From Dec 8, 2016 to July 29, 2019;
The opposition continues
December 8, 2016. It was in the dead of the night that information about the decision of the then State Government under the Congress decided to create seven new districts namely, Jiribam, Kangpokpi, Pherzawl, Kamjong, Noney, Kakching and Tengnoupal. The Sangai Express had to declare ‘Stop Press’ to include the information as the lead news story for the next day and the Editor and senior Sub-Editors had to leave their dinner and rush back to office ! This was nearly three years back but the ghost created then refuses to be exorcised even today and this is where one can see the steadfast stand of the United Naga Council. Districts are obviously created for administrative convenience but this cut no ice with the UNC which went ahead and imposed an indefinite economic blockade which lasted for four months, breaking all previous ‘records’. One can still recall the counter blockades that were imposed in some section of the valley area, stretching the hill-valley ties to its limit. Ancestral land, that was at the core of the opposition raised by the UNC and it was the lack of basic amenities in the valley area that led to the counter-blockades. Administrative convenience, this sounds perfectly logical but then questions could well have been raised on why the seven new districts were created when Assembly elections were drawing very close back then. Remember the State went to polls in March, 2017 and the districts were created on December 8, 2016. So definitely it was a more like of case of election strategy laced with the slogan administrative convenience. It was only after the BJP led Government was sworn in on March 15, 2017, that the blockade was lifted and the people heaved a sigh of relief. The politics of blockade and administrative convenience did give a big blow on the hill-valley relationship back then, with the people of the valley under the impression that making the common people suffer for policies adopted by the State Government was not logical.
Blockade off but this however did not mean that the UNC had agreed with the decision of the then Congress Government to create the seven new districts. Not officially spelt out, but taking the past into consideration, it can be assumed that the UNC is against the districts creation decision largely because of the district status granted to Kangpokpi. Remember their strong opposition to the earlier call to grant district status to Sadar Hills. Just a change in name that was all that could be seen in creating Kangpokpi district. That the UNC has still not backed off from their opposition to the decision to create the seven new districts can be seen from the series of meetings that have been held with the Central Government acting as the mediator at the Union Home Ministry level. The meeting has been going on but for reasons which have not been succinctly spelt out, the Union Home Ministry has rescheduled the proposed meeting which was to have been held on July 29. In informing the people that the proposed meeting has been postponed, UNC did not lose the opportunity of asserting that the Naga people are the ‘only authority’ to decide on land, identity, rights and history and ‘our future.’ In asserting this stand, the UNC is more than implying that the districts which have been newly created deface the ancestral land of the Nagas. How well this will go down with the Centre and others remains to be seen, but the authority with which UNC has asserted their stand is certainly interesting.