State not to allow inclusion of its territory in Nagalim

GUWAHATI: The state government will oppose any move by the Centre to give Nagas in Assam the right to infringe upon the state's territory in any manner.

There are reports of the Centre working with the NSCN(IM) on an accord with a provision to give Nagaland a special status under which Naga councils would be set up in Naga-dominated areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Though the state government is yet to receive any formal communication from the MHA on this issue, a senior state government official said, "The state government will not agree to any move by the Centre to allow Nagaland to make any kind of infringement on Assam territory."

However, government spokesman and health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "There are no Naga-inhabited areas in Assam and any such move by the Centre will not affect the state."

State home secretary G D Tripathy told TOI, "We have not received any communication from the home ministry on the formation of Naga councils in Assam territory. We have also checked with the home ministry and it has denied any such move."

A source close to chief minister Tarun Gogoi said he is likely to meet home minister P Chidambaram on November 26 on the Naga issue. Gogoi had earlier opposed the territorial integration demanded by the NSCN(IM) and extension of the ceasefire to Naga-inhabited areas in the state.

The Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts of the state bordering Nagaland on the east have a substantial Naga population and the NSCN(IM) has been demanding the carving out of a greater 'Nagalim' by joining with Nagaland these Naga-inhabited areas of Assam as well similar areas in Arunachal Pradesh on Nagland's north and Manipur on its south.

The All Assam Students' Union also raised its voice against the reported move by the MHA to give Nagaland control over parts of the state. The students' body's general secretary, Tapan Kumar Gogoi, demanded both the Centre and state governments clarify their stands and issue whitepapers on the issue.

Manipur, too, has a sizeable Naga population and has been opposing tooth and nail the integration of Naga-inhabited areas in the state with Nagaland. The NSCN(IM) and the Centre signed a ceasefire agreement on August 1, 1997 and dialogue started in 1998.