Nagalim: Rich Tributes to Sangtam
A bevy of Naga leaders, including several ministers, paid glowing tributes to Naga Hoho president Horangse Sangtam during a funeral service.
Naga Hoho vice-president Keviletuo Angami said Sangtam’s last words were that his mission to restore peace in Nagaland was more important than his health. “Let us be committed to fulfilling his commitment,” he said.
Sangtam, 63, had been admitted to a Bangkok hospital on February 3 after he complained of breathing problems. He died on Monday night. The Naga Hoho chief had led a seven-member delegation to the Thailand capital just a few days earlier to interact with the NSCN (I-M) leadership and Indian negotiators during their ceasefire-renewal talks there.
Chief minister Neiphiu Rio and some cabinet colleagues were at Dimapur airport yesterday afternoon to receive the Naga Hoho leader’s body.
For a man of such popularity, Sangtam’s election as president of the apex tribal organisation of Nagaland was mired in controversy. But colleagues said he single-mindedly carried on his mission.
Dimapur Stadium, the venue of the funeral service for the Naga Hoho chief, was chock-a-block with community leaders, representatives of NGOs and countless admirers of the leader. Naga Mothers’ Association president Kheshili Chishi described Sangtam as an “inspiring personality”. Naga Students’ Federation chief Phushikha Aomi echoed her.
Leaders of several Naga groups from Manipur came for the funeral service and extolled the Naga Hoho leader’s commitment to the community’s cause. “He thought that if the process (the NSCN-Delhi talks) went on endlessly, it would endanger peace in Nagaland,” United Naga Council president Puni Modoli said.
Rio was away in Peren district for an official programme. His ministerial colleague Shurhozelie Liezietsu paid tributes to Sangtam on the government’s behalf.
Senior BJP leader Hokishe Sema, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, was present, too.
Markets in Dimapur remained closed till afternoon as a mark of respect to Sangtam.