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Hoho bid to stymie statehood campaign

Kohima, July 23: The campaign brewing in eastern Nagaland for a “state” distinct from the NSCN (Isak-Muivah)’s vision of “Nagalim” has left the apex organisation of the Naga community baffled.

The Naga Hoho said today that there was no question of supporting the attempt by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) to begin a parallel campaign.

Keviletuo Kiewhuo, the Hoho vice-president, said a meeting would be convened soon to discuss the possible repercussions of such a move. “Unless the issue is addressed with political correctness, such a sensitive matter will have far-reaching consequences, more so at a juncture when the peace process is on.”

The dialogue between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre’s team of negotiators was to resume in New Delhi last weekend, but a last-minute change in venue forced them to reschedule the talks. The two sides will now meet in Nagaland on July 30.

The ENPO has yet to formally apprise Delhi of its demand. Its president, Pohwang Konyak, said some people were trying to create misunderstandings among the Naga tribes by raising a hue and cry over the planned campaign.

The organisation cited the state government’s negligence of four districts — Tuensang, Mon, Longleng and Kiphere — as the reason for deciding to campaign for a separate state.

The government responded with the allegation that residents of these districts wanted to be “spoon-fed”. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the four districts were no more backward than other places in Nagaland. He asked the tribes inhabiting Tuensang, Mon, Longleng and Kiphere to have a broader outlook and march ahead with the rest of Naga society. Phoms, Konyaks, Yimchungers, Khiaminungans, Sangtams, Changs and a few sub-tribes inhabit the four districts. Their combined population is around 10 lakh.

The Eastern Nagaland Students’ Federation is separately campaigning for 25 per cent job reservation for residents of these areas.

Legislators representing the four districts have requested the students to suspend their agitation and allow a government-constituted committee to study the pros and cons of reservation.

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