Kohima, September 2: The Eastern Sumis have taken strong exception to Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO) and State Government’s apathy towards them in all aspects.
Addressing a press conference this evening at Hotel Japfu after meeting Governor RN Ravi and submitting a memorandum in regards to exclusion of Sumi tribe in ENPO’s demand for “Frontier Nagaland”, officials of Eastern Sumi Hoho (ESH) demanded to know why they should be excluded when they were also pioneers of Tuensang and Kiphire districts. They said despite clarification being sought from the ENPO on why Sumi tribe of two districts is not being taken into confidence in all issues including demand for Frontier Nagaland State.
A senior member of ESH, Zhevihe Sumi said they will neither support the demand for Frontier Nagaland nor go against it till the matter is settled with the ENPO, adding that Sumi people have been marginalized notwithstanding that Sumis are also a major tribe inhabiting the two districts.
There are 11 Sumi villages and another 11 villages where Sumis are co-inhabiting with other tribes.
Zhevihe said during the time of Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA) Sumis were the second largest tribe after Konyak and they were one of the pioneers of Tuensang and Kiphire. But he regretted that the other six tribes have overlooked the contributions of Sumi people and now it has come to a stage where they are marginalized socially and developmentally.
He said Sumi people took active participation in the formation of organization like Tuensang District Students’ Federation (TDSF) and other social organizations.
Highlighting the contribution of Sumis in the two districts, the former president of All Sumi Students’ Union (ASSU), Zhevihe said Kiphire district was born out of Memorandum of Understanding signed between the three tribes – Sumi, Sangtam and Yimchunger.
He lamented that Sumis were never reflected in the Government’s policies and programmes which amounts to discrimination and marginalization of Sumi tribe in the two districts. He said the existence of Sumis in the two districts has been threatened by the indifferent attitude of the ENPO and the State Government.
Former President of ESH and now Advisor of the Hoho, Hokheto Sumi said they are neither against nor for Frontier Nagaland but against marginalizing Sumis in the two districts. “We were never taken into confidence on Frontier Nagaland,” he said. He asked why the ENPO is demanding for Frontier Nagaland exclusively for six tribes when there are seven tribes. He said they have submitted a memorandum to the Governor to let the Government of India know the ground realities.
The ESH in the meantime said there is no question of ESH getting affiliated to ENPO as Sumis are also pioneers of Tuensang and Kiphire districts. They said Governor Ravi has assured them to forward the matter to the Union Government.
In the memorandum, the ESH stated that the existence of Sumi people has been threatened consequent to the ongoing ENPO’s demand for Frontier Nagaland and the recent Government of India’s invitation of ENPO for talks on August 13 last. It further stated that ENPO has been projecting the proposed Frontier Nagaland as belonging only to six tribes while mischievously excluding Sumi tribe which is one of the major tribes in Kiphire district.
“Sumi tribe’s prominent presence in Eastern Nagaland since time immemorial is not only a historical fact but encompass both political and social scenario from the time the region was un-administered area and continued under the Tuensang Frontier Division of the then Northeastern Frontier Area (NEFA 1945-1956) administration, Naga Hills Tuensang Area (1957-1962) under Tuensang district and till date,” the memorandum stated.
It stated that in perspective Sumi tribe had played a major role in the preparations and events leading to the establishment of Tuensang headquarters in 1947 and Kiphire town in 1952. Also Sumis were also members of regional council where N. Zhetovi Sema was elected RCM as Sumi representative in Tuensang district in 1964 and re-elected in 1969.
“ESH has been having series of talks with the ENPO ever since it started excluding Sumi tribe in the sharing of privileges and benefits and that several requests were made to the ENPO for a joint meeting with officials of the six tribes for clarification which was never positively reciprocated.
“On the record ESH hereby clarifies its stance that it is not for or against the demand for Frontier Nagaland by ENPO, but rather strongly object to the exclusion of the Sumi tribe as one the constituent tribes along with 6 tribes in the proposal by virtue of their ancestral land and population census having included in the Frontier Nagaland topography and demography. ENPO does not have the right to use Sumi land and the Sumi population census in the proposed Frontier Nagaland map while discarding the legitimacy of the tribe and treating them as non-entity in their own land which tantamount to gross violation of human rights,” the ESH stated.
The ESH demanded that if Sumi tribe is not included in the proposed Frontier Nagaland than their ancestral land and population should be excluded and initiate re-organization of the areas inhabited by Sumi tribe in Eastern Nagaland including arrangements, as may necessary, in consultation with the concurrence of the ESH.
In the press conference president of ESH, Vikato Yeptho and general secretary Z Robert Heeto were also present. (Page News Service)