As Nagaland awaits the finalisation of the Naga peace accord, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has agreed to discuss the demands of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), an apex body of six Naga tribes, asking for a separate state under the Constitution. A tripartite dialogue was held between the ENPO, Nagaland government and MHA under the chairmanship of special secretary (internal security) last month, officials said.
In 2014, the government appointed a former Intelligence Bureau officer R N Ravi as the Naga interlocutor to hold discussions with all the stakeholders, led by the NSCN-IM. However, after more than four years and several rounds of talks, the Centre is yet to come up with a peace accord. MHA officials said that they had only agreed to “discuss the demands” of ENPO and no final decision has been taken while sources said the move may lead to division of State as the ENPO demands a “Frontier Nagaland”.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, former ENPO president Khoiwang Konyak said, “Our demands and political issues are different from other Naga groups, including NSCN-IM, and are primarily concerned with six tribes namely Chang, Konyak, Khiamniungan, Phom, Sangtam and Yimchunger.”
MHA decision may delay Naga accord
WHILE THE Naga framework agreement, signed in 2015, is yet to be formalised, six tribes from eastern Nagaland under the aegis of ENPO have stepped up the long-pending demand for separate statehood under the Constitution. The peace accord that was to be finalised with Naga groups will now have to wait with the Centre agreeing to discuss ENPO’s demand for a separate state.
In September, the ENPO rejected the Centre’s development package, cleared by the MHA, saying that it cannot be accepted in lieu of the demand for “Frontier Nagaland”. ENPO recently held three rounds of bilateral discussions with the state government while multiple rounds of talks have been held between the Centre, State and ENPO, officials said.
ENPO has been demanding the creation of a separate state comprising the four eastern districts of Tuensang, Mon, Longleng and Kiphire for over a decade now. The organisation had first submitted a memorandum to then PM Manmohan Singh on November 25, 2010 which was referred by the Centre to the state government for its views. Officials familiar with the development at MHA said that the demand for a separate state may not be feasible but the government may consider giving them autonomous council authority, comprising the four eastern districts of Nagaland.
MHA officials said that ENPO during the tripartite meeting cited provisions of Article 371-A (2) of the Constitution to stress that the eastern districts have a historical background, are comparatively less developed and required immediate attention. The ENPO’s original demand is for a separate state other than a separate assembly, administration, High Court and capital.