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The state of Nagaland – the 16th state in the Indian Union - was created in 1963. Soon after that, the Nagas started an armed movement for an independent, sovereign Nagaland, outside of the Indian constitution. Thousand died in the bloody battle between the separatists and the Indian army, before the two parties agreed on a ceasefire. And now, here is a new, dramatic development taking place in Nagaland: Demand for a separate statehood.
After decades of ambush, encounter and combing operations, there is finally some peace in Nagaland; a ceasefire is on between the government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Isaac Muivah group (NSCN –IM)
NSCN – the all powerful Naga separatist group. Yet, angry slogans are being heard on the streets of Nagaland now, this time for a new state called Frontier Nagaland.
On Tuesday, there was a statewide rally, organized by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO). Their demand: creation of a new state within the current state of Nagaland, consisting of the four districts; Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng.
At Mon – a town at the easternmost part of the state, thousands of people shouted slogans like “Long live ENPO” and “We want Frontier Nagaland.” Some held placards that read “Do not deny our identity, our life,” “Frontier Nagaland must” and “Free us from the bondage.”
This was the second rally of its kind. The first was in January this year. According to ENPO, the need of the separate statehood arises out of the economic gap between the people the frontier districts and those living in other areas.“48 years after statehood, the gap has widened and now we cannot catch up with them,” said Khoiwang Konyak – a leader of the movement.
Now, let us look at the gaps. Civic facilities –including roads, communication, healthcare and education in the eastern part are in pitiable state. But the biggest bone of contention is disparity in employment status. The state has 1,20,000 plus government employees, but the supporters of ENPO say, les than 20%are from the frontier districts.
The party is determined to achieve its goal of statehood. In a memorandum submitted to the government yesterday, the party says the demand “is not against any political party, leadership, tribes/community, groups/factions or movement etc.”
But the question is, how kindly will the big brother NSCN take this demand? For decades, NSCN has been the unanimous leader of all Nagas, caller of all shots (including the literal ones), decider of the territory of its dream independent ’greater Nagaland’. How is it going to react to the demand of the partition of the state and shift in the focus of the Nagas from independent Nagaland to a separate state? How does this development fit into NSCN’s struggle for ’de-Indianization?’
That is certainly something to watch out for.