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2018 fails to realise Nagaland's dream

twitter-logoPTI | December 24, 2018 | Updated 12:03 IST

By Narayan Bahadur Kohima, Dec 24 (PTI) A new government coming to power in Nagaland early this year raised hopes of a solution to the decades-old Naga problem but as 2018 draws to a close, people of the state are now questioning where is the "change" as promised by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. The chorus for a resolution before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections grew louder during the year. It also became a major issue before the assembly elections in February. Various Naga tribal bodies under the aegis of core committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations gave a rigorous call of "solution before the election". However, the BJP decided to participate in the February 27 state elections. The BJP's call of "Election for Solution" compelled other political parties including the then ruling Naga Peoples' Front and newly-floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) led by Rio and other parties filing nominations to contest the poll. The NDPP and the BJP, which snapped ties with former ally NPF, formed the People Democratic Alliance (PDA) and fought the election on a 40:20 seat sharing basis and managed to win 29 seats (17: NDPP, 12: BJP) to dethrone the 15-year-old NPF government. Even after the signing of the framework agreement with NSCN(IM) in 2015 and six Naga nationalist political groups joining the talks separately, there has not been a breakthrough on the decades-old Naga problem. Impeachment of Khongo Konyak from NSCN(K) led to creation of a new rebel group and founder chief late S S Khalang's nephew Yung Aung took over as its chairman. Following appeals by the state government, Naga tribal bodies, FNR, Naga Mothers Association and Goan Burahs Federation, the NSCN(K) earlier this month declared its willingness to re-enter into ceasefire with the Centre. The Nagaland Goan Burahs Federation recently took out a statewide peace rally seeking a solution to the long-pending issue from the Centre as a Christmas gift. Nagaland, which came into being on December 1, 1963, has been experiencing insurgency for decades. Several Naga groups have been claiming not to be part of India and have been demanding a greater Nagalim. Mid-year, Nagaland plunged into an emergency-like situation during monsoon season with flash floods and landslides damaging almost every part of the state. Several villages in the 12 districts remained cut off from the mainland. The state government submitted a proposal of around Rs 800 crore to the Centre for relief and rehabilitation work. In November, a team of the 15th Finance Commission led by its Chairman N K Singh visited the state and assured that it would make a "very positive and sympathetic and innovative approach to fast track the development of the economy of Nagaland". The year also witnessed resurgence of the demand for inclusion of Dimapur district into the fold of Inner Line Permit. Apex students' body Naga Students' Federation carried out mass public rallies demanding ILP imposition in Dimapur fearing mass exodus of illegal immigrants into the state following Assam's declaration of the final draft of National Register of Citizens. The students' body as well as Nagaland Tribes Council have been accusing the state government of inaction in opposing the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill while the government has standing on Nagaland being protected by the Inner Line Regulatory Act. Towards the year-end, 2.5 lakh visitors came together for the Hornbill festival at Naga heritage village Kisama. Billed as the "festival of festivals", it has been showcasing the rich culture and tradition of the state. PTI NBS SNS ZMN

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