Manipur and Nagaland border: Land row over Kezoltsa forest, Dzukou valley

Reported by

Emilo Yanthan

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Updated on

June 22, 2022

Location of Conflict

Kohima town

Dzuko valley

Kohima

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Border Dispute

Deployment of armed personnel within Nagaland by Government of Manipur

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2022

State

Nagaland

Sector

Land Use

On March 21st, 2022, the Southern Angami Public Organization (SAPO) of Nagaland initiated a bandh or blockade on National Highway-2 (NH 2) to protest the actions of the Manipur government in the Kezoltsa forest area, which is located in the Dzukou valley that spreads over the boundaries of Nagaland and Manipur.

SAPO started the bandh to protest the deployment of security personnel by the Manipur Government in the forest, which they claim lies within Nagaland. However this claim was denied by the Government of Manipur, which alleged that Nagaland's armed forces were put up in areas which fall within Manipur's jurisdiction. SAPO and the Southern Angami Youth Organization (SAYO) initiated the bandh on NH-2 on March 21st, 2022. They demanded that the Manipur government pull out their security personnel from Kezoltsa forest within 72 hours. On March 24th, they declared this bandh indefinite as they felt the Manipur Government was unresponsive to their demands. SAPO chief Metekhrielie Mejura said “Despite all humble and polite approaches to withdraw armed personnel and stop any developmental activities, they never paid heed in any manner.” On the other hand, the United Committee, Manipur (UCM) notified that they would initiate a counter bandh if SAPO refused to stop the indefinite bandh. UCM President, Joychandra Konthoujam said “if SAPO fails to pay heed to the calls for withdrawal of the indefinite bandh then it will join hands with Manipuris settling in Assam to impose counter bandh.”

NH 2 runs from Assam to Nagaland, through Manipur. It is a significant road for Manipur, which as a land locked state, relies on it for procuring its goods. Economic blockades of this highway can lead to a disruption in the movement of people and goods in Manipur. Owing to its strategic importance, this highway is often subjected to blockades by civil society organisations of Nagaland for pressuring the Government of Manipur.

The Kezoltsa forest area has been a bone of contention between three Naga tribal communities since the British administration imposed arbitrary borders across the area. The communities include Marams and Mao Nagas of Manipur, and Angami Nagas of Nagaland. All three communities claim ancestral ownership over the land. The Mao and the Angami Nagas have been at loggerheads over this land since the 1970s.

In the recent past, the conflict flared up in 2015 in which the Angami Nagas were represented by SAPO while the Mao Nagas by Mao Council. Given that the conflict is over customary rights, the matter is usually addressed by the Tenyimia People's Organization (TPO), which is the top council for ten Naga tribes who identify themselves as part of the Tenyimia block and possess common ancestors. Both Mao and Angami Nagas are a part of this bloc. In 2017, the two tribes arrived at an understanding that they will maintain status quo over the land. SAPO considers the recent deployment of state personnel by the Manipur government a violation of that understanding.

On 31st March, 2022, SAPO suspended the indefinite blockade temporarily due to the statement by the TPO asking the Government of Manipur to withdraw their state personnel from Kezoltsa forest. Another reason for the suspension SAPO was the appeal they received from the Angami Public Organisation for facilitating their 50 years commemoration plans. However, SAPO has allegedly claimed that it will take actions again if the Manipur government does not abide by the TPO's statement.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to call back the armed personnel deployed in Kezoltsa forest by the Government of Manipur

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

16 Point Agreement between the Government of India and the Naga People’s Convention, dated July 26, 1960
Point no. 12-13 [The Naga Delegation raised the demand of consolidation of forest areas and Contiguous Naga Areas before the Union government]
State of Nagaland Act, 1962
Section 3 [Formation of State of Nagaland].
North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971
[State boundary disputes to be decided as per the 1872 Survey made by Mr. Butlar and Dr. Gordon. SDOs of both states to identify areas of dispute and Deputy Commissioners to settle village boundaries without altering state boundaries]
Minutes of Meeting on Inter-Village Boundary of Nagaland and Manipur, dated May 29, 1982
[State boundary disputes to be decided as per the 1872 Survey made by Mr. Butlar and Dr. Gordon. SDOs of both states to identify areas of dispute and Deputy Commissioners to settle village boundaries without altering state boundaries]
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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Land record discrepancies

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Media-based activism/alternative media

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Nagaland, Government of Manipur

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Southern Angami Public Organization, Southern Angami Youth Organization, The United Committee, Manipur

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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