The 59th Independence Day at Tuensang with Minister for Transport, Imtilemba Sangtam as Chief Guest could not go as planned in the designated venue after the Chang public and students reportedly spearheaded by the Chang Khulei Setshang (CKS) forcefully obstructed the celebration from being held at the local play ground. The action of the CKS in obstructing the unfurling of the National Flag cannot in any way be condoned in as much as the manner in which the government seemed to have mishandled the issue leading up to the unfortunate event cannot be likewise appreciated. According to the version of the CKS (and till the writing of this column, the state government has yet to officially respond), the public of Tuensang were unhappy over the decision of the government to create a Deputy Inspector of School Post at Tobu, considered as ‘disputed’ and more so when sincere efforts are being made under the aegis of the Eastern Nagaland Peoples Organization (ENPO) to resolve the Tobu issue.
To be fair, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio must be given the opportunity to explain as to why the decision was taken at the last hour to go ahead with the DIS Post at Tobu even though both the CKS and the ENPO had counseled against this. The only argument in defense of the government’s action could be that development process ought not to be held hostage by an intractable problem and that development should be allowed to proceed unhampered. While this is a valid point, the State Government could have taken greater account of the ground reality and also knowing fully well that both the Chang and Konyak community have now stopped their bitter acrimony by restoring a semblance of peace under the aegis of the ENPO. No right thinking Naga would want to reignite the Tobu cauldron at this juncture and the ‘reported’ mis (handling) of the series of event (CKS version) does not in any way give confidence to the peace negotiation aimed at resolving the Tobu problem.
It is therefore disappointing to note the manner in which the Cabinet had hastily taken the decision to create the new DIS post at Tobu without looking at the larger picture of achieving permanent peace between the two communities. And more importantly at a time when the process for settling the long drawn conflict was making positive headway under the aegis of a Special Committee on Tobu appointed for the purpose, the government had no locus standing to ride roughshod over the people’s mandate for peace and unity among the Changs and Konyaks.
For about 20-30 years Tobu has remained a chronic issue that has defied a solution. And now that the laborious groundwork has been prepared towards hammering out a final solution to the contentious Tobu land ownership issue, both the Konyak Union (KU) and the Chang Khulie Setshang (CKS) under the aegis of the ENPO must continue to mutually agree to maintain peace at any cost and to continue their efforts at resolving this long pending ‘dispute’. The latest missive from the State Government should not be allowed to shatter the favorable atmosphere. Both tribes under the ENPO should continue to work and sort out any differences that may come their way through mutual respect and reciprocation.