Nagaland, NSAZ (Myanmar)
NSF, JD(U) call for reconsideration, dialogue on FMR abolition
DIMAPUR — The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and the Janata Dal (United) Nagaland state unit have expressed opposition and concern over the recent decision of the central government to abolish the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the India-Myanmar border.
In separate statements on Thursday, the NSF and JD both emphasised the historical significance of the FMR, urging for a reconsideration of the decision through meaningful dialogue.
According to the NSF, the Naga people have long suffered the consequences of arbitrary divisions imposed by external forces and “any attempt to further divide and fence the Nagas is as an affront to our rights and autonomy.”
Stating that the centre’s decision has raised grave concerns among the Naga people, the student body maintained that the FMR serves as a vital bridge fostering connections, relations, and cooperation between the Naga people on both sides of the Saramati mountain range. Its abolition would disrupt the historical ties and cooperation that have existed for generations, it said.
The student body appreciated the Government of Nagaland’s efforts, and at the same time, urged for proactive engagement with the central government to ensure that the FMR is not abolished. It also cautioned against “any individuals or political entities taking advantage of this issue solely for political mileage in Delhi.”
“The Naga aspiration for autonomy and respect for our rights should not be compromised for short-term political gains. We urge all stakeholders to prioritise the welfare and aspirations of the Naga people over political opportunism,” it asserted.
Further, the NSF said that the Centre’s decision to abolish FMR was ‘deeply troubling’, considering that India’s is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 (UNDRIP) which, among others, “explicitly recognises the rights of indigenous peoples divided by international borders to maintain and develop connections, relations, and cooperation across borders for various purposes.”
The student body went on to state that the 1,643-km-long India-Myanmar border is a complex landscape with diverse communities and histories, and as such, “It is imperative to find a solution that not only respects our historical rights but also aligns with the international commitments made by the Indian government to uphold the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Calling upon the Indian government to reconsider its decision and engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Naga community, the NSF asserted that it would not allow any divisive powers to further segregate the Naga people based on their political whims and imperialistic conveniences by any manmade boundaries or imaginary lines in the Naga homeland.
“The Naga people cannot be denied of the right to maintain and develop connections amongst our ethnic selves that have been integral to our cultural, social, and economic fabric,” it said, while calling for a united effort from the state and central governments to address this issue through dialogue and understanding, respecting the historical context and the rights of the indigenous Naga community.
Decision made without sufficient discourse — JD
Similarly, the JD stated that the FMR has played crucial role in promoting cultural exchange and regional integration between two nations.
“The abrupt termination of this age-old established and seasoned convention of ‘Free Movement’ raises questions about the impact on communities and individuals who have benefitted from the ease of movement across borders,” the party said in a statement which was issued after a meeting of state executive and district office bearers, on Thursday.
Noting the age-long historical significance of the FMR that has fostered people-to-people connections, cultural exchange, and economic trade ties between the two neighbouring countries, the JD noted that the centre appears to have made the decision without sufficient public consultation or transparent discourse.
“The state JD views that the sudden termination of the free movement regime by the central government is tantamount to creating barriers amongst the same fraternity which will lead to disparities and hinder free flow of ideas, people, and resources,” the statement read.
The party also urged the central government to reconsider its decision, taking into account the potential consequences on bilateral relations and the longstanding connections between the two nations.
It called for a collaborative approach that involves open dialogue with the public, considering diverse perspectives, and seeking alternative solutions that address concerns without compromising the principles of free movement.