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Nagaland government’s register of indigenous inhabitants hits roadblock

Civil society groups and rebel outfit NSCN (I-M) have opposed the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) and have questioned its timing.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2019 16:02 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Nagaland,nagaland government,RIIN
The NSCN-(I-M), Nagaland’s largest rebel group said the government’s move to prepare a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland was “contradictory” to the inherent rights of the Nagas.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Nagaland’s move to prepare a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), dubbed as the state’s own version of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has hit a roadblock after opposition from civil society groups and the rebel group NSCN (I-M) with questions over its timing even as talks between Naga insurgent groups and central government remain inconclusive.

The state government has promised to hold a consultation on July 17 with the civil society organizations to dispel their fears, a top official said.

On Friday, the NSCN(I-M), the major Naga rebel outfit which signed a framework agreement with the Government of India in 2015, criticized the Nagaland state government’s move in a strongly worded statement and said “integration of all Naga territories is officially acknowledged by the central government as the legitimate right of the Nagas, except by a few treacherous opportunists who are opposed to it.”

The NSCN (I-M) called the government’s move “contradictory” to the inherent rights of the Nagas who will not accept their division by artificial state or international boundaries.

“It is politically motivated to suit the interest of the groups advocating for the ‘16-Point Agreement’. The Nagaland state does not and will not represent the national decision of the Naga people. It was formed purely to divide the Nagas,” the statement said.

The NSCN (I-M) also said since the talks for a political solution are still inconclusive, “therefore, any attempt to dilute the final political settlement by justifying any past accord of treasons should be seriously viewed by all Nagas.”

Other bodies like the Naga Hoho have also criticized the state government’s decision and questioned the timing of the move. “They should have maintained a status quo. What was the need of this new exercise now at a time when the talks are in a crucial stage?” asked Chuba Ozukum, the president of the Naga Hoho adding the desire of the Naga people is to live together and an exercise like the RIIN would lead to further divisions of the Naga society.

“We are all Nagas. The Nagas from other states are also living here. This decision would have serious ramifications,” said Ozukum adding that even the cut-off date for the RIIN was not clear.

Chief Secretary Temjen Toy said a consultative meeting will be held with civil society groups on July 17 on the RIIN which according to him is “a record, a register of indigenous inhabitants including indigenous Naga tribes and the non-Naga indigenous people as per the April 28, 1977 notification.”

According to the notification, individuals or parents or guardians who are on the electoral rolls published on December 5, 1963, who have been paying house tax prior to December 1, 1963 and those who have acquired land ownerships prior to December 1, 1963 are eligible for indigenous inhabitant certificate. Nagaland became a state on December 1, 1963.

Toy said the RRIN is a recommendation of the state government’s committee on implementation of Inner Line Permit. Another official involved in the committee said the RRIN was needed to prepare a centralized database of indigenous inhabitants as the state government does not have an estimate of how many such certificates have been issued.

On July 11, R Ramakrishnan, the then Home Commissioner who has since been replaced by Abhijeet Sinha, issued a statement that the guidelines for implementation of the polices are at an early stage of formulation and will be finalised after extensive consultations.

In June, the state government had notified that an exercise to prepare the RIIN will begin on July 10 and will be completed within 60 days.

First Published: Jul 14, 2019 11:03 IST