DIMAPUR, Jan 28 – Bearing historical significance and sentimental value, the last British flag that flew over the DC’s office in Kohima during the British rule in India was officially handed over to the Nagaland Government recently to be preserved as a heritage that has become part of the Naga history.
When India attained independence in 1947, this particular flag was taken down to give way to the Indian tricolour. It was found dumped and discarded among other materials in the office several years later by late Mhonsao Kikon who served as a typist at the DC’s office under the British Government and also under the new Government of India.
As a mark of respect as well as his own sentimental attachment to the British Government under which he had served, Kikon retrieved the partly worm-ravaged flag and took it for safe keeping.
Mhonsao Kikon continued to serve in the same office and rose to the position of Senior Treasury Officer by the time he retired in 1981.
The flag was later taken to the United Kingdom and handed over to Dr Alan Mc Farlane of Cambridge University by Lily Das who learnt of the flag 11 years ago. The historic British flag was also flown on the Imperial Museum during the launch of the book ‘Road of Bones’, written by BBC Correspondent and writer Fergal Keane, giving room for silence and emotions.
After quite an emotional journey, the flag travelled back to Nagaland, as desired by the Chief Minister of Nagaland, which was highlighted by Lily Das during the handing over of the historic flag at Hotel Vivor on Sunday. “We were part of the World War II, and through this flag, our children and grandchildren would know our history,” she said, while acknowledging Late Mhonsao Kikon, his wife Nchuponi and family for preserving the heritage.
Describing the event as historical and significant, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio observed that “Nagas are very poor in our history” and added, “Literally, we don’t have history – we used bamboo, wood, thatch.” He said that it was indeed historical that the British flag which flew on the Kohima DC’s office in 1947 could be saved and after taking a journey to the UK has travelled back to its rightful resting place.
Further disclosing that the BBC has expressed interest on documenting the journey of the flag from the UK to Nagaland, he hoped that the documentary would take definite shape.
In the meantime, he proposed that the flag be restored and preserved properly. “It will be a main attraction at the World War II museum,” he said.
A host of Cabinet Ministers, wife of late Mhonsao Kikon, Nchuponi, and their children and grandchildren were present at the special function. Later, the family also contributed the Pagadi (turban) for preservation at the WW II Museum and handed it over to the Commissioner and Secretary for Tourism.
The turban belonged to late Wopansao Kithan who served as a cook for three Deputy Commissioners – Dr JH Hutton, JP Mills and CR Pawsey – in Kohima under the British Government. The turban was a part of the uniform which the cooks wore while performing their duties.