Naga groups object to mineral exploration in disputed Assam-Nagaland border areas
The Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an grouping of six Naga outfits, on Sunday asked Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio “to withdraw any kind of agreement with Assam on disturbed, unresolved boundary areas and mineral exploration attempt therein, as it is guarded by Naga historical and political sanctity”.
Kohima: The Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an grouping of six Naga outfits, on Sunday asked Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio “to withdraw any kind of agreement with Assam on disturbed, unresolved boundary areas and mineral exploration attempt therein, as it is guarded by Naga historical and political sanctity”.
Rio and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma last week held talks on settlement of border disputes, and agreed, in principle, on exploring oil in disputed areas for economic benefit of both states.
Both Chief Ministers also discussed issues of mutual interests and collaboration on oil exploration along the inter-state border.
After the meeting with Sarma, Rio had told the media that both states have, in principle, decided to go in for a MoU on oil exploration in the disputed areas along the inter-state boundary so that oil can be extracted and royalties shared between both states.
“Once it is formalised, there is huge potential for exploration of oil inside Nagaland also. And to move forward as the country needs oil in a big way,” he added.
Oil exploration could not be taken up in Nagaland for quite some time as there has been a standoff on the exploration issue between the Centre and the state.
The Working Committee of the NNPG, in a statement on Sunday, said that it is constrained to demand the Nagaland Chief Minister to withdraw any kind of understanding with Assam on the disturbed, unresolved boundary areas and mineral exploration attempt therein, “as it is guarded by Naga historical and political sanctity and therefore, immoral and unacceptable to the stakeholders”.
“Assam and Nagaland do not have any powers to negotiate or enter into mutual agreements on oil exploration or any sharing contract on the unresolved border areas, as the matter has been subject to intense Negotiations between the NNPG and the Government of India,” the statement said.
It said that the subject is a core part of Naga political talks, negotiated and awaiting final agreement between the Central and Naga negotiators.
Both Assam and Nagaland state governments are only caretaker governments as far as the disputed areas are concerned, the NNPG said, adding that the two state governments should not forget the past history of violence and conflict along the borders that cost hundreds of innocent lives and police personnel.
“The handshakes should not invite another round of bloodshed. There are armed revolutionary movements fighting for the right to safeguard their historical political rights in both the regions and therefore the MoUs are premature and unwise as it cannot wash away the stain of a thousand’s blood.”
It added that the proposed MOU on explorational of mineral activities on the undemarcated borders would have serious consequences in the border areas. “Leaders should not take the peaceful situation as a license to do anything they wish on land and resources.
“They will be held solely responsible for my repercussions in the disputed areas. Let it be that Nagas are solely landowners in the disturbed area belt and they have every right to adopt any measure to protect historical and customary rights over land against blatant misuse of power and authority by embezzlers and profiteers. The NNPG has not surrendered our ancestral land to any neighbouring states,” the statement said.
The Central government has been holding talks with the NSCN-IM, the dominant Naga outfit and the NNPG to resolve the decades-old Naga political issue. The stalemate continued as the NSCN-IM remained firm on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas.