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Op-Ed

NTC memorandum to the Chief Minister

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By EMN Updated: Nov 10, 2014 10:29 pm
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To
The Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Nagaland

Sub: Assam-Nagaland Border Settlement

Sir,
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Principle interest of the colonial power in India in the 18th and 19th centuries were to seek their own interest, profit, desires and conveniences in the vast and rich land of India without comparable regard for the interests of the colonized land.
The Tea Cultivable Areas attracted one on their greatest interests in Northeast and after the seizure of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam by the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, the Colonizers coveted the Naga areas in the plain adjoining the Ahom Kingdom for their Tea cultivation.Unlike in the Ahom Kingdom, the Naga Tribes had no central authority; the land belonged not to any Government but to the Tribe and the Village; Without the consent of the unaltered Villagers, the Colonial Administration illegally constituted the virgin jungles of the Nagas along the Assam-Nagaland plain into Tea Gardens and into Reserved Forests which were subsequently transferred to Assam Districts for their own rather than the convenience of the Owners.
This is core issue for which the Nagas for once are united in demanding its return right from the first formal meeting with the Simon Commission in 1929. The Nagas put up a petition to the Simon Commission for return of the Transferred Forests back to the Naga Hills.
Then after 18 years, in 1947, June 27 to 29 the Governor of Assam Sir. Akbar Hydari came to Kohima and negotiated a 9-Points Agreement with the Nagas; the Governor, the Secretary to the Governor Mr. Rastumji and the Premier of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, appended their signatures to document in their own hand, vowing to abide by all the Terms of Agreement: One of the Terms of the Agreement was the return of the Reserved Forests taken away from Naga Hills.
Then in August 1957, in pursuant of the desires of the Naga People’s Convention, the Government of India amalgamated the Tuengsang-Mon Area inhabited by Nagas of the then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) to Naga Hills and formed a separate Administration Unit called Naga Hills-Tuengsang Area (NHTA) but the transferred integral Lands of the Nagas were not included in the NHTA.
The Nagas were greatly dissatisfied and demanded the creation of a full fledged NAGALAND STATE with all their ancestral Lands taken away from them be included.When the negotiations were being carried on in Delhi with Nehru, the 1st Prime Minister of India, all of a sudden Mr. AZ Phizo, the Leader of the Nagas demanding Sovereign Independent State of Nagaland, appeared in London on June 12, 1960 ostensibly on way to United Nations to submit the Naga Case; the News splashed in the papers in London and all the News Papers and Medias in India in the morning. To prevent Phizo’s Naga Independence Demand, in 1960, Nehru quickly concluded the negotiations with the Naga People’s Convention with a 16-Point Agreement between the Government of India and the Delegates of the Naga People’s Convention.
In the haste of creation of the 16th STATE OF NAGALAND with an unusual Special Provision of Article 371A of the Indian Constitution for Nagaland, the simple Naga Delegates were informed that the Boundary questions would be normally dealt in the processes laid down in the Constitution of India but the Transferred Areas were never returned to Nagaland.
The representative of the Government of India pointed out to the Naga delegation on behalf of the Government of India that the boundary of the new State have to be stated in the First Schedule of the Constitution if it was to come into being as a State. Under Regulation 6 of 1957 and Nagaland Act. 27 of 1962, the 3 Districts of Kohima, Mokokchung and Tuensang were notified in the schedule which will form part of the State of Nagaland without defining precise boundary. Therefore, the delegation was advised to take up this issue under the provision of Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution of India after accepting the State. After discussion, the Government of India had agreed to place on record the following agreement and the Nagas had agreed to accept “Statehood” under these conditions.
Point 12: “The Naga delegation discussed the question of the inclusion of the Reserve Forests and of contiguous areas inhabited by the Nagas. They were referred to the provisions in Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution prescribing the procedure for the transfer of areas from one State to another.”
Point 13: “The Naga leaders expressed the view that other Nagas inhabiting in the contiguous areas should be enable to join the new State. It was pointed out to them on behalf of the Government of India that Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution of India provided for increasing the area of any state, but that it was not possible for the GOI to make any commitment in this regard at this stage”.
