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Nagaland: Kohima Village Council against rechristening of Indira Gandhi Stadium

The NDPP-BJP government in the state decided to rename the stadium after T Ao, who led the Indian football team in the 1948 London Olympics

india Updated: Mar 29, 2018 17:32 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Indira Gandhi Stadium,T Ao,London Olympics
The Kohima Village Council opposes Nagaland government’s decision to rename Indira Gandhi stadium in the state capital. (HT File Photo )

The Nagaland government’s move to rename a stadium named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi in the state capital hit a hurdle with influential Kohima village council opposing the decision.

The newly elected coalition government comprising the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party soon after assuming power earlier this month decided to rename the stadium after Dr Talimeren Ao, a legendary football player from the state.

Renaming of the stadium was one of the first decisions taken by the new cabinet, hours after the swearing in of chief minister Neiphiu Rio and 11 other ministers, on March 8.

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In a release issued after the cabinet decision, the government stated that renaming would “coincide with the centenary year of the sports legend” who was the first Naga Olympian and captained the Indian football team in the 1948 London Olympics.

But the move hasn’t gone down well with the KVC.

As per the Naga customary laws, which are protected under Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution, the land belongs to the people and the village councils are its custodians. The decision of the council in matters related to land is supreme.

In a press statement issued by the council’s chairman Neiphi Kire and secretary Zeneizo Rutsa said the decision was “not advisable.”

“It is indeed encouraging to see that the new government is bringing positive changes in the fields of games and sports by introducing Nagaland sports policy, Dr T Ao football academy etc,” the statement read.

“However, the council is of the opinion that changing name of Indira Gandhi stadium to Dr T Ao stadium is not advisable,” it added.

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Stating that there are other ways of honouring someone without dishonouring someone else, the council mentioned how three former prime ministers are linked to the stadium.

While it is named after Indira Gandhi, the foundation stone of the stadium was laid by her son Rajiv Gandhi on October 6, 1987 and it was inaugurated on October 28, 2003 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“The foundation stone, the inaugural stone are laid prominently at the entrance of the gallery for all to see. To destroy these historical monoliths physically is not a wise decision” the statement said.

“We are surprised that the government has suddenly decided to do away with the legacy of these former prime ministers without consultation with the stakeholders, land owners and public leaders,” it added.

Asking the government to maintain status quo on the stadium, the KVC told the government if it wished to honour Dr T Ao, it should set up another stadium in a different part of the state.

A day after taking oath on March 9, the new BJP government in Tripura had also announced to rename the Agartala Airport after Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, the last reigning king of the state.

A year after coming to power, last year the BJP-led coalition in Assam had announced renaming of 10 major roads in the state capital Guwahati after prominent Assamese personalities and the party’s ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

First Published: Mar 29, 2018 17:00 IST