Mhathung Yanthan
Mhathung Yanthan. Image credit - Twitter

The United Naga Tribes Association of Border Areas (UNTABA) said it was appalled by the request of Nagaland MLA Mhathung Yanthan to the villagers in the border areas to maintain peace.

Yanthan is the adviser to the border affairs department of the Nagaland government.

He made the request during his recent visit to Indisen and Rilan areas along the Assam-Nagaland border.

The present intricacies in and around Indisen and Rilan villages are nothing but the “undoing of the Nagaland government”, UNTABA chairman Hukavi T. Yeputhomi and general secretary Imsumongba Pongen said in a release on Monday.

Also read: Naga villagers urged to maintain cordial relations with Assam police

The association sought to point out that Nagaland, the 16th state under the Union of India, is the only state that has no clear-cut boundary demarcation to date in the entire country.

It said starting from the chief ministership of P. Shilu Ao in the 60s and Dr Hokshe Sema in the early 70s, the state government had initiated appropriate steps demanding the implementation of the 16th Point Agreement (Point 12 and 13) which resulted in the formation of Sundaram Commission.

The Commission submitted its findings in 1971 on the basis of which an “Interim Agreement” between the governments of Nagaland and Assam in 1973 was signed.

The basic idea of this agreement was to identify the historical, geographical and political rights of the Naga people, the association said.

In accordance with this, the association said, the governments of India and Assam had agreed that the state of Nagaland did not have a definite boundary demarcation to date.

That prompted the Assam government to file a civil suit against the Union ministry of home affairs, Election Commission of India and the Nagaland government in 1988, which is famously called “Civil Suit No. 2 of 1988”, in the Supreme Court.

“This means the boundary issue between Assam and Nagaland is subjudice as of now,” it added.

On the recent happenings in and around Indisen and Rilan villages, the association alleged the Assam forest department had been trying to erect reserved forests posts without inviting the Nagaland forest department.

“Any pillar or post that may be erected by the Department of Forest of Assam can never be the boundary line between the two states until and unless the government of Assam implement the Interim Agreement of 1973 and 1979,” it said.

As a plaintiff, the Nagaland government has been consistently insisting that 4,974.16 square miles or an equivalent of 12, 883.07 square kilometres are still lying under the “illegal occupation” of Assam.

The association observed it is very unfortunate for the adviser to the border affairs to say that the villagers should maintain peace and tranquillity instead of insisting on the Naga people’s rights over their land.

The association strongly urged the Nagaland government to check its perspective and be consistent on the rights of Naga people over their land.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com