Say No Evil - Eastern Mirror
Thursday, July 25, 2024

Say no Evil

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 06, 2017 12:14 am

One of the long felt need and aspiration of the Naga people and its evolving identity is the consolidation of all Naga inhabited areas under a single administrative unit. This demand was accepted in principle by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru representing the government and it became a part of the 16-point agreement that was signed in 1960 between the Government of India and the Naga Peoples’ Convention. Another similar clause of the same agreement is clause 12 that seeks the return of all the forest/reserved forest areas that were transferred to Assam. Both the clauses refer to Article 3 and 4 of the constitution, the provisions under which the agreement can be fulfilled.

Since then, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly had also passed resolutions on five different occasions for the integration of all Naga inhabited areas under a single administrative unit. The first was on December 12, 1964 followed by August 28, 1970, September 16, 1994, December 18, 2003 and July 27, 2015. The chief ministers under whose leadership the resolutions were made were P.Shilu Ao, Hokishe Sema, SC Jamir, Neiphiu Rio and TR Zeliang.

Since the turn of the century the issue of Naga integration has become quite contentious especially in the other states where Nagas inhabit. More recently the topic have become almost taboo to discuss out in the open and instigations against it cannot be overruled. In the mainstream media it is portrayed as if the wishes of the Nagas, which is part of the 16-point agreement with the government of India, is outright illegal. Except in the case of Assam, where the issue is two-pronged; return of reserved forests and integration of Naga inhabited areas, there were zero opposition then from any of the states and union territories . In the case of Manipur similar memorandums for integration was submitted by the Naga Integration Committee as early as 1968. A chronologically correct view of the region is self explanatory that the aspiration of the Nagas precedes any other contentions; Manipur got its statehood in 1972 almost 9 years after Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh got it statehood only in 1987. The Tuensang and Mon districts were also part of the Arunachal Pradesh, then known as NEFA, before it was integrated with Naga Hills.

However, the issue today have become so sensitive that it is part of the electoral politics in the region and used by all and sundry especially the political parties. It is at times blown out of proportion by some politicians without any historical basis purely for electoral gains and dividing the people in the process. There are also Naga politicians both present and former legislators who are not sure where they stand on this issue though the NLA have resolved five times for Naga integration. According to some, the integration issue has become a stumbling block for the State in maintaining good neighbourly relations with the other states, implying to forego the demand for integration but not stating it directly. It is uncanny that most of these utterances come just before elections or during elections in the states. At times some Naga politicians instead sound like the spokespersons of the neighbouring states, when they are elected or seeking to be elected from Nagaland, raising speculations in some quarters of sponsorships for elections coming from these states.

This confusing stand by the political parties, politicians and now even some Naga political groups have completely bemused the Naga public especially in Nagaland and have also divided the people. Not to be left behind, the national political parties and its leaders have also joined the bandwagon as was evident from the recent campaigns in Manipur. With changing times, if the day actually arrives to discuss the issue then it can always be negotiated, any issue is negotiable. However the current practice of putting the cart before the horse have just become a breeding ground of wild speculations creating apprehensions, communal tensions and ultimately dividing the people.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 06, 2017 12:14:33 am
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