Naga group says it will boycott Lok Sabha election to press demand for separate state

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation, a body representing seven Naga tribes, on Monday wrote to the Election Commission to inform the poll panel of its decision to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The organisation has been demanding the creation of a separate state of “Frontier Nagaland” comprising six districts of Nagaland since 2010.

On March 15, it threatened to boycott the general elections if the Centre fails to meet the promise it made before the Assembly elections last year of giving greater autonomy to the region.

In the letter, the tribal body told the Election Commission on Monday: “The people of eastern Nagaland under the aegis of Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation had on March 19, 2024, reaffirmed its commitment to the ‘Chenmoho Resolution’, wherein it was further reaffirmed and resolved not to participate in any central and state elections against the failure to settle the creation of frontier Nagaland territory.”

The organisation said that they were assured by Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah that the issue would be settled before the announcement of the Model Code of Conduct to the Lok Sabha 2024.

“However, despite numerous reminders through letters and mass public rallies, the Ministry of Home Affairs turned its deaf ear and finally MCC [Model Code of Conduct] was announced by the ECI [Election Commission of India] – which is why the Eastern Nagaland populace feels compelled to take this course of action as a means of expressing our collective discontentment,” said the letter.

The tribal body also clarified that the decision to abstain from participating in any central and state electoral process was not taken lightly and was “not intended as an act of defiance against the electoral machinery or the principles of democracy”.

It said that it is “rather a principled stance taken within the framework of the Constitution of India” and is aimed at drawing attention to the legitimate grievances and aspirations of the people of eastern Nagaland.

Nagaland has only one Lok Sabha constituency, where elections will be held on April 19.

Why is a separate state being demanded?

Eastern Nagaland comprises six districts – Tuensang, Mon, Longleng, Kiphire, Noklak and Shamator – which are inhabited by seven Naga tribes: Konyak, Khiamniungan, Chang, Sangtam, Tikhir, Phom and Yimkhiung.

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation has been demanding the creation of “Frontier Nagaland”, claiming that the six districts are significantly more backward than the rest of Nagaland.

They have argued that a new state will ensure development.

“We have many Nagas, but we have two groups – one backward Naga and another advanced,” CL John, an MLA from Eastern Nagaland, told Scroll in 2022. “So, this separate state movement is for upliftment and welfare of the Nagas in eastern Nagaland.”

The tribal body had called for a boycott of the Legislative Assembly elections held in March last year as well.

Following that, Shah in December 2022 a delegation from the organisation that time-bound steps will be taken to address their grievances.

Also read: Why some Nagas want to partition their state to create a ‘Frontier Nagaland’

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