New Delhi : As a follow-up of the crucial meeting held by Home Minister Amit Shah with Naga leaders from the Tuensang-Mon region seeking a separate state, the Centre has constituted a three-member panel.
Sources informed the ‘Organiser’ that the team would also visit the hamlet Pangsha in remote areas far from the Myanmar border.
A K Mishra, peace emissary at the Naga peace talks, will head the panel, sources said, adding two other members, Mandeep Singh Tuli, Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau and A K Dhyani, Director of North East Division, Ministry of Home Affairs.
The central team will visit the Tuensang-Mon region, called Eastern Nagaland, between December 16 and 18.
The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) leaders who held the meeting with Home Minister Shah in Delhi on December 6 appreciated the central government’s quick response in setting up the panel.
At the meeting, it was stated that the committee would be set up by December 15, but in this case, the panel has been set up well in advance, and even dates for their visit have been finalised, they say.
“This is a welcome move, and we also appreciate that the Centre seems to have done some homework already on ENPO and our demand for a separate state,” an ENPO leader said.
The seven tribes from the region – Konyaks, Sangtams, Changs, Phoms, Khiamniungans, Yimchungrus and Tikhirs have stayed away from this year’s state government-sponsored annual tourism extravaganza of Hornbill Festival hosted in the state capital.
Eastern Nagaland comprises six districts – Tuensang, Mon, Shamatore, Longleng, Noklak and Kiphire.
Mr Amit Shah held the crucial meeting with ENPO leaders on December 6 in the presence of sitting BJP MP (Rajya Sabha), S Phangnon Konyak and two former MPs, Asungba Sangtam and Wangyuh Konyak.
Mishra’s presence in the meeting also made it amply clear that the Home Ministry understood very well the intricacies of the ongoing peace discussions with the NNPG and the NSCN-IM and how all these are inter-linked.
A delegation of NNPG led by N Kitovi Zhimomi met Mishra in the national capital on December 8 to fine-tune a possible draft for a final peace pact.
Mishra reportedly has lately adopted a ‘more crystal clear’ stance vis-a-vis his interaction with the stakeholders. The Centre has categorically rejected the demands for a separate Naga flag and Constitution as articulated by the NSCN-IM.
Surveys in the 1990s had revealed that along the entire eastern belt of Nagaland (encompassing the six districts) runs a rich vein of coal, limestone, nickel, marble, cobalt and magnite.
But most of these have yet to be tapped for many reasons.
The people from the region have grievances about not being appropriately treated by mainstream Nagaland.
The charge is, however, denied by mainstream politicians.
Tuensang-Mon region had joined Nagaland state in the 1960s when the 16 Point Agreement was inked between Naga public leaders under the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) and the Government of India.
No leader from the region could become Chief Minister, while Chongshen Chang (from Tuensang district) became deputy Chief Minister in 1990 under the ministry headed by K L Chishi.
As the Pradesh Congress chief Chingwang Konyak had missed chief ministership in 1993 when he lost assembly polls from Watching, he was later not given a ticket for the Tehok assembly seat when P V Narasimha Rao was Congress president and Sushilkumar Shinde was AICC general secretary in-charge Nagaland.
Chingwang protested, resigned as Pradesh chief, and subsequently quit Congress and, for some time, joined the Indira Congress (Tiwari) group led by N D Tiwari and Arjun Singh.
Incidentally, Chingwang now heads the NDPP — the political party of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who runs an opposition-less NDPP-BJP-NPF regime.
According to clause 10 (b) of the 16 Point (or Statehood) Agreement, there was a provision for setting up a Regional Council with elected representatives from all the tribes, and the Governor may nominate representatives to the Regional Council. It was also stated that the “Regional Council will elect members of the Naga Legislative Assembly”.
The demand for a separate state [Frontier Nagaland’ comprising Eastern Nagaland had gained momentum when the NSCN-IM negotiated with the Government of India for the ‘unification of all Naga contiguous areas. Nagas reside in parts of Myanmar and states such as Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre has earlier ruled out possibilities of redrawing the boundaries of these three northeastern states.
The Nagas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have lately supported the initiatives of the umbrella organisation NNPG to resolve the Naga issue with the government of India through dialogues and discussions.