DIMAPUR, Feb 1 – Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has advocated that the Government of India and Myanmar need to have a people oriented approach to address the issues that are impacting the people of the North East by understanding the ground realities.
Addressing the International Conference on Myanmar at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, jointly organised by the University and Tampadipa Institute, Yangon, yesterday, Rio said four States in the Northeastern region share international boundary with Myanmar, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
He observed that the region is connected to mainland India by a small chicken neck which is just 2 per cent of the total length of the surrounding boundary. The remaining 98 per cent is surrounded by international boundaries, with China in the north, Myanmar in the east and Bangladesh in the west, Rio said.
“Geographically, the region lies nestled between the world’s two most populous countries, one of which is the largest democracy India and the other being the most powerful Communist nation, China.
Keeping all these aspects in mind, the Governments of India and Myanmar need to have a people oriented approach to address the issues that are impacting the people of the region by understanding the ground realities,” the Nagaland Chief Minister said.
Rio said, the Government of India has lifted the Protected Area Permit in the North East, with much positive impact, as witnessed by the increase in foreign tourists to Nagaland during the last two “Hornbill Festivals”, held annually in December.
At the moment, the Government of India and Myanmar follow an open border policy. “I feel that this position should not be disturbed, as it is working well”, Rio stated adding “This open border policy is especially important for Nagaland, because many Naga villages sit right on the international boundary.
“The daily movement of the Naga villagers across the border for their daily jhuming and other activities is a necessity. Although the Ministry of Home Affairs have been advocating introduction of border passes, I am strongly of the opinion that issuing of passes by Government officials would be cumbersome and impracticable. The people living in these areas have taken the international boundaries in their stride, but there has been practically no migration across the border because of the Naga’s land holding system.”
“Hence, we should not disturb the present peaceful situation and create new problems where it does not exist,” Rio further stated.
The Naga population on both sides of the border share a common heritage, culture, traditions, history and religion. One million of Naga population are placed in Myanmar while four million Nagas are in the Indian Union. They are further divided in four States of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, he stated.
“The Nagas are happy that in August 2010, the Government of Myanmar has finally accorded political recognition to the Nagas in the form of the “Naga Autonomous Self Administered Zone and the Nagas participated enthusiastically in the Myanmar national elections in November, 2010.”
Wellknown personalities who attended the conference included Prof Veena Sikri, MMAJ Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Dr Khin Zaw Win, Director, Tampadipa Institute, Yangon, Zin Yaw, Ambassador of Myanmar to India, Dr Harn Yawnghwe, Director, Euro Burma Office, Brussels, U Khin Maung Shwe, Party Leader, National Democratic Force (NDF), Myanmar and Najeeb Jung, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia.