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NPF leader trashes statehood

Kohima, Dec. 8: As the state celebrates the 50th anniversary of statehood, the ruling Naga People’s Front said the formation of Nagaland had sown the seed of disunity and division among Nagas.

In a statement, adviser to NPF and former Nagaland commissioner T.N. Mannen said the creation of Nagaland had relegated efforts to integrate all Naga-inhabited areas. “It was unfortunate that the formation of the state, proudly proclaimed as a brilliant achievement, opening a new era of peace and progress, had really planted the seed of disunity and division among the Nagas,” he said. He said statehood in its present form was thus a great mistake which had brought about far-reaching setbacks affecting the socio-political life of the Nagas as a whole.

The NPF leader said the immediate visible development after the creation of Nagaland on December 1, 1963, was the sharp divide between militants and statehood supporters. It was a mistake committed by some liberal leaders of the Naga People’s Convention (NPC), who had signed a 16-point agreement with the Centre in 1960 for the creation of Nagaland.

He said the members of NPC going ahead with the pact without consulting the militants who were the key players in the Naga national movement, was a “costly mistake”.

Another serious disappointment about the formation of the state in its present truncated form was the compromise made on vital core issues. “Evidently the Nagas were in an advantageous position to put forward their core demands. There was a much better chance of fulfilling the demands if not fully but to a large extent at that time. If only the Naga convention leaders had handled the situation more maturely and objectively with due consultation with the Naga nationalist groups and articulated their demands cogently without succumbing to the lure of benefits,” the NPF adviser said.

On the border issue with Assam, Mannen said settlement on a permanent basis was becoming more remote. He added that despite tall promises and assurances made by the government for a boundary commission to settle the border problem, frequent border clashes continued to occur. The issue has been bogged down over a writ petition filed by Assam in the Supreme Court in 1988 praying to declare the controversial 1925-notification as the constitutional boundary between the two states through the court. This notification, issued during British rule, consolidated all the disputed forest areas transferred out of the then Naga hills district over the years (1826-1925) to the neighbouring districts of Assam.

He said Assam was trying to legitimise the defective notified line for permanent possession, adding that Assam was aware that the disputed areas originally belonged to the Nagas.

He said the Centre has ruled out Naga integration and that high expectation of an acceptable negotiated settlement to the chronic Naga political issue appeared to be in limbo after more than a decade round of talks.

At present ,the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) is holding talks with the Centre.

Mannen said though the common Nagas are passing through a serious fatigue syndrome by the sacrifices made throughout the prolonged conflicts, it would be wrong to presume that they would accept any settlement that may consider a surrender of the long cherished goal of recognising a united Naga entity.

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