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Official opens old wound

Kohima, July 4: Mokokchung deputy commissioner Murho Chutso today opened Pandora’s box saying the people of Naga hills have traditionally possessed land adjoining Jorhat and Sivasagar districts in Assam since time immemorial, which they inherited from their forefathers.

In a circular today, he said the system of landholding is purely traditional and different from that of the system in other states. “This type of traditional landholding system has been protected under Article 371 (A) of the Constitution,” the DC said.

Chutso said the foothills of the Naga hills were very fertile and suitable for cultivation of tea. The British India government forcefully surveyed the entire foothill areas belonging to the Nagas without the consent of the then SDO (civil), Mokokchung sub-division and Sivasagar district and the then deputy commissioner of Kohima. “Therefore, the people of Naga Hills consider the 1925 survey as void and illegal by nature,” he said.

The deputy commissioner said the government of Assam claims that the 1925 survey line is the constitutional boundary between Assam and Nagaland, whereas it was considered void by the Nagas.

He said in June 1947, the government of British India had delegated the then Assam governor, Sir Akbar Hyder Ali, to settle the boundary issue since the 1925 survey had reduced the geographical areas of the two Naga Hills districts.

“In this regard, Hyder Ali came to Kohima and had meetings with the Naga National Council from June 27 to 29, 1947. An agreement, popularly known as the 9-Point Hyder Ali Agreement, was formed. Under Article 6 of the agreement, it has been stated that the present administrative divisions should be modified as, (i) to bring back into Naga Hills district all the forest transferred to Sivasagar and Nowgong district in the past and (ii) to bring under one unified administrative unit as far as possible of all Nagas.”

He said all the areas included would be within the present proposed agreement. “No area should be transferred out of the Naga hills without the consent of the Naga National Council,” states the agreement.