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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

East Nagaland to abstain from voting over Centre's failure on Frontier Nagaland Territory promise

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of seven tribes from six eastern Nagaland districts, had conveyed the “collective decision” of the people to abstain from the polls in a three-page letter to the chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 03.04.24, 10:27 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The people of eastern Nagaland have apprised the Election Commission of India of their decision to abstain from participating in the upcoming general elections because of the Centre’s “failure” to settle the creation of the Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) before the announcement of the polls.

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of seven tribes from six eastern Nagaland districts, had conveyed the “collective decision” of the people to abstain from the polls in a three-page letter to the chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar through the state’s chief electoral officer on Monday. Nagaland has 16 districts.

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The ENPO letter, which dealt at length with the reasons on which the decision to stay away from the polls was taken, said the people of eastern Nagaland under the aegis of the ENPO had on March 19 “reaffirmed its commitment” to February 23, 2024, Chenmoho Resolution which states “not to participate in any central and state election and all citizen of Eastern Nagaland shall refrain from casting (their) vote”. Chenmoho is a village in Mon district in eastern Nagaland.

It was further resolved on March 19 not to participate in any election “against the failure to settle the creation of Frontier Nagaland Territory as offered and assured by the MHA on December 7, 2023, i.e, to be settled before the announcement of the MCC (model code of conduct) to the Lok Sabha 2024 by the Election Commission of India”.

The model code of conduct for the upcoming polls kicked in on March 16. Nagaland has one Lok Sabha seat which goes to the polls on April 19.

“However, despite numerous reminders through letters and mass public rallies, the MHA turned its deaf ear and finally MCC was announced by the ECI — which is why, the Eastern Nagaland populace feels compelled to take this course of action as a means of expressing our collective discontentment,” the ENPO letter stated, adding the decision to abstain from Central and state electoral process “is not taken lightly” because it “reflects the sentiments and aspirations” of the people of Eastern Nagaland.

A senior ENPO leader told The Telegraph on Tuesday that the FNT is a “unique arrangement under Nagaland state with separate legislative, executive and financial autonomy under Article 371 (A)”.

Article 371A of the Constitution states that no act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland in respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, the Naga customary law and procedure, the administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga customary law, and the ownership and transfer of land and its resources, unless the Nagaland Legislative Assembly decides otherwise by a resolution.

The letter was sent following the March 30 joint plea by the Nagaland cabinet, headed by Neiphiu Rio and members of the Eastern Nagaland Legislative Union (ENLU).

The ENPO “not to abstain” from the April 19 polls “but to participate in the elections and complete our democratic duty for the greater benefit of the region and its constituents”.

The ENPO has been demanding a separate state comprising the six districts owing to “neglect” of the area over the years. The demand was first raised in 2010. The ENLU has 20 MLAs representing eastern Nagaland.

“It is a principled stance taken within the framework of the ‘Constitution of India’ aimed at drawing attention to the legitimate grievances and aspirations of the Eastern Nagaland people,” the ENPO said.

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