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Rio fans affiliation flames

Kohima, Sept. 12: The Neiphiu Rio cabinet today set the cat among the pigeons by deciding to enact a legislation that will facilitate affiliation of schools in the Naga-inhabited areas of other states to the Nagaland Board of School Education.

None would have been more offended than Manipur, fighting a losing battle with Naga organisations that have already forced many schools in the hill districts of that state to follow the syllabus prescribed by the Nagaland board.

A legislation will complete the changeover.

School education minister Imkong L. Imchen said the cabinet reviewed the scope for “expansion of areas of functioning” of the Nagaland board and the feasibility of granting affiliation to schools in other Naga-inhabited areas.

The government has been under pressure from various Naga organisations, including the influential Naga Hoho and the Naga Students’ Federation, to hasten the process. Dozens of letters have also been written to the central government to facilitate the change despite opposition from the Manipur government.

Congress leaders in Nagaland have always been sceptical about any such arrangement, but the irony of it is that they have decided to support the move. Manipur sees it as an extension of the campaign for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of other states with Nagaland.

The complexity of the issue increased when the Khaplang faction of the NSCN warned Nagas of Manipur not to interfere in the affairs of Nagaland.

Militants of that faction even pushed a bus that was taking Naga matric examinees from Manipur to Nagaland earlier this year down a gorge after forcing them to disembark.

On the other hand, the All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur set several schools in Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel ablaze in protest against the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s opposition to any change in affiliation. Student activists also made a bonfire of textbooks prescribed by the Manipur board.

Apart from deciding to enact a legislation, the Rio cabinet today accepted the interim recommendations of the government-constituted committee on reservation.

The panel recommended a 25 per cent employment quota for residents of the four backward districts of Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng. The demand was raised by the Eastern Nagaland Students’ Federation and other organisations of those districts.

They were planning to force the closure of all government offices from today till Friday as part of the agitation.

“This is a landmark decision,” Imchen said of the government’s acceptance of the recommendations.

Sumi Nagas of Kiphire district will also enjoy the benefits of reservation.

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