India: Manipur, Assam, Arunachal apprehensive over Naga pact

SUMIR KARMAKAR, November 8, 2019

Soldiers stand guard on a street in Kohima, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland.

Apprehension is rising in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam over the Centre’s “delay” in disclosing the “breakthrough” it reached with Naga groups on October 31.

Protest is underway in Manipur as the groups representing Meitei community fear that the Centre could meet Naga groups’ demand for “integration” of Naga dominated areas in the three states, while Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday met Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi to convey the fear and worry some parts of the state is witnessing over the Naga accord.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union has threatened to launch an agitation against any step to affect “territorial intergrity” or administrative interference into the areas dominated by Nagas in the state in the name of signing an accord.

This, despite Union Home Ministry’s reiteration that stakeholders in the three states would be consulted before finalising the agreement with Naga groups.

“Mere assurance will serve no purpose and we demand the Centre to immediately disclose the contents of the agreement—be it the framework agreement it signed with NSCN (IM) in 2015 or the one reportedly agreed with the Naga groups on October 31. People in Manipur are worried over the possible impact of the agreement. If there is nothing against our state in the agreements, why is the Centre not making the 2015 agreement public even yet?” asked a leader of Co-ordination Committee for Integrity of Manipur, an umbrella body of five civil society groups, leading an agitation against possible fallout of Naga pact.

They are worried over Naga groups’ demand for a “Greater Nagalim” that seeks a Naga homeland comprising Nagaland and Naga dominated areas in contagious areas mainly in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. There are at least three Naga dominated districts each in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Similarly, at least two districts in Assam has Naga population. Sources said the Centre and Naga groups including NSCN-IM and Naga National Political Group reached “some sort of arrangement” over their demand for separate flag, Constitution and integration of Naga dominated areas but kept it under wraps fearing backlash in the three states.

A statement issued by Sonowal’s office on Thursday evening said the chief minister requested Shah to take into consideration the interests of the people of Assam while going for any accord. “The home minister assured the chief minister that nothing would be done which goes against interest of the state and its people,” it said.

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