Jorhat, Aug. 7: The people of the four most backward districts of Nagaland have decided to wear black badges on Independence Day to protest against the Centre’s lack of response to their demand for a separate state.
This will be the first time that the people of the four districts — Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire — will resort to an “open revolt” against the Centre to express their resentment.
A delegation of Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (Enpo), which is spearheading the movement for “Frontier Nagaland”, will also visit New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and the home minister to push for a separate state.
“We will go to New Delhi after Independence Day to meet the Prime Minister,” Enpo president Chingmak Chang told The Telegraph today.
Enpo, an apex body of six Naga tribes — Chang, Konyak, Phom, Sangtam, Khiamniungan, Yimchunger — organised rallies in the four districts around a fortnight back to press for its demand.
The organisation, which has been demanding bilateral talks on the issue with the Centre, had earlier rejected a state government proposal for granting autonomy to the four districts, which it thinks would further divide the Nagas. It had also rejected tripartite talks involving the state government.
Chang said though the organisation had submitted a memorandum to the Centre in September last year, there had been no response whatsoever till now. “The people of the four districts will wear black badges on Independence Day as a mark of protest. We will not rest till we are granted statehood,” he said.
The total area of eastern Nagaland is 8,154 square km and has Myanmar on the east, Arunachal Pradesh on the north and Assam on the west, apart from the neighbouring Nagaland districts.
Historically, the eastern districts of Nagaland were in the erstwhile Tuensang frontier division under the aegis of the Indian Frontier Administrative Services and managed by the North East Frontier Agency (Nefa). This area was largely outside the pale of British administration but became a part of India in 1947-48.
After Nagaland was granted statehood in 1963, the Tuensang frontier division and Naga hills of Assam formed the Naga hills-Tuensang area in 1957 and subsequently became a part of Nagaland in 1963.
The Enpo has alleged that though the four districts have around 45 per cent of Nagaland’s population, only 20 members, among 60, represented the area in the Nagaland Assembly.
“Only a separate state will ensure development in this part of the country,” Chang said.