The apex body representing seven Naga tribes in Eastern Nagaland, Eastern Nagaland Peoples Organisation (ENPO), has supported the Centre’s plan to form an autonomous council comprised of the state’s six districts. This development comes only days after the central government suggested autonomous territorial powers for Nagaland’s six eastern districts to be managed by the ENPO in order to resolve the persistent demand for a separate state, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Since 2010, the ENPO, which represents seven Naga tribes in the six eastern districts of Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire, Longleng, Noklak, and Shamator, has been pursuing a separate Frontier Nagaland state due to alleged discrimination, notably on socio-economic development. Currently, this region has 20 assembly seats out of 60 in Nagaland.
Last year, the demand by ENPO gained momentum and even threatened to boycott the electoral process. Still, after deliberating with all the stakeholders, they decided to relax their earlier stand to abstain from any election process and not boycott the state assembly’s election in February. ENPO stated, “Following the request of the MHA to review the August 26, 2022, resolution of ENPO and its constituent Tribal Bodies and Frontal Organizations to abstain in any election process and the subsequent assurance given by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to ENPO officials on February 2, 2023, the ENPO in due consultation with its constituent Tribal Bodies and Frontal Organizations hereby relaxed the August 26, 2022, resolution with immediate effect”.
Even Union Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the ENPO decision to withdraw its assembly election boycott call, stating that it is an “expression of trust in the Modi government.”
As per ENPO, after a series of discussions since 2015 with the Government of India and the state Government of Nagaland, the GOI proposed the formation of Frontier Naga Territory with autonomous powers. An ENPO leader said, “The proposed autonomy would include legislative, executive and financial powers”.
Earlier this month, ENPO had a meeting with the home ministry team led by AK Mishra. As per reports, ENPO had discussions with its constituent units and with 20 Eastern Nagaland Legislators Union members regarding the Union government’s proposal.
It’s reported that the performance of the new autonomous council will be evaluated after ten years to find out the efficiency of the council in fulfilling the demands of aspirations of Eastern Nagaland.
In a statement on June 27, ENPO said that they are “Also considering the sentiments of our Naga brothers and sisters towards unity and togetherness we have accepted the proposal without insisting on dividing the Nagaland State”.
The statement added, “We stand on the threshold of this dialogue; we hope to move forward courageously with the prayers and blessings of our fellow Nagas to a future where we can be equal contributors to the prosperity of our Naga fraternity”.
Meanwhile, on June 30, the Nagaland State Home Department, through its Principal Secretary, will have a consultative meeting on the provisions of the proposed proposal of the Government of India for the Constitution of an Autonomous Council for the Six Eastern Districts of the State. The meeting will be scheduled at the State Banquet Hall, Kohima.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, along with the Deputy Chief Ministers, Speaker, all the Ministers, MP Lok Sabha, MP Rajya Sabha, Chief Secretary and senior officials of the State Government, will attend the meeting.
Further, the meeting will also be attended by Advisors and MLAs, while it has also requested the Tribal Bodies/Organizations to make it convenient to participate in the meeting.