Nagaland: Southern Angami Body lifts movement ban on Mao Nagas
President of the Southern Angami Public Organization, Kevipodi Sophie

Kohima: After three months, the Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO) announced its decision to lift the ban on entry of Mao Nagas within its jurisdiction, as per the advice of the Angami Public Organization (APO), apex tribal body of the Angami Nagas. 

An update from SAPO on Monday said that the restriction was imposed in protest against the unfair occupation of the Manipur Government’s Armed Forces and the imposition of CrPC 144 within the heart of Kezoltsa, a disputed area. 

SAPO alleged that the move was done with the deliberate intention to construct roads and carry out other development activities, which compelled the apex body of the Southern Angamis to restrict the entry of Mao Nagas within its jurisdiction from December 15 to March 20.

The ban will be lifted from March 21. SAPO informed that the decision was made after an extraordinary meeting was convened by APO on March 17, and attended by executive members, presidents of all frontal organisations, advisory board members and intellectuals. 

During the meeting, it was resolved that APO will take over the contentious matter at hand.

“The interference of Manipur Government, conniving with Mao Council, was reacted in distaste as traditional lands straddle towards each other’s arbitrarily drawn political boundaries. For the record, SAPO never objected to Manipur Government holding its Cherry Blossom Festival, the establishment of a Manipur Government School or other Manipur Government funded projects and developments carried out at Okhro Ikhro which traditionally belongs to Maos, though technically is in Nagaland,” it said. 

It also pointed out that the Nagaland government had awarded 16 jobs to Mao traditional landowners at TB Hospital Khuzama and respected the traditional landowners, and other privileges extended to the community on the basis of brotherhood, in spite of Article 371(A).

SAPO expressed its hope to resolve the existing land dispute traditionally. It informed that SAPO functionaries met with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio who also expressed concern on the issue.

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“SAPO reiterates that redrawing the political boundary of Nagaland or Manipur is not on its agenda,” it added. 

The move by SAPO comes after the Supreme Court of India directed the Union of India to look into a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in connection with the current blockade and quit notice imposed or served by SAPO on the Mao Community of Manipur.

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