GUWAHATI: As the Centre inches closer towards resolving the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency issue, panic has set in among neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh over the Naga insurgents’ demand for the creation of “Greater Nagaland”.
The Isak-Muivah faction of major Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) envisages a unified Naga homeland by integrating the Naga-inhabited areas of the three neighbouring states where the Nagas have a sizeable population. The fear among people in the three states is about losing land for the sake of Greater Nagaland.
As a prelude to settling the issue, the Centre had in 2015 signed the “Framework Agreement” with the NSCN-IM. Neither of them has yet spelled out the pact’s contents but there has always been a suspicion in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal that they might be forced to part away with their land.
Buzz that the Centre is on the verge of resolving the Naga issue gathered momentum following Centre’s interlocutor RN Ravi’s recent closed-door meetings with six Naga insurgent groups and various Naga organisations in Nagaland.
Meanwhile, strengthening the suspicion about the possible creation of Greater Nagaland, the BJP in Assam indicated that the state might have to part with its land. The party’s Assam unit chief Ranjit Das said, “There is a possibility that some disputed areas along the Assam-Nagaland border will enter Greater Nagaland”.
The two states are embroiled in a bitter land dispute and if what Das indicated becomes a reality, Assam will lose large swathes of its land. The comments of Das come days after chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal asserted that the Naga pact would not hurt Assam’s interests in any manner.
The state’s BJP-led government is under pressure from various organisations which made it amply clear that they would not tolerate the state giving away its land to fulfil the Naga design.
Manipur will be hit hard in case its boundary is to be redrawn. More than 70 percent of its land belongs to the Nagas.
Ahead of Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured the people of Manipur that the state’s territorial interests would remain protected. But the state’s BJP-led government is cautious.
Chief minister N Biren Singh held an all-party meeting on Saturday where discussions were held on the possible impact of Naga talks on Manipur’s territorial integrity. The political parties resolved to urge the Centre to make sure that the state’s territorial integrity is not compromised.