Mhonlumo Kikon

Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 8: The 28th General Conference of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) got underway at Bhandari town in Wokha district on Wednesday. Thousands of the Naga students are congregating at the venue to engage in meaningful discourse on several burning issues that confront the society amid socio-political changes across the world.

The three-day NSF General Conference, which will conclude on May 11, is hosted by the Lotha Students’ Union (LSU) under the theme “For a just future”.

Special guest of the introductory session of the event, Advisor IT, Science and Technology and NRE, Mmhonlumo Kikon said that he was proud of LSU for upholding the position of the NSF on the issue of oil exploration in Champang and Tssori villages in Wokha district. He recalled how the NSF had in 1994 led a movement in connection with the oil and natural gas resources that was being explored by ONGC at the two locations.

The legislator said that the NSF’s intervention led to the closure of the entire exploration. The reason (for stoppage of exploration) was simple: Rights of the owners were not represented as the ONGC continued to explore beyond the agreed terms and the benefits acquired were not shared substantially by the state government with the people, he added.

In 2014, the state government went ahead with the issuance of permit to explore despite the legitimate and peaceful overtures by the LSU for a meaningful dialogue on the Nagaland Petroleum and Nagaland Gas Rules, recounted Kikon. He said the move was brutal as the government refused any dialogue and decided to award the permit to a company with little or no experience.

“It was appropriate and vital that the gathering will be visiting Champang as a process of reclamation and restoration of our rights and to further reinforce the theme of the conference,” Kikon said.

Rights, Kikon asserted, are political constructs that do not necessarily reflect inherent indigenous responsibilities to their lands and resources. He maintained that it was when the PDA government came to power that the issue was redressed. There is a responsive government in place today; which is sensitive to the needs of the people, and slowly but surely “we will attempt to provide good governance as per the expectations of the people who have reposed faith in us,” he added.

“Nagas in urban centres often find ways to maintain their links to their families, communities, and villages by going home for ceremonies or practising their ceremonial life in the cities. The visit envisaged by NSF to Champang oil field is the part of examining the community’s resurgence, to question the issue of substantiality and subsistence and to assess political harm and restore cultural practises,” Kikon said.

The Nagas’ notion of sustainability involves upholding one’s responsibilities to the land and the environment and giving back more than one takes, rather than simply residing on the land; this, he said leads the people to pertinent notion of representation. “Who represent us, and what do they represent us and how should we be represented?” Kikon questioned.

“The three days’ theme discourse must change from dependence to empowerment of the Nagas. The (Naga) peace process is not a zero sum game; it is bigger than all of us. This message needs to be conveyed to all stakeholders and” right shoulders”. The Naga issue and the future of the Naga people is bigger than all of us. Let us all take a pledge towards that end and rise beyond our own tribes and affirm that whether we are known as Southern Nagas or Eastern Nagas or Central Nagas, there is only one Naga family,” Kikon told the gathering.

The theme of the conference: “For a just future” envisages for the Naga youths to take a decisive stand on question of peace and dialogue, reconciliation and healing, governance and accountability, development and growth in all aspects of building the Naga future.

~EMN

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