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Mokokchung, 25 January (MTNews): In response to the recent announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on 20 January regarding the decision to fence the India-Myanmar border, mirroring the approach taken on the Indo-Bangladesh border, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has issued a resolute condemnation stating that it has sparked grave concerns among the Naga people.

The NSF said in a press statement the revelation that the existing Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar is set to be abolished has raised grave concerns among the Naga people, who have historically endured the consequences of external forces imposing arbitrary divisions.

While appreciating the Government of Nagaland for its seriousness in addressing this matter, the Federation urged upon the government of the day to proactively engage with the central government to ensure that the FMR is not abolished.

“This regime plays a crucial role in fostering connections, relations, and cooperation between the Naga people residing on both sides of the Saramati mountain range,” stated the NSF. The Federation contended that its abolition would disrupt the historical ties and cooperation that have been in place for generations.

Further, the Federation cautioned against any individuals or political entities taking advantage of this issue solely for political mileage in Delhi. The NSF emphasized that the Naga aspiration for autonomy and respect for their rights should not be compromised for short-term political advantages. “We urge all stakeholders to prioritize the welfare and aspirations of the Naga people over political opportunism,” the NSF said.

“The Naga people have long suffered the consequences of arbitrary divisions imposed by external forces, and any attempt to further divide and fence the Nagas is as an affront to our rights and autonomy,” stated the NSF.

“The recent decision to abolish the Free Movement Regime is particularly troubling, especially considering India’s global status and its commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 (UNDRIP),” stated the NSF.

Citing Article 36 of the UNDRIP, which explicitly recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples divided by international borders to maintain and develop connections, relations, and cooperation across borders for various purposes, the NSF called upon the Indian government to reconsider its decision. The India-Myanmar border, stretching across Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh, is a complex landscape with diverse communities and histories, it added.

The NSF urged the Indian government to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Naga community to find a solution that respects historical rights and aligns with international commitments made by the Indian government to uphold the rights of indigenous peoples. The Federation asserted that the Naga people should not be denied the right to maintain and develop connections among themselves, integral to their cultural, social, and economic fabric.

The NSF reaffirmed its commitment to advocating for the rights and autonomy of the Naga people. They called for a united effort from the state and central governments to address this issue through dialogue and understanding, respecting the historical context and the rights of the indigenous Naga community.

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