Eastern Sumi Hoho (ESH) officials addressing media persons in Kohima on Monday

Kohima: The native Sumi inhabitants of Tuensang and Kiphire districts, under the banner of Eastern Sumi Hoho (ESH), have questioned the exclusion of the tribe in the demand of ‘Frontier Nagaland’ by the Eastern Naga People’s Organisation (ENPO).

Addressing a press conference on Monday, former ESH president S Zhevihe Sumi said that the native Sumi Naga tribe who inhabited the eastern region of Nagaland, as early as 1878, was excluded by the ENPO in their demand for ‘Frontier Nagaland’ (a separate Nagaland).

In a representation submitted to Nagaland governor RN Ravi on Monday, the ESH said that by excluding the Sumi Nagas — one of the major tribes in Kiphire, the proposed Frontier Nagaland projected only six tribes — Sangtam, Yimchunger, Chang, Phom, Khiamniungan and Konyak.

Talking about the deprivation of the “economic packages” of the Sumis in the eastern Nagaland, Zhevihe said that the tribe was deprived of all the privileges and benefits given by the department for underdeveloped areas (DUDA) which oversees developmental activities for the welfare of eastern region saying, “In those privileges in the record of the department, you will find no place where Sumis have been given the opportunities”. Likewise, he cited several incidences with historical references about how the tribe was denied of its privileges.

“What brings us to utter shook is that they (ENPO) exclusively— they so termed the word ‘exclusive’ for six tribes, marginalising the seven to one,” Zhevihe added. It was also informed that out of the 22 villages and towns under the two districts, there are 11 pure Sumi villages in Kiphire.

He added that if the Sumi Nagas cannot be considered as stakeholders, they must be carved out of it as the census and the geographical map includes the Sumis into the region.

While the issue dates back to decades ago, the representation said that a “proposed map of Frontier Nagaland” covering the districts of Mon, Longleng, Kiphire and Tuensang, projecting only six tribes, was submitted to Prime Minister by the ENPO on November 26, 2011. This triggered the native Sumis of the eastern region as the map included Sumi ancestral land even though the Sumis were excluded in the demand.

Alleging the ENPO’s denial in confronting with the ESH, it said that on September 18, 2015, a resolution was passed by the ESH to “protect and safeguard the historical and geographical rights of Sumis and to oppose ENPO’s ‘Frontier Nagaland’ if the tribe is not taken into confidence as stake-holders. Further, it said that a representation was submitted to the chief minister and the state machinery in September 2017 went unattended.

It goes on to say that the sentiments of the Sumi Nagas in Eastern Nagaland were “deeply wounded” with the government of India’s recent invitation to ENPO to discuss on the matter, as reported by EastMojo.

The ESH on Monday submitted a representation to the governor “against the exclusion of Sumi tribe” in the demand of Frontier Nagaland by ENPO and informed media persons that the governor has assured all possibilities of no discrimination.

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