Nagaland moving towards dystopia – MP Tokheho Yepthomi

Kohima: It is time for Nagas to decide for economic independence or to continue and keep negotiating for political sovereignty

BY | Thursday, 4 January, 2024

India got its independence on 15th August 1947 and now at 77 years India is a nuclear power and the world’s most populous country.

Nagas’ started its political movement in 1929 with the representation given to Akbar Hyder Ali. The real movement stated in 1950’s where the so called Plebiscite of 1951 was a fractured mandate given in the absence of entire Eastern Nagas and Nagas of other states. Nagaland got statehood on 1st December 1963 with 16-point agreement under Article – 371 (A). Many Nagas are today critical of the 16-point agreement and statehood for which Dr. Imkongliba was made to sacrifice his life. It’s sacrifices of leaders like him that the present generation are enjoying fruits of statehood brought about by the 16 point agreement.

Nagaland has now attained 60 years of statehood. During the past 60 years there have been ups and downs, politically and socially. In the last six decades we have had 11 Chief Ministers and 840 Members of Legislative Assembly who have served the people of Nagaland. With Statehood the people of Nagaland had great expectations that it would usher in an era of development and prosperity. The ground realities are on the contrary to peoples’ expectations primarily due to revenue crunch. The people of Nagaland have reposed faith in the leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Neiphiu Rio for five consecutive elections, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2023. So much can only be done by one at the helm of a State which has very limited revenue and the mushrooming of more than twenty, 20, Naga political factions.

The government of India has since the inception of Nagaland extended financial support from towns to the most far-flung villages. While there are many who are tirelessly working for the people, there are those who are sucking the very life out of Nagaland in terms of economic development and most importantly intellectual development. We have manufactured stories to cloak ourselves only from ourselves whist the worlds see through our self-imposed cloak of invisibility. On the 11th of July 2002 the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee talked

about unique Naga history. Every race, culture, ethnicity and creed has its own distinct and unique identity. There is no oral leave alone written evidence to prove one common “Unique Naga history and identity”

When the Indian National Congress party under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh was at the helm of power, they failed to resolve the Naga political issue and consequently the Congress party in Nagaland has not had an MLA in the 13th and present 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

When the BJP came to power in 2014 under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the people of Nagaland had great expectations for solution to the vexed Naga issue. When the Framework Agreement and Agreed Position was signed in 2015 and 2017 the then Hon”ble Governor and also the interlocutor said on 12th February 2021 on the floor of the NLA that the negotiations had concluded on 31s October 2019 and his statement was adopted

during the vote of thanks by the 60 members of the 13th NLA. In spite of his sincere efforts to resolve the Naga Political issue some leaders did not agree with the sincere efforts of Shri R N Ravi. We Nagas have reached a point of rational bankruptcy where people who speak the truth are despised and the ones who fabricate and peddle lies are held in high esteem. These are the people who thrive when there is chaos and uncertainty in society. Our inability or denial to see the truth is because we are still demarcated socially and politically on tribal lines. Whatever justification we give for the inability and incapacity to keep pace with development and economic growth with the rest of the country and world is because of the unresolved political issue and the use of money power in all walks of life. The present scenario in Delhi, as always, is to say yes to whatever Delhi dictates. Thus, there will be no solution before 2024 May election.

The intention of many in Delhi is delay the Naga Political issue for as long as possible to make arrangements for extraction of oil along the Assam Nagaland boundary. Very soon 64% of India’s oil production will come from North-eastern States, of which Nagaland will not be a part of as the ongoing political negotiations has halted the exploration of oil in Nagaland. By March 2024 the Numaligarh oil refinery will be upgraded from 3 MMT (Million Metric Tons) to 9 MMT, which will make it one of the largest refineries in India. All refineries situated in Assam are being upgraded. Digboi refinery is being upgraded from 0.50 MMT to 1.00 MMT, Guwahati refinery from 1.00MMT to 2.00 MMT and New Bongaigaon from 2.35 MMT to 2.70 MMT to 5.00 MMT. Numaligarh Oil Refinery as set up through the Assam Accord in 1985 and commissioned in 2000. Today the refinery is a source of direct and indirect employment for thousands of youths in Assam. The oil refineries have brought revenues of Rs 18000 crores for the State of Assam over the last 10 years i.e. 2011-12 to 2020-21. Whilst our neighbours make economic progress at blistering pace, we Nagas have stifled development on the pretext of Article 371 (A) and the political negotiations.

There are 35 oil refineries along Nagaland and Assam border. Of the 35 oil fields, 7 are in Nagaland namely Champang, Hozukhe, Nikihe, Pishikhu, Tokishe, Khoponala and Toshezu. Citing Article 371 (A) and the Naga Political negotiations none of the aforementioned oil fields are operational. On the other hand of the 28 oil fields in Assam operational. The Government of Nagaland has to ascertain the amount of oil deposit in Nagaland before finalizing the agreement for sharing of oil royalty with Assam.

No economy can develop without energy. Nagaland has been reeling under electricity crisis for decades now because of our inability to tap into potential sources of energy. We are an electricity deficit State, which makes us heavily dependent on electricity from other states. The energy crisis makes it impossible for micro and small enterprises in the state to function smoothly due to added cost of fuel and generators. Over and above Nagaland has the highest percentage as per population of unemployed youths in the country. The stranglehold of businesses in Nagaland by outsiders through the guise of Power of Attorney has become so deeply entrenched in our society that it has left people of Nagaland at the mercy of outsiders. We must do away with giving of power of attorney to outsiders in order to enable our youth to do business in our own land. Nagas of Nagaland are today politically and economically slaves to outsiders.

More than 60% of Nagaland’s population is under the age of 25 which means they are all younger than the Naga political Negotiations. It is time for Nagas to decide for economic independence or to continue and keep negotiating for political sovereignty. Should we pass this on to our future generations?

Tokheho Yepthomi

MP Lok Sabha

You cannot copy content of this page