TRNYF demands completion of foothill road to avoid road blockades in Assam

DIMAPUR, NOV 21 (NPN) | Publish Date: 11/21/2020 11:57:42 AM IST

With the total indefinite blockade imposed at Mariani-Mokokchung road which is continuing since November 15 and which was affecting trade and economy of Mokokchung district (NH-702 D), the Tsurangkong Range Naga Youth Front (TRNYF) has urged Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio to bring a remedy to such unending threats by ensuring early completion of the much expected Naga Foothill Road.

In an open letter to the chief minister, TRNYF president Bendangwati and secretary Shiluyongdang emphasised that “as long as the Naga Foothill Road remains just a lip service, Nagas along the border belt will continue to suffer economically and mentally at the hands of Assamese people.”

They said that the blockade on all Nagaland-bound vehicles at New Sonowal, reflected the “narrow and immature mindset” of some leaders in Assam who were unmindful about disrupting the peaceful co-existence of the two states.

TRNYF asserted that people living in the border belt have been subjected to undue harassment ever since the beginning of border disputes between the two states. They reminded that it was a fact that every major road leading to Nagaland passes through Assam, and the road blockades are being enforced for trivial matters with the sole intention exploiting this advantage against Nagas.

TRNYF said the increasing highway blockades “at the whims and fancy of every Tom, Dick and Harry in Assam” and with inaction against such illegal blockades and those leaders involved, has only emboldened “every Assam based organizations/civil societies/groups to impose such bandhs against the Nagas.”

Therefore, TRNYF said that Nagas should not be placed at a disadvantaged position, solely because Nagas commute or travel through Assam and that both states benefit through this inter-state connectivity. 

Further, the forum categorically stated the national highway was not the sole property of Assam state, but a national property. Therefore, blockading national highways was illegal as per the National Highways Act 1956, sub-section 8(1). TRNYF also said it was beyond reason as to why the Assam government continues to turn a blind eye against such illegal activities.

TRNYF reiterated that while Nagas are a peaceful people but “when our patience is taken for cowardice and our tolerance is considered as weakness, we have no other option but to stand up against such illegal activities and criminals.” 

The forum therefore, said it was convinced that the blockade was “an act of declaring war against us who are affected most by the total blockade of national highway at New Sonowal”. The signatories said the cascading effects compel them to believe that they can survive without the NH 702(D) and also can also intent to “counter block the highway.” 

Foothill Road: The Foothill Road project was initiated by several apex Naga tribe hohos from Dimapur in 2013. The road is to link up Dimapur to Tuli, Tizit and Naginimora along the state’s foothills by avoiding Assam.

The government of Nagaland had started construction of the foothill road in 1974 under NEC funding but it did not materialize and was ultimately abandoned. The original foothills road, as proposed in 2013, ran a length of approximately 250km. With the inclusion of Khelma, it would run some 400km from Tizit (Mon) to Khelma (Peren). 

The Nagaland Foothill Road Coordination Committee (NFHRCC) has renamed the Foothill Road into a Mega Trans Nagaland Expressway, for which the DPR was approved by the MoRTH and the final declaration is awaited from the Prime Minister’s Office.



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