Nagas press for autonomous council in three Arunachal districts

The Arunachal Pradesh government can`t brush aside the need to establish an autonomous district council in the Naga-dominated areas of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, said various bodies associated with the movement for a Patkai Autonomous Council for the three areas.

IANS| Last Updated: Jun 02, 2017, 17:33 PM IST

New Delhi: The Arunachal Pradesh government can`t brush aside the need to establish an autonomous district council in the Naga-dominated areas of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, said various bodies associated with the movement for a Patkai Autonomous Council for the three areas.

They said a Patkai Autonomous Council for Tirap, Changlang and Longding (TCL) is the only solution for the region, alleging it has been ignored by the state government and the Centre for decades in terms of its socio-economic development.

The proposal to form an autonomous council to develop the Naga-inhabited areas was cleared by the Cabinet in 2013 and has been pending with the Home Ministry since 2014.

Various bodies associated with the movement such as Patkai Autonomous Demand District Council and the TCL Students Federation have threatened to hold an indefinite bandh in the three districts if the Centre and the state continue to pay no heed to the matter.

"The successive Chief Ministers of Arunanchal Pradesh hardly have any knowledge about the people of the Patkai region which has Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts. 

They neither know the way of life nor do they have any basic knowledge about the topography of the region. Based on these historical reasons, people of the three districts have demanded Patkai Autonomous Council," said a statement issued by TCL Students Federation.

Earlier, the bodies had also sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on formation of the autonomous council.

Patkai hills is also known as the home of Wancho, Nocte, Tangsa, Tutsa Ollo - recognised as Naga by the Constitution. In 1914 they were part of North East Frontier Tract, which was later renamed North East Frontier Agency.

The Arunachal Pradesh government data states that areas falling under Patkai region are the most resource-rich but not even one per cent has been tapped. 

"In the absence of any proper infrastructure we have also failed to develop the human resources. This has led to many unemployed youths taking to drugs, insurgency and many anti-social activities. Even after 30 years of association with the state we have not seen any tangible change in the Patkai region," said the statement.

According to records, the demand for formation of Patkai Autonomous Council was passed by the Assembly in 2004 and 2007 and the Cabinet approved it in 2013.

The proposal was then sent to the Union Home Ministry and a committee headed by Joint Secretary (North East), Ministry of Home Affairs, was constituted by the then UPA government, which visited the three districts in February 2014. Since then, there has been no communication from the Home Ministry.

Stating that while "brothers in Nagaland" are enjoying a full-fledged state with special status, the TCL groups said: "We have been left in the lurch to fend for ourselves. We feel dejected because of the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards our grievances."

According to the community, their demand for an autonomous council, which would focus on the development of TCL areas, is deliberately being sidelined by the Pema Khandu government in Arunachal Pradesh.