Renewed push for Statehood in the Northeast

Statehood movements have gathered momentum across the Northeast States, with a renewed push for Bodoland, a proposed State comprising areas beyond the four districts under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

On Sunday, organisations such as the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement, and two factions of the National Democratic Front of Boroland, organised a pro-Statehood rally at the BTC headquarters in Kokrajhar in western Assam. Several non-Bodo tribal organisations backed the movement.

“Ours has been one of the oldest movements, since the 1960s, when the credo was to divide Assam 50-50. But we continue to be ignored while many new States have been created in the country under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. More than 5,000 people have died for this cause but we have not veered from the democratic path,” ABSU president Pramod Boro told The Hindu.

He said the Bodoland Statehood stir would be intensified with highway and railway blockades, and civil disobedience movements.

Frontier Nagaland

The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), an apex tribal body with sway in four of Nagaland’s most backward districts, has stepped up its demand for the creation of the Frontier Nagaland State. Three of these four districts — Kiphire, Mon, Tuensang and Longleng — border Myanmar and are thus strategic for India.

The Statehood demand is contrary to the concept of Greater Nagalim, a homeland comprising all Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast that the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagaland’s Isak-Muivah faction has been seeking.

“We believe that the creation of Frontier Nagaland will bail us out of 50 years of underdevelopment and neglect since Nagaland attained Statehood. The demand is our right as enshrined in the Constitution,” ENPO president Kekongchim Yimchunger said.

According to the ENPO, the four districts are denied their share of development funds despite having almost half the area and population of Nagaland. The employment ratio of the people of these districts is a little more than 7%, it said.

Other demands

The Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ruling ally in Tripura, raised pro-Statehood slogans while observing the 10th Twipraland Demand Day on August 23. The demand for carving out a separate State for 19 indigenous communities of the State has been intermittent since 1997.

IPFT president and minister N.C. Debbarma said his party would not stop struggling for Twipraland despite an alliance with the ‘nationalist’ BJP.

The Twipraland-specific event was sandwiched between two shutdowns in Assam by the Koch-Rajbongshi community who have been demanding the Kamtapur State, whose proposed map straddles several districts of Assam and West Bengal.

The other Statehood demands in the Northeast, latent for some time now, are Garoland in the western half of Meghalaya, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (two hill autonomous councils of Assam), and Kukiland in Manipur.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 9:43:50 AM |

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