Indian N-E groups reject NSCN’s merger demand

Himalayan News Service

Guwahati, February 21:

Several rebel groups in India’s northeast have rejected demands by a tribal separatist group in Nagaland for integrating all Naga inhabited areas in the region. Militant outfits in the states of Assam and Manipur said there could be no compromise on the states’ territorial integrity, contrary to demands by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

“We want an end to the long drawn struggle of the Nagas. But having said that, we are not going to tolerate if any attempts are made to make the indigenous communities in the neighbouring states homeless in their own land,” said Saiding Eh, leader of the outlawed United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS). The UPDS is a rebel group in Assam fighting for a separate homeland for the Karbi tribe and is currently observing a truce with New Delhi.

Joining the protest against the merger move is another rebel group from Assam, the Dima Halam Daoga. A number of militant outfits in Manipur, too, have opposed the NSCN’s demand.

The state governments of Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh have also turned down the unification demand. “The question of allowing our land to be merged with another state does not arise. There can be no compromise on the state’s territorial integrity,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said. Manipur had witnessed violent protests in 2001 when New Delhi decided to extend the jurisdiction of the truce with the NSCN beyond Nagaland. NSCN leaders are adopting a belligerent posture by saying that there cannot be any solution unless all Naga inhabited areas are merged. “We want an acceptable solution to our problem and there cannot be any compromise on the issue of unification of all Naga inhabited areas,” a NSCN leader said.