The above point 12 and 13 were agreed upon appreciating the position that it would be essential to restore to the Nagas the areas transferred to the plain districts of Assam by the Britishers for their administrative convenience and the neighboring Naga inhabited areas to join the proposed State of Nagaland. The Naga delegation was prevailed upon to accept the State on the consideration that only after Nagaland became a State, they could take recourse to the provisions of Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution for the restoration of the areas transferred out of Naga territory and allow the Naga inhabited areas to form the new State. It may be mentioned that after coming into force of the Constitution of India, the boundaries between different States should in fact be altered by increasing and or decreasing the areas of respective State by different enactments made by the Parliament to removed their grievances of Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution in accordance with Point 12 and 13 of the ‘16 Point Agreement’.
It was on the basis of the final agreement arrived at in July 1960, late Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, on 1st August 1960 announced in the Parliament, the Government of India’s decision to establish ‘Nagaland’ a state of India comprising the territory of the then existing Naga Hill Tuensang Area. The Government of India could not make definite arrangement at that stage before Nagaland became a State on the questions of restoration of transferred areas and merger of contiguous areas inhabited by Nagas but the issue was kept open for future settlement under the provision of the Constitution.
After accepting Statehood, the Naga people had hoped that the Government of India, according to their assurance given to the delegation, would take immediate action to re-adjust the boundaries between the two States of Assam and Nagaland by returning all the reserved forest and other areas transferred out of the then Naga Hills to Assam. For more than half a century, Naga people have been still waiting without any solution to the problem in sight. The people have become restive and emotionally charged with doubt that the fate of ‘16 Point Agreement’, the very basis of Nagaland Statehood would also meet the same fate as that of the ‘9 Point Agreement’ of 1947.
Unfortunately things never emerged as expected in spite of verbal promise from Jawaharlal Nehru who unfortunately passed away prematurely in 1964 and the Nagas today over the 51 years later, feel deceived by the words of the Articles in the Constitution of India.
Several agreements were signed between the two neighboring states, a supposedly and hopefully a Neutral Forces even, was deployed in the troubled areas but the so called neutral forces under the control and command of the Head of the Police Forces of Assam was not equal to the task. There were intermittent loss of lives and troubles in the Area; the two neighbors even fought a Border War.
The Assam claims of 1925 Inner line as the Boundary between Assam and Nagaland, this Inner line was never meant to be Land Boundary between the two states. This Inner line was constituted by the British long before Indian Independence to be a Cultural Boundary between the unlettered Naga Society and the various sophistications of the advance Societies from outside so that the simple and unique life of the Nagas would be preserved from undesirable persons from Outside.
In the light of the above, the NTC firmly rejects the 1925 Inner line to be the boundary demarcation between Nagaland and Assam as it has no historical or traditional basis.
The NTC welcome the Supreme Court of India’s directive to the Union Home Ministry to submit a report on or before the next date of hearing slated for Wednesday, the 3rd of December, 2014 as to whether or not it is possible for it to demarcate the boundaries between the States of Assam and Nagaland on the basis of the maps available with the Surveyor of India. That, the Government of India will also indicate whether it will be possible with the help of latest technology and satellite imageries to indicate the boundary positions also as on the date of the filling of suit 2 in 1988 and the latest position that obtains on the spot.
The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reportedly urged the Chief Ministers of Assam and Nagaland to maintain people-to-people contact along the inter-state border to strengthen peace and harmony. The Union Minister also urged both the Chief Ministers to find an amicable solution to the vexed border dispute.
While the Union Home Minister is taking a sincere reconciliatory effort to find a solution to be honorable and acceptable to both the States, the State Governments are directed to submit its respective written suggestions to the Home Ministry within two weeks time which is expected to be the basis of guidance for amicable solution to the long standing issue. That being the firm directive of the Supreme Court and the sincere effort of the Union Home Ministry, the State Government of Nagaland has to react appropriately, efficiently and on time. This is a great opportunity for the two States to settle the Dispute mutually in Peace for all perpetuity.
The above representation is submitted on the basis of the Notifications, Agreements, Joint declarations and evidences substantiating the Claims of our Ancestral Domain since time in memorial.
Sd/-
(Lendinoktang Ao) (Nribemo Ngullie)
Acting President, NTC General Secretary, NTC

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By EMN Updated: Nov 10, 2014 10:29:51 pm