As the Centre and NSCN(IM) are negotiating hard over the redrawing of Nagaland's geography, vital documents comprising details of boundaries of the Northeastern state went "missing" due to the callous handling by public servants.
The "original" documents, which include valid map of Nagaland, were kept with the Ministry of Home Affairs first and then the Assam Government but could not be traced during the crucial meeting of the Local Commission, hearing the decades-old Assam-Nagaland border dispute.
The Nagaland government held the Assam government responsible for carelessness leading to the missing of the documents while the Assam government claims that these were not "original" but photocopies.
The records were considered to be vital as the two Northeastern states have been involved in several violent border clashes during the last two decades and NSCN(IM) has been demanding carving out of "Greater Nagaland" by extending the existing boundary.
"We have submitted the documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs during the course of our submission on border dispute. But the MHA has passed on the documents to Assam government during whose custody the documents went missing," Nagaland's Secretary (Border Affairs) H K Khullo told PTI.
The fact came to light when the Nagaland government told the Local Commission on Assam-Nagaland Border last week, in response to the direction of submitting the "original" documents, that it was not in a position to give the written statement unless its "original" documents which were purportedly lost by Assam government were returned. (More)
Sources said the "original" documents were submitted by Nagaland before the Home Ministry but it later passed on to Assam government.
However, the Assam government denied the charges of mishandling the "original" documents, saying whatever documents came from the Home Ministry were all in photocopy form and that too way back in 1979.
"We had received only the photocopies of the documents, not the original, and that too in 1979. It is true that the documents went missing but Nagaland must have been kept the original documents, which is the normal practice," Assam's Commissioner and Secretary for Border Areas Rajiv Kumar Borah said.
The Local Commission has now asked the Home Ministry and Survey of India to help trace Nagaland's original documents and report the matter to it in the next meeting scheduled to be held in November.
The Home Ministry has convened a meeting of both the concerned parties, governments of Assam and Nagaland, next month to find out ways if the Survey of India fails to trace the vital records.
The issue may turn into a major controversy considering the fact that reconstruction of the boundary was a tedious task and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isck-Muivah, which has been negotiating with the Centre for bringing a lasting solution to the Naga insurgency, has been demanding creation of a "Greater Nagaland" incorporating a vast areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.