In the light of the Karbi Students’ Association (KSA) making noises against the Naga people and the unfortunate episode of their so-called ‘Economic blockade of Nagaland,’ perhaps it has become pertinent to impart some history lessons lest half-truths and insinuations continue to vitiate the atmosphere and break down the cordial relations Nagas have enjoyed with the Assamese people since time immemorial.
First of all, prior to the declaration of Indian independence, Naga people had no boundary dispute with any communities.
The NNC, in order to retrieve the areas under Naga Hills District created in 1866 and the total areas covered under it as notified in 1875, negotiated with the members of the then Constituent Assembly of India, Sir Akbar Ali Hydari and Gopinath Bodoloi, the then Governor and the Premier of Assam Province in June 27 to 29, 1947, at Kohima and brought about a political agreement called ‘The 9 Point Agreement.’ Some of the key points are;
i) To bring back into the Naga Hills District all the Reserved Forests transferred to Sibsagar and Nowgong Districts in the past (those days Golaghat and Jorhat were small townships under Nowgong and Sibsagar) and ii) To bring under one unified administrative unit, as far as possible, all the Naga inhabited areas.
During the course of history, Naga areas covering an area of 4,974.16 square miles or an equivalent of 12,883.03 square kilometres was transferred out without the consent of the Naga people.
Lists of transferred Reserved Forests are:
Nambor RF, Upper Daigurung RF, Lower Daigurung RF, Kaliani RF, Mikir RF, Diphu RF, Rengma RF, Daldali RF, Dhansiri RF, Langting Mupa RF, Lumding RF, Desema RF, Kaki RF, Geleki RF, Tiru RF, Kakadanga RF, Desoi Valley RF, Desoi RF and Doyang RF.
However, the Government of India failed to fulfill the political agreement made with the Naga people prompting the NNC to conduct voluntary Plebiscite on 16 May 1951 with the phrase ‘Urra Uvie’ or ‘our land belongs to us’.
In short, the restoration of historical, ancestral and traditional Naga territories was the beginning of the Naga national movement.
Later on, the Government of India appointed an Independent Adviser K.V.K. Sundaram in August 1971 to oversee the boundary disputes.
The leaders of Mikir Hills presented a memorandum to the Adviser on 21/11/72 expressing the wishes of the people to join Nagaland. The KSA may be aware that the Karbi people were known as Mikirs then.
On 12th April 1972, the President of Mikir Hills Nationalist Organisation Shri Sarsing Terang submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Assam and Nagaland Shri BK Nehru expressing the desire of the Mikir people to join Nagaland considering this as the ‘simplest, best and final solution (sic)’ for the preservation and protection of their ‘lost identity through gradual process of assimilation and Assamisation (sic)’.
On June 12th 1972, in a joint meeting of the leaders of different political organizations namely Karbi-Riche-A-Darban, the Progressive Party of Mikir Hills, the Mikir Hills Youth Congress Committee and the Karbi Students’ Association passed a resolution in support of the Mikir Hills Nationalist Organisation to the effect that they would jointly and unitedly fight for the liberation of the Mikir people.
Accordingly, on 21st June 1972, Sarsing Terang submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi urging the Government of India for ‘Integration of Mikir Hills with Nagaland’ expressing this as the only hope for preservation of and protection of ‘identity language; social customs and tradition,…land, forests’ and also ‘a chance for realization of the hopes and dreams’ of the Mikir people.’
On the issue of the move by the Mikir Hills for joining Nagaland, the then CM Hokishe Sema made a statement in the Nagaland Assembly saying ‘we are happy to welcome this decision’ and praised this move as ‘in the right direction’ and made assurance as ‘we would assure them that under the provision of Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India, all rights and facilities of the Mikir people will be protected’.
Thus, the Mikir’s move to join Nagaland state was based on the legitimate ground that most of present-day Karbi Anglong and parts of Assam historically belonged to the Naga people, particularly the Rengmas. The Mikirs’ felt that their destiny was best secured if Mikir Hills became a contiguous part of Nagaland protected by Article 371 A.
Therefore, the KSA trying to re-write history at this juncture is futile. It is easy to whip up false narratives for dubious reasons but at the end of the day it’s the written records which will speak for itself. The KSA should not allow itself to be misguided by nefarious elements but as a student body should act responsibly and be a bridge during these troubled times.
On the purported move of launching an economic blockade by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) against the alleged encroachment at Desoi Valley by the Naga people, it may be further reminded that the historical and traditional Assam-Naga boundary lies at Dhodar Ali/Naga Bund (now Dhodar Ali Road) near Golaghat stretching upwards to the tri-junction of the boundary of Assam-Nagaland-Arunachal Pradesh. History can never be altered.
On these issues, the UNTABA (United Naga Tribes Association on Border Areas) had submitted a Representation to the Prime Minister of India on 02/03/2016 and the copies have been made available to all the Negotiating parties including the NSCN/GPRN, WC/NNPG and the Interlocutor RN Ravi on various occasions. RN Ravi assured UNTABA that an ‘Independent and empowered Boundary Commission’ shall be constituted based on the Political settlement. It is hoped that the negotiating parties shall keep this perspective in mind while settling the Naga issue.
The UNTABA reiterates that until and unless a complete restoration of Naga lands is fulfilled, there can be no final Indo-Naga political solution.
Hukavi T Yepthomi
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