Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) has termed the statement on Rongmei recognition issue made by Nagaland chief minister T.R.Zeliang which appeared in the October 6 issue of Nagaland Post as “totally misleading” and “poorly reflected” the mindset of the chief minister as being confused about “ the status of his own citizens”.
Reacting to the chief minister’s statement made at an interview to this newspaper, NTC media cell pointed out that the 1313 enumerated list of Rongmei indigenous inhabitants were nullified by the state’s own election department which stated that “Rongmei is not found/not available” in the electoral roll under Kohima district since 1963. Further NTC mentioned that as per letter No.Ele/RTI-2/2013/1758 dated Kohima the 12th March 2013 and letter No.Ele/RTI/2010-13 dated Peren, the 10th January 2013, it was stated that “ particular members of Rongmei community could not be traced out from 1963 E/Roll”.
NTC contended that the 1313 figure was “ out of random enumeration and not by mandated policy through an independent commission” and therefore, it “does not accept this as legal figure”. In addition, NTC while conceding that the chief minister might be right in stating that Rongmei “ is a scheduled tribe” by a notification from the government of India; yet recognition of any tribe as “indigenous inhabitant or indigenous tribe” in the state was the prerogative of that particular state government.
It also pointed out that the state home department vide letter No. HOME/SCTA-1/86 (PT) dated Kohima, the 16th August 2002, signed by the home commissioner H.K. Khulu IAS and addressed to the ministry of tribal affairs, government of India, had declared the following as recognised tribes in the state of Nagaland: 1. Angami; 2. Chakhesang; 3. Khiamniungan; 4. Konyak; 5. Lotha; 6. Pochury; 7. Sangtam; 8. Yimchunger; 9. Ao; 10. Chang; 11.Phom; 12.Rengma; 13. Sumi; 14. Zeliang; 15. Kuki and 16. Kachari.
NTC also pointed out that the committee constituted to examine the issue of granting the status of indigenous Naga tribe to the Rongmei community, had “clearly stated” in its recommendation, on granting status as indigenous Naga inhabitants of Nagaland to Rongmeis qualified as per criteria as notified vide No.AR-8/8/76 dated Kohima the 28th of April 1977. It said the committee had stated that while entitling the 1313 Rongmei avail all benefits of reservation to pursue employment and education, but that “ will not make them an indigenous Naga tribe of the state”.
NTC maintained, that despite the clear recommendation made after thorough examination on legal and physical realities, the state cabinet had “blatantly overruled the expert committee, which was constituted by no other than the state cabinet”.
It said the cabinet set the report aside and “blatantly took up political decision to recognise the Rongmei community as indigenous tribe of Nagaland”. NTC said the wisdom of the cabinet minister present on such meeting who appended their signatures against the will and wishes of the Nagas of Nagaland “will be recorded for posterity” but vowed it (NTC) will “not leave any room for such blunder to go unopposed”. On the issue of BEFR (ILP)Act 1873, NTC said the present government had partially modified it as evident from the statement made by the chief minister which appeared in the local dailies on October 7 adding it spoke about the government’s own failure to effectively enforce and regulate ILP.
NTC expressed resentment at the “shallowness on the expression of the chief minister to attribute ILP as a mere mechanism to screen the tourists or visitors”. NTC asserted the purpose of the ILP was to check influx of outsiders from becoming legal citizens of Nagaland so that indigenous Nagas of Nagaland were protected from all aspects of exploitations.
It urged for creating necessary infrastructures to monitor and enforce the ILP effectively rather than depending on civil societies such asNSF,ASU,AKM, CSU or other local bodies to do so.
NTC said it expected the chief minister of Nagaland to realise the consequent ramifications when the basic protective and fundamental legal pillars are weakened or dislocated. It reminded the elected government of its duty to act as custodian of laws and implement them in letter and in spirit.
Source: Naga Land Post