socio-political identity and realized to live as free Naga nation as their common goals. As a result, the Nagas unanimously decided to form a clubs called the NAGAS Club in 1918 at present capital city of Nagaland called Kohima. In fact, this was the first common organisation of the nagas. No, doubt RS. Ruichumhao influence to many Nagas in some point of time and the pioneers of khonoma Ruffuno contributed more significantly in forming this club. It was formed representative of the Nagas tribes consisting of village kings, elders, intellectuals, educated person, Government servants and the World War I labour crops members who were regarded as war Heroes were presented. This club was form for the protecting Naga identities, self-determination, protecting rights, protecting land and protecting Naga Village sovereign system. This Naga Club has brought all Naga tribes together into a common platform in one point of time.
The main objectives for formation of this club were as under:
- To protect Naga socio-political identity
- To protect Nagalim from foreign occupation
- To make a distinct Naga nationality
- To develop fraternal feelings of various naga tribes in Nagalim
- To decide socio-political need of the Nagas
- To maintain peace and unity among tribal Hoho
Thereby, the formation of Naga Club becomes the turning point of Naga national movement. It becomes the most needed organisation with socio-political movement initiated by the Nagas in the history of Naga National movement. This was the first political organization formed by the Nagas especially by the representatives of different Naga tribes as their parliament. No doubt, this club brought together all Nagas under one roof and push towards to fight for unique Naga history and their National right from foreign illegal occupation, politically speaking. This institution of Naga Club has become a common platform for the Nagas and it had created a sense of belonging amongst Nagas in Nagalim. After this formation the Nagas has stop the warring between village to Village or tribe to tribes, and eventually stop the head-hunting. At the end, Naga club brought Nagas together to fight united for their self-determination, demanding separate nation and become the turning point of Naga national movement. I considered Mr. RS. Ruichumhao as war lord from the Nagalim in the time of World War I….
THE ENCOUNTER OF NAGA CLUB: 1929
“The first encounter of naga club with the British authority was in 1929, during which they had submitted a memorandum on January 10 to the Simon Commission who visited the Naga territory. This was their first expression desiring to restore their independence country as before when the British force withdraw their power from their forceful occupation of Naga territory. The Nagas were fully aware that the British rule would be withdrawn from Asia one day. They were also aware about the proposed’ New Reformed scheme’against the wishes of the Nagas. This scheme turned to be the government of India Act of 1935.This was the British Indian statutory commission, under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon who visited Naga Hills with Mr. Clement Attle as one of the members of the Commission. They landed at Kohima to ascertain the wishes of the Nagas as to whether they would like to join in the proposed ‘ New Reformed schem’. The Naga representatives under the aegis of Naga Club demanted adequate safeguards from any possible rule by Indian or Burmese , right from that day onward. The Nagas expressed that after the british left their land; The status quo ante should be maintained, as it was existed before the advent of the britishers. They expressed this in clear terms that the Nagas should be left alone as they were before the british rule in so that they could continue to live Idependently as before. In This encounter, the question of self-determination was placed before Simon Commission for consideration of their just genuine case. This gave another foundation to the growth of Naga Nationalism movements.
The uprising Nagas for self-determenation took place in different tribal countries since 1930s as a result of the visit of the Simon Commission. The zeliang Movement is one of the Historic examples that demonstrated their political aspiration under the leadership of Mr. Jadunang. He was apprehended by the British force and later on hanged at Guawahati, Assam. Many of his followers were forced to Dead, hanged and imprisoned because of their sacrifices for the cause of their movement. The Naga Gadiliu of Zeliang, who had shown the real spirit of the love of their nation, followed his movement. Thus, the zeliang Naga movements proved to be the pioneering movement in the history of Naga National movement for Freedom.
As per recommendation of the Simon Commission the Naga Hills District was declared constituted on March 3, 1936, and it was kept as ‘Excluded Area’; which means the Naga Hills to be kept outside the British India. This agreement had made through British India Act of 1935. The Governor of Assam was them empowered to administer over this area in his own discretion. It had provided that no Act of the Federal Legislature of Assam Legislature was to apply to the Naga Hills; and thus, the Nagas were not brought within the fold of British Indian new reformed scheme ….” -From Phizo to Muivah’s (2002).