Participants of the walkathon organised by Rengma Selo Zi

Kohima: The demand for a separate district by Nagaland’s Rengma Nagas, predominantly settled in Tseminyu, is once again taking centre stage.

On Tuesday, 73 people covered 53 km on foot as a part of the campaign to demand the creation of Tseminyu as a separate district.

Rengma Selo Zi (RSZ), the apex youth body of the Rengma Naga tribe, organized ‘Tseminyu District Demand Walkathon’ starting off as early as 3 am from Tseminyu, culminating at the solidarity park at state capital Kohima. This comes days after a motor rally was conducted by the RSZ.

“We have chosen to walk 58 km because in 1963, Nagaland attained statehood and this year marks 58 years of statehood. There were 73 participants signifying the 73 long years that have lapsed since the inception of Tseminyu as an administrative unit in 1948,” Kenneth Kath, RSZ president, told EastMojo.

Kath added that the purpose behind organising the walkathon was to implore upon the government to expedite the “long-cherished dream” of the Rengma people to create Tseminyu as a separate district, at the earliest.

He said the walkathon is part of a series of the RSZ flagship events of democratic expression towards furthering and amplifying the aspirations of the Rengma Nagas and demand for a separate Tseminyu district.

“Tseminyu is one of the oldest administrative headquarters in Nagaland. Even after 73 years of setting up an administrative institution, we remain a sub-division, while other bench courts that were set up during 1947 have become district headquarters now,” Kath said.

Saying that the Rengma Nagas are confined in the geographical pocket of Tseminyu (Rengma area), he added, “We feel that it is right time that a new home is created for our people.”

While Tseminyu is exclusively for the indigenous Rengmas and the contributions of the Rengma Nagas have been significant in the Naga National Movement and in integration of Nagaland as a state, Kath hoped that the Nagas in general will sympathise with the Rengma Nagas.  

“We are left alone in between, and we hope we will be given ample opportunity so that we get on par with our people,” he added. 

Through a representation addressed to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio in support of the demand for a district by the Rengma Hoho, the RSZ appreciated the efforts made by the state government for constituting various committees to examine and recommend proposals related to creation or upgradation of new administrative headquarters, as well as creation of new districts in the state.

“The latest committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Commissioner, Nagaland, whereby the deadline for submission of its report expires today. It is pertinent to mention here that the demand for Tseminyu district has not been given due priority despite going under the scanner of several committees in the past,” the RSZ said on Tuesday.

The RSZ said it hopes that timely action will be initiated towards its “justified cause”.

In October this year, the Kohima District Planning and Development Board (DPDB) had also recommended the upgradation of Tseminyu Sub-Division to that of Tseminyu district. The recommendation was forwarded to the state government for consideration.

Angami community extends solidarity

As the 73 participants covered 58 km crossing Angami Naga villages along the way till Kohima, the Angami community showed solidarity and even provided refreshments at certain points.

Kekhrie Pfukha, president of Angami Youth Organization (AYO), the apex youth body of the Angami Naga tribe predominantly settled in Kohima district, told EastMojo, “We extend our full support and are in solidarity with the Rengma people’s demand for the creation of Tseminyü district.”

Pfukha said the Rengmas and the Angamis have lived and survived as peaceful neighbours under one district administration. “Though there is a demand for a separate district, it is our desire that we will be able to survive peacefully as good neighbours in the days to come,” he said, hoping for peaceful coexistence between the two tribes as neighbours.

“There were three districts initially. However, after the creation of the state, more districts were created based on geographical location and culture. The Rengma Nagas are peace-loving citizens. It is high time the government listened to their demands,” Pfukha said.

While acknowledging the Rengma Selo Zi for expressing the rights of its people democratically, he said, “I have not an iota of doubt that the 13th district should and will be Tseminyu district. It’s a sincere desire for the Rengma Nagas to continue contributing their best in any venture. We were, we are and will always be with them when they need us.”

Neivor Rutsa, vice president of the Angami Public Organization (APO), apex tribal body of the Angami Nagas, while extending support to the demand, said, “You are not demanding for any special provision but the demand is something that you rightfully deserve.”

Hundreds gather to show solidarity

Hundreds of people from the Rengma Naga tribe gathered at the solidarity park for a reception programme to welcome the 73 participants who undertook the 15-hour marathon walk.

Civil society organisations from the Angami Naga tribe and the Pochury Naga tribe also joined the reception programme.

Addressing the gathering, Rengma Hoho president Pollem Tep recalled how the demand for the creation of a district in “black and white” began in March 2016 when an appeal was made to the Additional Deputy Commissioner for upgradation of Tseminyu to a district.

Despite repeated reminders to the state government in the subsequent years, the Rengma Nagas continue to demand a separate district.

Further adding that the Rengma Nagas have equally struggled for the Naga national movement with equal fight and struggle, he said the tribe should also be “compensated”.

Rengma Public Organization Kohima (RPOK) president Khinyi Woch said the bench courts established at Wokha and Zunheboto in 1946 and 1947, respectively, have attained district status. However, the Tseminyu bench continues to remain a subdivision.

Despite being considered an advanced Naga tribe along with Angami, Ao, Sema, and Lotha tribes, he said that only the Rengmas continue to struggle with its demand for a district.

On the occasion, the Pochury Hoho Kohima also expressed solidarity with the demands of the Rengma Nagas, and lauded the participants who undertook the walkathon. The Hoho expressed hope that the government would hear their demands at the soonest. 

Several other civil society organisations, including Tenyimi Peoples’ Organization (TPO), Naga Mothers Association (NMA), Chakhesang Students’ Union (CSU), Nagaland Gaon Bura Association (NGBF), and Lotha Hoho also expressed their solidarity.

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