FNT issue neglect

Imti Longchar

Allegations and counter-allegations between the ENPO and the State Government regarding consultation on the draft Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) for Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) continue to undermine trust between the parties involved. 

Of the most recent, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO) accused the Nagaland State Government of stalling the settlement of the Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) before the announcement of the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election. The Election Commission of India announced the Model Code of Conduct on March 16 with the announcement of the dates for the Lok Sabha elections. 

In a statement on April 12, the ENPO said it has been made aware that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India had handed over the highlights of the draft to the MoS for FNT to the State Government in December 2023, seeking its comments on it before December 31, 2023. 

However, the State Government did not give any comments on the draft MoS as solicited by the MHA, due to which, the FNT could not be realized before the announcement of the Model Code of Conduct to the Lok Sabha election 2024, the ENPO has now alleged. 

This compelled the Eastern Nagaland public to make a resolution at Chenmoho village on February 23, 2024 not to participate in any Central or State election until and unless the issue of granting FNT was resolved as per the commitment given by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, it stated. 

According to ENPO’s earlier press statements, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah during a meeting on December 7, 2023 assured to establish the proposed FNT before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. 

Quoting Amit Shah’s assurance, the ENPO had said that the draft proposal will also be handed over to the Nagaland Chief Minister to get the State Government’s view, following which the MHA will hand it over to the ENPO. 

This was to be followed by the MHA inviting the State Government and the ENPO, before December 25, for fixing a date for the signing of the MoS before the Election Model Code of Conduct took effect, it also stated.

In February, the ENPO had also accused the Nagaland Chief Minister of making contradictory statements on the draft proposal. 
The Eastern Nagaland people have been demanding a Frontier Nagaland state since 2010 over issues of alleged discrimination, particularly in the developmental front. Initially, it had demanded a full-fledged separate state, however, reconsidered this demand after appeals from the Centre, sate government and tribal bodies. 

It withdrew its decision to boycott the Nagaland State Assembly election that was conducted in February 2023 after the Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly gave commitment on the FNT establishment right after the NLA elections. 

If proven true, the ENPOs’ allegation over the inaction and apparent insincerity of the State Government in failing to respond to the Centre’s request for comment on the MoS reflects a lapse in commitment and a disregard for the legitimate concerns of the ENPO. 

Souring of relations between the ENPO and the State Government, characterized by accusations of political posturing and neglect of duty, will only deepen the impasse.