Nagaland`s arrogance

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The recent incident at Jessami in Ukhrul District once again brings to the fore the issue of several boundary disputes with Nagaland. The state of Nagaland has several boundary disputes with other states as well. The long standing border dispute at Merapani with Assam is yet to find a solution and there are several intrusions by Nagaland state forces in Assam territory and it is going to figure in talks with ULFA. The Sundaram Committee of 1972 that sought to resolve the Assam Nagaland border dispute had been rejected by Nagaland and the confrontation has seen the involvement of underground Naga groups. Nagaland had been accused of encroaching 662.4 sq km of land in Assam territory. Not only that, Naga groups specially the NSCN-IM is demanding a Greater Nagaland with territory from Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Between Manipur and Nagaland, there are several border disputes from Senapati to Ukhrul stretch. To mention a few there are disputes in the Dzuko valley, Mao, near Tungjoy at Lai village in Senapati District and Jessami in Ukhrul District. The most recent incident at Jessami is a result of the boundary dispute between villagers of Jessami and Mellory village in neighbouring state Nagaland. Earlier in another incident, Nagaland police had set up a post for its armed police personnel and constructed a rest house and fishermen`s rest centre. Jessami villagers say, there has been several intrusions by Nagaland police. In the Wednesday incident, around 400 Mellory villagers armed with 303 rifles and sticks came into the Manipur side at round 10:30am and took the six people including VDF personnel. But the timely intervention of the local MLA led in the release of the six persons after a severe beating. Such intrusion and and kidnapping is the result of inaction on the part of the Manipur Government. If the state government had acted firmly on these border disputes Nagaland Police or for the matter villagers of Nagaland would not have had the audacity to act like hooligans. The Manipur villagers are not amused with the way the state government is dealing with the situation. Yes, the state Chief Secretary talked to his Nagaland counterpart on the incident and was able to secure the release of the six people. But, reactive action is not enough. Manipur government has to play a pro-active role towards the solution of the various disputes to soothe hurt feelings of the Manipur villagers. What has the state government done with regard to the border dispute at Dzuko valley? Nagaland has been claiming the valley as their territory and it has even made it a tourist spot with good roads reaching right upto the valley, while Manipur has done little to improve connectivity in the areas. Concerned environmentalists had to travel to the valley via Nagaland. It is a shame. Same is the case with the Tungjoy village. Years back, Nagaland Police along with the villagers in Nagaland’s Phek district forcibly pushed out the residents of Tungjoy. A police station was constructed at Khezokhonoma in Nagaland bordering Manipur near Tungjoy. The villagers of the Tungjoy had said that while constructing the approach road the Nagaland police had encroached upon Manipur’s land. The dispute at Tungjoy is about hundred-year-old. Everyone including the state government seems to have forgotten about the dispute regarding Mao hospital. Nagaland had claimed the land on which the hospital is located. These disputes need the serious attention of the state government. The then Nipamacha led government was very firm in dealing with border disputes, but he did not take a pro-active role towards bringing a solution. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was very firm when he dealt with the issue of territorial integrity. But, somehow he chose not to deal with the long-standing border disputes with Nagaland as if it is a separate issue. The issue of territorial integrity and border dispute is interlinked and it should be dealt with in a holistic manner.

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