Gorkhaland deal spurs self-rule demand in NE | india | Hindustan Times
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Gorkhaland deal spurs self-rule demand in NE

india Updated: Jul 21, 2011 19:01 IST
Rahul Karmakar

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Gorkhaland deal this week has spurred a series of statehood and council demands in half the eight northeastern states.

In Manipur, the Kuki State Demand Committee has announced an 18-hour bandh from Thursday midnight for a 'Kukiland' encompassing areas inhabited by Kuki tribal people of Manipur, Assam and adjoining states in the Northeast.

"Almost all communities have a state, council or self-rule territory. Why should the Kukis be deprived? Our stir will continue beyond this bandh,” said the committee's publicity secretary LH Hmar.

A separate group of Kukis, however, have been demanding a new district to be carved out of Senapati district of Manipur. Senapati is inhabited by Kukis and Nagas, who have had a history of ethnic clashes, and the new district named Sadar Hills is expected to widen the chasm.

In Nagaland to the east, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration deal seems to have given a fresh lease of life to the demand for a separate Eastern Nagaland state comprising four districts – Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng. Six Naga tribes inhabiting these districts have for long accused Nagaland government of being partial to 10 other tribes "who control power and resources".

The Neiphiu Rio government in Nagaland is against the statehood demand by the Eastern Naga Peoples' Organization, as is the rebel National Socialist Council of Nagaland that sees an 'Indian intelligence hand' in the 'divisive game’.

Another old statehood demand revived by the Gorkhaland deal is that of Garoland comprising the western half of Meghalaya inhabited by the Garo tribe.

But a relatively new demand is that of Gorkha Autonomous Council by the Nepalese-origin people of Assam. "The Tarun Gogoi government did for the Gorkha Development Council, but it was a meaningless sop. We won't settle for anything less than an autonomous council (in north-central Assam)," said All Assam Gorkha Students' Union publicity secretary Nanda Kirati Dewan.