KOHIMA, April 23 - A monolith dedicated to the Naga Labour Corps� (NLC) participation in the First World War has been unveiled in Kohima on Friday by Nagaland Chief Minister Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu.
One notable deed of these NLC was the founding of the Naga Club, the point where the Naga national movement for dignity germinated.
�Forever grateful to the NLC for the foundation they laid for the everlasting friendship and unity of the Nagas. The NLC created history for our present and for our better future. Let us never forget them for generations to come,� said the Chief Minister.
April 21 marks the date when the first batch of NLC set sail in 1917 for the 1st Great War theatre in Europe.
Around 2,000 Nagas seemed to have been recruited and this group of men were designated as the NLC. According to some documents the NLC arrived in France in two main groups.
The men of the NLC worked in various places around France in salvage work, road repairs, among others.
Subsequently after the war, the 35th Coy moved to Marseille in April 1918 from where they embarked for India at the end of May arriving back in India in June 1918.
According to the Chief Minister, there is no known Memorial in Nagaland to commemorate the Nagas who fought and the many who died in France. But amongst all the tribes who were sent to WW1 duties, the Nagas were the first to realise the need to organise and unite themselves. Men who returned from France formed a socio-political association called the Naga Club with branches in Kohima and Mokokchung immediately after their return in 1918.
This was the association that later in 1929 submitted a representation to the Simon Commission and conveyed to them the right of choice of self-determination of the Nagas when the British left India.
Dr Shurhozelie stated that Nagaland Government has decided to build a memorial in honour of the NLC in Kohima. A Memorial Park will in due course be built around this hilltop.