AICC seal on Naga integration
Source: The Sangai Express

Kohima, February 09: The All India Congress Committee today (Feb 8) endorsed its Nagaland unit's demand for the integration of all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas, seemingly unmindful of the potential for discord in the party units in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

The seal of approval came through AICC secretary Siddharth Patil, who is in Nagaland to oversee the party's preparations for the Assembly elections on March 5 .

He said the Congress was committed to implementing the 16-point statehood agreement, including the controversial clause on integration, "in letter and spirit".

Clause 13 of the agreement states that all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas will be yoked together under a single administration.

Clause 2 of the same agreement seeks to place Nagaland under the external affairs ministry.

Nagaland was under the external affairs ministry for seven years after being granted statehood in 1963.It was brought under the internal affairs ministry in the early seventies, when Hokishe Sema was the chief minister.

Goa Governor SC Jamir, also a former chief minister, is the only living signatory to the controversial 16-point agreement.

The erstwhile Jamir government adopted several resolutions in the Assembly to pressure Delhi into bringing all Naga-inhabited areas under one administration, but the party's central leadership was non-committal on the topic.

Patil said the Congress would strive hard to facilitate an "acceptable and honourable" political settlement of the integration issue.

Integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas is also a demand raised by the NSCN (Isak-Muivah).

The militant group has been in dialogue with Delhi for almost a decade and the issue of bringing all Naga-inhabited areas under "Nagalim" has been the stumbling block because it involves carving out parts of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Congress's manifesto for Nagaland, which was released today (Feb 8), reinforces what Patil said.

The eight-page manifesto states that the Congress will continue to remind Delhi about the need to implement the 16-point agreement.

"The Congress has always stood for peace, reconciliation, unity and social harmony.

The Congress's way shall be the way of dialogue, not discord".

The manifesto also makes a case for reviewing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act, both of which are seen as "draconian".

(Courtesy The Telegraph) .