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Op-Ed

Why Frontier Nagaland?

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By EMN Updated: Jul 11, 2018 11:49 pm
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By Rev. Fr. Benjamin Chang

The present four Eastern Districts was an un-administered area and was part of North East Frontier Agency (NEFA). The Eastern Nagas were never under the rule of the Britishers and was free up to the stage when India got its Independence. It was only in the year 1948, a year after India achieved independence that it came under the control of India and was placed under the External Affairs Ministry. There is no written record that mentions about any agreements that has been inked with the Indian Government and the Eastern Nagas.

In fact, at that point of time the Nagas under Assam were given step-motherly treatment by the Assamese. They were not given their due shares which prompted the Naga leaders of Naga Hills of Assam to approached their fellow brothers of the erstwhile Tuensang Division of NEFA, to bail them out and live together as one. The Eastern Naga brothers sensing the difficulties and the problems faced by the fellow brothers living under the Assam State agreed to accommodate and live together under the banner of Naga Hills Tuensang Areas, which later led to the formation of the present Nagaland State. Tuensang Division of NEFA and Naga Hill Districts of Assam and Manipur was amalgamated in 1957 to become NHTA after which Nagaland was declared as the 16th State of the Indian Union in 1963 by Nagaland Statehood Recognition Act 1962 with Tuensang, Kohima and Mokokchung as the three districts of Nagaland. Since Tuensang Division of NEFA was amalgamated to Naga Hills and formed Naga Hills Tuensang Areas, the state of Nagaland was not kept under Ministry of Home Affairs but was kept under the Ministry of External Affairs. Had they not taken that step, the present scenario would be like that of the other tribals of Assam like the Karbis, Boros and others. Taking into account the inaccessibility of the terrains and the remoteness of the Naga Hills, it might have been even worse than the present condition of Assam tribals. We also don’t know what the erstwhile Tuensang Division would be, if it was left alone as Tuensang Division of North East Frontier Agency.

The Eastern Nagas were almost half a century behind the other Naga brothers. The reason why the whole Eastern Nagas accepted the Christian Missionaries and embraced the Christian faith was solely out of hope and trust that we Nagas, as one Christian family will be able to work together and progress together in life. However, in the process, the Eastern Naga tribes had to suffer a lot and is still suffering from that association. Eastern people have not received much benefits from that friendship. Since the Nagas of Naga Hills were advanced in the field of Education, even IV grade jobs in the Eastern Naga areas were being filled up by the educated ones. “Our people got Christ, but our jobs were taken away.” The educated leaders and govt bureaucrats took advantage of the eastern areas, which led to the wide disparity among us. We all profess to be Naga Christians but in practice, willfully deprive the Eastern Nagas the due shares. After the statehood, Tuensang was not under Nagaland State Assembly but Tuensang had Regional Council for 10 years (1963-74) and till that time Nagaland State was kept under External affairs. The Naga leaders of that time tricked and convinced Tuensang Regional Council to be dissolve and it was dissolved by voice vote in 1974. The Tuensang District also participated in the Indian election for the first time. After the state election of 1974, Nagaland state was brough under Ministry of Home Affairs. Till now, Art 371A of the Indian Constitution is not amended by Union Government as no written record about the dissolvement of the Tuensang Regional Council was forwarded to the Center. It was just orally or maliciously communicated for making the Union Govt to bring the Nagaland State under Ministry of Home Affairs from Ministry of External Affairs.

The huge amount meant for the development of Eastern Areas are siphoned off by people in power. People who get posted in Eastern Areas takes it as an opportunity to give backward excuses, relax and then take away anything that is meant for the development of the villages. Even after 60 years of Statehood, there are so many villages untouched by modernity. There are so many who are yet to see the fruits of development of our present statehood. Our state has got more then one lakh forty thousand govt employees. And the percentage of Eastern Nagas employed in the government sector is very less. A small state like ours is supposed to be managed by sixty to eighty thousand government employees. The successive government keeps on creating vacant post in the backward areas by allowing the government employees posted in the eastern villages to be transferred along with the posts to other towns. In 2010-11, the ENSF made a survey and detected that there were more than 1500 govt employees in education department alone, who were transferred along with the posts from Eastern Areas to other districts. This is one of the major reason why the govt schools in many villages are existing and running without sufficient teachers.

Those who have never ventured out of their hearth use to say that all are being treated equally but those who visited the Eastern Areas and get to see the reality are so appalled by the living conditions of the villagers. One can’t imagine that the eastern villagers are economically so poor even to feed their children, forget about educating them. It’s not a surprising thing to see so many children from eastern areas working in others house to work as maids and servants. The data published by DUDA under the title “Eastern Nagaland at a glance” shows that there is a vast gap that exists between the eastern districts with the rest of the state on all the development metrics. The region’s literacy levels are much lower, the unemployment rate is significantly higher, and the health infrastructure is in very bad shape. Many people are of the opinion that the DUDA department is exclusively created for the Eastern Nagas. But most of the funds, schemes, projects of DUDA is also shared by Peren, Zunheboto, Wokha and Phek districts. Only Dimapur, Kohima and Mokokchung Districts are not getting DUDA funds.

It is a known fact that the funds meant for the development of our state is siphoned off by people in power of both the backward and advanced tribes for their own benefit and is also given away as salaries by creating so many unwanted government posts. 25% reservation is only in papers. Many govt employees gets retired every month but all the important vacancies are being filled up by people related to people in power without making any requisition to NPSC or without conducting any departmental examinations. With much trust this problem of neglecting the eastern nagas was put forwarded again and again by the Eastern Leaders to the Union and the State Governments. Everyone heard and knows that the Eastern Area is so backward but the recent backdoor appointments in some State departments by snatching away from the Eastern Areas has hurt the sentiments of many. Now, rarely do people look forward to moving ahead together.

There are Nagas under Myanmar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur. Another state won’t make another less Naga. Let there so many Naga States. Let there be more Naga houses. It will always stand as a Naga house. Even our Churches within the same tribes keep on growing and expanding. We even allow our grown up kids to fend for themselves and chart their own destiny. Having said that, there is still a ray hope that all of us can contribute in bringing the needed changes and continue to live under this present state. I personally believe that if we live by our true Christian values, all of us will be able to progress together as God’s own Children. God didn’t created us to go backward. But He created us to fight against the evil forces and move forward in experiencing and spreading His kingdom values during our short life here on earth.

The Hebrew word for “justice/mishpat”, occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. Mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights. The mishpat, or justness, of a society, according to the Bible, is evaluated by how we treat the weaker sections of people. Any neglect shown to the needs of the members of the society is not called merely a lack of mercy or charity but a violation of justice, of mishpat. God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we be. That is what it means “to do justice.”

 

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By EMN Updated: Jul 11, 2018 11:49:14 pm