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Kohima set to stamp out Ashoka

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NISHIT DHOLABHAI   |   Kohima   |   Published 28.06.05, 12:00 AM

Kohima, June 28: The Nagaland government has decided to replace the hallowed Ashoka emblem with one that depicts tribal motifs, including an indigenous species of bison called mithun, and the inscription “Unity Nagaland”.

Confirming the move, V. Sakhrie, the secretary to chief minister Neiphiu Rio, said the government would not be violating the Constitution by opting for its own emblem.

“Actually, states using the Ashoka emblem have to take permission from the central government. Till now there was little awareness regarding this, but like many other states, we will henceforth be using the state’s own symbol, and that is legal,” he said.

States like Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu have their own emblems.

The Nagaland cabinet reportedly took the decision on the emblem last week.

Sakhrie said the Rio government, which supports the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah)’s demand for the integration of all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast, would issue a notification soon on the change of emblem.

Designed by artist Merimvu Duolo, the proposed state emblem has a mithun, the symbol of status and wealth in Naga society, at the centre.

Other traditional Naga motifs like the machete, spear and log drum crowd the small space with a shield as the backdrop.

The words “Unity Nagaland” ? an allusion to the community’s aspiration for an “integrated” homeland ? complete the picture.

Sakhrie, however, said a few changes might be made, especially in the inscription.

The cabinet’s move follows threats from the NSCN (I-M) to walk out of the peace process if Delhi continues to dither on the demand for integration of all Naga-inhabited areas.

On the other hand, Nagaland’s neighbours, mainly Manipur and Assam, have warned of a major conflict if their territories are tampered with to appease the Nagas.

Once the Rio ministry issues a notification on replacing the Ashoka emblem, the national seal will disappear from all government and Assembly stationery.

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