Eastern Nagaland residents have mixed reactions on autonomous body
ENPO leaders

Kohima: Unless things go catastrophically wrong, we are on course for legislative elections in eastern Nagaland. But when the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO) called off its decision to boycott elections following a “mutual agreement” with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), it left some eastern Nagaland residents a tad confused and searching for answers.   

In 2022, the ENPO, the apex body of eastern Nagaland tribes, intensified their protests and announced its decision to abstain from participating in elections till their demands were made. However, the boycott was called off after the Centre gave “assurances” to the ENPO. The ENPO and MHA team headed by advisor AK Mishra mutually agreed to a “Frontier Naga Territory” (an autonomous body) to be implemented after the polls. 

The ‘deal’ must be made public

While several people, especially Eastern Nagaland residents, welcomed the decisions, some were left a little confused. Others even expressed disappointment with the development. “I was hoping that the boycott of the general election would happen till our demands are fulfilled. However, I am not fully aware of why the ENPO leaders agreed to the new agreement of the so-called Autonomous council. I wish that if there was an agreement, the new agreed policy should be made public to avoid misunderstandings. Our wounds would never heal if our demands are not fulfilled today,” Wangyuh Konyak from Mon district said. 

Like him, A Phom from the Longleng district was unsure about the deal made. “I haven’t seen the detailed package yet. But If the fund allocation is under the present Nagaland Government, I don’t think we will see much change to the present scenario. The only way forward is to change the present leaders both in the State and in ENPO areas. We want new leaders who will address the problem in ENPO areas,” he said. 

For another, the demand for a separate state should the only focus. “I support a statehood demand and not an autonomous body, o the recent development is not satisfactory. Our area is in dire need of good road connectivity, better communication services, and infrastructural development on the ground. We need strict monitoring of development projects by the centre and functional technical educational institutions, fully functional medical institutions and hospitals and so on. These can be achieved if we are carved out as a separate state,” said Khamkiumong from the Kiphire district. 

Major milestone

Some believe the latest development is a major milestone for the area. “I appreciate and thank the ENPO team for standing firm to their decision and reaching this level of negotiation talks with the Government of India (GOI). The Frontier Nagaland Autonomous Council, for me, will be very much helpful and will bring developmental work to our area. We can also continue the demand for a separate state till we met our end. I believe whatever decision was taken at this juncture, are wise decisions which will be effective for our area in particular and Nagas in general,” said Pangnyei Konyak from Mon district. 

“I am fully satisfied with the present arrangements and support it,” said one from the Tuensang district. 

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