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NPF fails to decide on Mao recognition

- Uncertainty on Naga organisation too

Kohima, May 8: A meeting of the central office-bearers of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) on the twin issues of granting recognition to the Mao community and forming an exclusive organisation for the Nagas of the state ended inconclusively here last evening.

Party president Shurhozelie Liziestsu, who is a strong advocate of integration of contiguous Naga areas, chaired the closed-door meeting.

Sources said the meeting discussed two issues — recognition of the Mao community, who are Nagas from Manipur, a move that is being opposed by some quarters, and formation of a new organisation for the Nagas of Nagaland.

“But the meeting was inconclusive,” a source said, adding that another meeting would be held soon.

The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), which has maintained that Nagas were one wherever they were and should remain united for a common cause, has skirted the issue of according recognition to Naga communities from other states. A senior office-bearer of the federation said the issue should be kept in abeyance.

The Eastern Nagaland Students’ Federation (ENSF) said the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) had also stated that it would oppose any move by the Nagaland government to recognise Nagas from other states.

While the Rongmei community was recognised last year, mainly at the initiative of planning minister T.R. Zeliang, the Tangkhul and Poumai settlers from Manipur are demanding recognition.

Though the government has already constituted a committee to study the representation made by the Mao community requesting recognition, home commissioner Temjen Toy said the government was yet to decide on the issue.

Sources said members of the NPF were unhappy with chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s involvement in the affairs of Nagas of other states and his alleged neglect of the people of his own state. Rio, however, has been saying that his intention was to emotionally integrate all the Nagas.

Leaders of Naga society here are of the view that outsiders are suppressing the state’s people and that the government has failed to protect the latter’s interests.

The people, too, are worried that according recognition to more communities would infringe upon their rights and privileges, especially in the job sector, as the state already has around 70,000 unemployed youths.

Again, a move by a section of people to form an organisation exclusively for the Nagas of the state has been dubbed counter-productive to efforts to reach out to the greater Naga community, with the Naga Hoho, the apex orga- nisation of the Nagas, opposing it.