Rano M Shaiza, Nagaland’s first and only woman member of Parliament died in Kohima on Wednesday.
Elected to the 6th Lok Sabha in 1977, Shaiza (86) leaves behind two daughters and a son.
Shaiza was born in 1928. Her father Sevilie Iralu was the third Naga doctor, while mother Vitulie-ii Iralu was an elder sister of AZ Phizo, founder of the Naga separatist movement. Rano Shaiza, who was herself the first Naga woman to join the Science stream after passing out from high school, initially became a teacher but later forayed into public activism and politics, in the process founding the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) that had worked hard for total prohibition in Nagaland.
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She was also the first president of the Naga Women’s Federation of the Naga National Council, and was imprisoned for 19 months during the early period of the Naga movement in the 1960s. Rano Shaiza had also created a record of sorts by becoming president of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in a state where women hardly get space in political parties, and later also became the first and only woman from Nagaland to get elected to the Lok Sabha.
In fact, she defeated then chief minister Hokishe Sema of the Congress party in the historic general election of 1977. Shaiza, whose brother-in-law (and former Manipur chief minister) Yangmasho Shaiza and husband Lungshim Shaiza were both assassinated by the NSCN in 1984 and 1990 respectively, also played a crucial role in organizing a peace meeting between then prime minister Morarji Desai and her maternal uncle and NNC president AZ Phizo.