Help in integration of Naga areas, says Nagaland CM

Appeals to neighbouring States to let Nagas separated by political boundaries live together

Updated - August 17, 2019 01:25 am IST

Published - August 17, 2019 01:24 am IST - GUWAHATI

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. File

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. File

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has appealed to the neighbouring States to facilitate the integration of Naga-inhabited areas of the northeast to let Nagas separated by political boundaries live together.

Nagaland’s neighbours - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur - are opposed to the idea of integration as it entails giving up large swathes of land for a unified Naga homeland, which has been one of the main demands of the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).

Democratic rights

“I appeal to the neighbouring States to recognise the history, yearning and democratic rights of the Nagas so that they can live together under a spirit of peaceful co-existence in the truest traditions of harmony and friendship,” Mr. Rio said in his Independence Day speech in Nagaland’s capital Kohima on Thursday.

Lauds Modi

He also appreciated the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for reiterating the “uniqueness of Naga history” and reassuring that Article 371A was a solemn and sacred commitment to the people of Nagaland.

There were apprehensions that the Centre would dilute Article 371A, which guarantees special provisions to the Nagas, after the move on Article 370 associated with Jammu and Kashmir.

Violent protests

The Nagaland Chief Minister said his government had always supported integration and that it had been a long-standing desire of the Nagas to live as one. This is expected to attract criticism from the neighbouring States that have witnessed violent protests against the bid to integrate Naga-inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella, as envisaged in the NSCN-IM’s ‘Greater Nagalim’ plan.

The Greater Nagalim map includes Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh, a wide strip of land across Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam, and Senapati, Kangpokpi, Ukhrul, Kamjong, Tamenglong, Tengnoupal and Noney districts of Manipur.

Register of citizens

Mr. Rio’s appeal follows reports of his government’s differences with the NSCN-IM which has criticised the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), the ongoing headcount exercise. On the lines of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, RIIN seeks to identify Nagaland’s indigenous people.

Nagaland has 16 recognised tribes but there are a lot of Nagas from Manipur who are settled in Nagaland. RIIN is thus seen to be in conflict with ‘integration’, though Mr. Rio clarified it was not meant to discriminate against or hurt the interests of any citizen.

The NSCN-IM has been holding peace negotiations with the Centre since 1997. A Framework Agreement - its contents have not been disclosed - was signed in August 2015, but a permanent solution has remained elusive.

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