Fresh fears in NE over territory getting ceded to Greater Nagalim

UTPAL PARASHAR GUWAHATI, 25th Oct: There are fresh fears in a few northeast states that Naga-inhabited areas in their territory could be ceded to Greater Nagalim as peace talks have picked up pace and speculations about a final solution to the six-decade-old issue have been swirling.

Naga rebel groups have been demanding the creation of a Greater Nagalim comprising contiguous Naga-inhabited areas in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and parts of Myanmar bordering India.

Despite assurances from the Centre that no such decision was taken while signing the framework agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) in 2015, apprehensions continue as details of the agreement are yet to be made public.

NSCN-IM’s demand for Greater Nagalim encompasses nearly 1,20,000 sq km - more than seven times Nagaland’s 16,527 sq km area. Significantly, the demand has been endorsed five times till date by Nagaland assembly between 1964 and 2015.

Centre’s chief interlocutor for the Naga talks RN Ravi on Monday held a meeting, for the first time in Nagaland, with six rebel outfits, other than NSCN-IM, leading to speculations that a final agreement could happen soon.

In recent weeks, chief ministers of BJP-ruled Assam and Manipur have reiterated no part of their territories would be compromised but organisations in these states are also opposing the creation of any pan-Naga cultural or social body covering all Naga-inhabited areas.

“We welcome a final solution to the Naga issue but we are opposed to ceding any part of Manipur to Great Nagalim or creation of any organisation, be it cultural, social or any other form, which extends beyond Nagaland,” Johnson Elangbam president of United Committee Manipur (UCM), a civil society organisation, told the Hindustan Times.

The hill districts in Manipur, which are inhabited by over a half a dozen Naga tribes, are part of the Greater Nagalim envisaged by NSCN-IM and other Naga groups.

“The Centre should not succumb indirectly to Naga demands and create a body which covers Naga people living in Manipur.

Manipuris won’t tolerate such a thing and it will lead to major unrest,” said Johnson.

Similar anxiety also prevails in Assam, where Nagas reside in districts bordering Nagaland.

“We have nothing against the Naga issue getting resolved, but it should not be at the cost of Assam’s integrity,” said Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary of All Assam Students Union (AASU), the state’s biggest students’ organisation.

He said AASU won’t accept the formation of any authority or organisation, which covers Nagas residing outside Nagaland.

“There is fear that such a body could turn into a political platform in future. We have no issues if the Assam government wants to do something for Nagas residing in our state, but there should be no control of that from Nagaland,” Gogoi stressed.

“All this confusion is prevailing because the Centre is yet to make details of the framework agreement with NSCN-IM public. In a democracy, the public has every right to know contents of such a major document. If it is shrouded in mystery, there would be no lasting solution to the Naga issue,” he added.


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