Kohima, July 30 (IANS) As tribals in neighbouring Manipur are demanding for a separate state for themselves, the separate ‘Frontier Nagaland’ demand also another major burden for the state and Central government amidst the unresolved decades-old Naga political issue.
Claiming that the six districts have been neglected for years, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) has been demanding a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland’ state, since 2010.
Seven backward tribes of eastern Nagaland — Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Tikhir, Sangtam, and Yimkhiung — are spread across these six districts.
Tribals constitute around 87 per cent of the total two million populations in Christian-dominated Nagaland, inhabited by 17 major tribes along with other sub-tribes with each distinct in character from the other in terms of customs, language and attire.
Off and on organising agitations, the ENPO, the apex tribal organisation of eastern Nagaland, and many other organisations to press its demand had boycotted the mega annual Hornbill festival last year.
The ENPO and its associated organisations, in support of its separate state demand, gave a call to boycott the February 27 Nagaland Assembly polls but subsequently withdrew the boycott call following the assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Shah had also met ENPO leaders number of accessions on the issue earlier.
The Home Minister, before the Assembly polls, had said that all the issues of the ENPO have been discussed and an agreement would be signed after the elections.
However, after over five months, ‘Frontier Nagaland’ issue still remains in limbo.
Amidst the long-pending demand of a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland’ state, a consultative meeting on the Centre’s proposal for constitution of an Autonomous Council for six eastern districts of Nagaland was held on June 30 in Kohima.
A Nagaland government official said that a consultative meeting, on the proposal of the Central government, was for an Autonomous Council for the six eastern districts — Tuensang, Mon, Longleng, Kiphire, Shamator, and Noklak.
However, the outcome of the consultative meeting was not disclosed.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Ministers, the Assembly Speaker, all the Ministers, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members of the state along with the Chief Secretary, several MLAs, and leaders of many tribal organisations were present in the meeting.
Responding to the ENPO’s demand, the Union Home Ministry, earlier this year, formed a three-member committee headed by Ministry of Home Affairs Adviser, Northeast, A.K. Mishra and the panel visited Nagaland several times and talked with all concerned including the ENPO leaders.
Regarding the demand of the ENPO for a separate state, the Chief Minister recently said that the state government has already recommended to the Centre for the formation of an autonomous region for the people belonging to the eastern region of the state.
Rio said that the state government would continue to keep the Naga political issue at the top of its agenda.
He said that the recognition of the unique history, culture and identity and Naga issue as political and the signing of the Framework Agreement and the Agreed Position, the joint statement made on October 18, 2022 in Kolkata, and the signing of the ‘Nagas are moving ahead’ at the meeting at Chumoukedima in Kohima on January 14 are just some of the landmarks which the on-going dialogue has been successful in achieving.
Rio said the state government aims to take Nagaland towards ‘A State of Excellence,’ and that the citizens must strive to excel in their chosen fields and careers and in doing so, push ‘Brand Nagaland’ and popularise ‘Naga soft power’.