NEW DELHI, May 17 (Vision Communications): The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation has asked the Centre to hold a high level meeting between the leaders of ENPO and the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to “discuss the long-pending issues of the Eastern Nagaland.”
The president Pongom Khiamniungan, general secretary Toshi Wungtung and the Students’ Federation president Hawang Konyak met the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and other Government officials recently in New Delhi and made this demand.
The ENPO delegation told the Vision Communications that Chidambaram has “agreed with all our demands but told us not to be impatient and not to disrupt the pre-election preparation which is likely to begin soon for the next assembly elections, slated for March, 2012.”
Talking to the Vision Communications the ENPO president said that “We are exploited by the successive state governments as well as by the Centre. The day Nagaland attained statehood, our tribes were taken to Kohima for dance and other cultural functions while on the same night over 2,000 appointment letters were distributed to other major tribes. Discrimination has begun from that day itself. And even today it is continuing.”
The president Khiamniungan continued, “Since 16-point agreement was signed and the statehood was celebrated, we the six tribes, Chang, Phom, Konyak, Sangtam, Khiamniungan and Yimchunger belonging to Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire, Longlend districts and two subdivisions Noklak and Shamator were marginalised politically, socially and economically. Out of the 72000, class-I and class-II gazetted officers in Nagaland, we the six tribes have only 642 officers. Of them 519 are regular and the remaining officers are adhoc despite the fact that we the Nagas in these four districts and two subdivisions together constitutes about 50 per cent of the total population, Konyak being the largest tribe in the state. In fact, out of over two lakh state government employees in the state, we cover a mere three per cent which itself is a shame for the rulers.”
The ENPO president justified his statement by revealing official figure. Of the 72,000 odd gazetted officers, 30,000 belong to Ao tribe, followed by Angami, Sema and Lotha together about 40,000 and the Konyak only 250, Sangtam tribe 185, Phom tribe 88, Chang tribe 55, Khiamniungan tribe 53 and Yimchunger tribe only 45.
The president of the Students Federation Hawang Konyak described the educational scenario as “below the par.” The entire ENPO area has only five colleges and few Higher Secondary schools. Last year about 843 students in ENPO area passed Matriculation examination, but 250 students could be accommodated in the existing colleges. Remaining few could go outside due to financial constraints. Rest are looking for some trade to survive. This kind of apathy and lack of basic amenities give rise to secessionist tendencies among the youth,” he cautioned.
The General Secretary Wungtung pointed out that the most deplorable health related facilities are available in the Eastern Nagaland area. Mon has a 50-bedded Government Health centre and Tuensang has a 100-bedded Government Health centre with hardly any facilities available. Medicines are to be procured from outside. If anybody fall sick in Khipire, he or she has to be sent to Kohima by transport driving for ten hours. We do not have any emergency Helicopter service or ambulance available in this most neglected region.”
Lamenting the poor communication and the lack of power supply in the entire Eastern Nagaland region, Wungtung revealed that “we have Likimro hydel power project which generates 25 megawatt power everyday and it is located in Khipire district. But the entire power is supplied to the Ao inhabited Makokchung district. We remain as silent spectators and live in darkness.”
On the issue of peace talks, both the president and the general secretary asserted, “our demand is nothing to do with the ongoing peace talks and ceasefire agreement signed with different NSCN groups. We support the peace talks and want a solution to the Naga issue. But our issue is different.”
The president further added that the ENPO leadership has already submitted a detailed memorandum to the Prime Minister on 25th November, 2010 pleading for a “full-fledged state with special status and provisions to the people of Eastern Nagaland.”
The ENPO president said that “the memorandum was substantiated and based on popular grass root resolution and mandate encompassing every Village Councils (Gram Panchayats) and Tribal Councils of Eastern Nagaland. Now it remains to be seen how the Centre and the Niephieu Rio Government handles the pressure and resolve the sensitive issue.