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Changki dispute: Council rejects Mokokchung admin’s order

By EMN Updated: Feb 16, 2015 10:19 pm

Dimapur, February 16

A village council in Mokokchung, Changki village Council, has rejected administrative order of the Mokokchung deputy commissioner concerning the clannish dispute within the community. On Monday, February 16, Changki Village Council issued a copy of a letter addressed to the deputy commissioner of Mokokchung citing various reasons why the council would not comply with the administration’s directives.
The council issued the letter with the hope that it would “help you to understand better why we cannot implement in our village, the declaratory Order of ADC (J)…” In one good length, the council stated: “We are truly amazed by your zeal, extraordinary enthusiasm and alacrity with which from the very day of your joining as deputy commissioner of Mokokchung you have been taking such keen interest to enforce the above-cited ‘declaratory order’, by issuing one order after another, written as well as verbal, including stoppage of VDB and other grants to Changki (meant for relief and uplift of the poor, and under which law of the land?), deploying one company of Nagaland Police at peaceful Changki village, disturbing the minds of women and children, verbally ordering the Changki Village Council chairman and GBs to execute ‘good behaviour bond’ and 110 Cr.P.C. as if we are common criminals, without assigning any reasons or giving a show cause notice as required…and summoning the whole village council from Changki to Mokokchung, just to have your above letter handed over to the council.”
The council expressed ‘deep regret’ for its inability to implement the ‘declaratory order’ for various reasons: ‘the order directly impinges the founding history of Changki village and Changki’s customary clans connected therewith, which, this or any other Changki Village Council has no power or authority to change. That which was done by our forefathers in time immemorial, can never be changed now in 2015, through a declaratory order brought by a few renegades of one existing clan in the village, in 2006 A.D.’
According to the council, Changki’s age-old customary laws and practices forged by their forefathers centuries ago relating to the village’s clans cannot be changed now by the Changki Village Council, “because we have no power or authority to do so. There are various traditional practices that are done clan-wise and we have no power to change them.”
The village explained that “we have our own customary ways of certain people or citizens joining or merging with another clan in the village.” The council named one Imtajenba and five others and that “the party represented by them belong to the Emremchangki clan. Their real blood brothers of the same clan who are bonafide citizens of Changki have represented to the Changki Village Council that they will not change their clan name, handed down by the Changki forefathers.”
The council explained that Imtajenba and a group of Emremchangki want to become Changkiri clan “which can happen only if there is a merger between the two.” The two clans have distinctively different and separate inheritance lines, village subscriptions, etc., and the Changkiri clan in the village is “totally opposed to the idea of taking into their clan Mr. Imtajenba and his group because such a merger is historically and practically totally impossible to be brought into effect,” the council said.
The letter explained that “by no stretch of the imagination” would the judiciary of Nagaland, and even more so of the country, be affected or destabilized in any way by Changki Village Council refusing to implement the ‘declaratory order’ of the ADC (J) of Mokokchung.
“You have very rightly said that ‘Article 371 (A) does not act in isolation but acts in tandem with other articles laid down in the Constitution.’ You know, however, that provisions of Article 371 (A) are the very foundation and soul of the state of Nagaland. As far as Naga customary law are concerned, you are also fully aware that they differ from village to village, no codification for uniform application has yet taken place, and that Naga villages are the only repositories and living organisms of those provisions of the constitution,” the Changki council stated.
“We firmly believe that the present Changki case is a very strong example of attempting to overturn and nullify in our village our age-old customary laws and practices through a ‘declaratory order’, and that with all due respect to the court of ADC (J) Mokokchung, we cannot allow this precedence to be created by a few renegades of Emremchangki clan from our village.”
The council is “still prepared to the extent of undergoing civil imprisonment for contempt of court, as was earlier ordered by ADC (J), Mokokchung” to “protect our village founding history, customary laws and practices.”
In regard to the dispute in the Changki community, the village said inter-clan issue was a “purely internal matter of Changki, already adjudicated by the village council” in 2001.
In the words of the council, even within the modern statutory laws framed by the government in 1937 and amended from time to time (Rules for the Administration of Justice and Police in Nagaland), the organization “acted strictly within our jurisdiction and competence as a village customary court.”
The suit of 2005 was filed by Imtajenba and five others in 2005, not as an appeal within the prescribed procedure of law, but as an original declaratory suit touching directly on the internal customary matters of Changki, already adjudicated by the village council, and without permission of the council taken by the said person and his company ‘as required by our customary practices in force.’
What ‘naturally followed’, the council stated, were “customary penal actions” which were contrived and construed as human rights violations by the “same renegades.”
“Though we are not questioning here the legality or otherwise of what the ADC (J) Mokokchung had done, your honour may perhaps like to examine the provisions under the rules for administration of justice and police in Nagaland,’ as to whether a customary case within Changki village, already adjudicated by the village customary authority may be summarily taken up as a declaratory suit by a higher court.
The village council said that if anybody wishes to live as Changki citizens, Changki’s customary laws have to be respected and upheld. “Since the present case is Changki’s internal customary issue already adjudicated by the village customary court, we deliberately decided not to go in appeal against the declaratory order dated 08/09/2006, thereby wasting our scarce resources,” the letter to the administrator stated.
“Taking the order, they can go elsewhere to belong wherever they wish, but as long as they wish to be members of Changki village, they have to come under the age-old founding history, customary laws and practices of Changki village. This is, all of Changki’s 13 (thirteen) clans including Emremchangki clan itself, being challenged in respect of our founding history and customs by a few renegade members of Emremchangki clan represented by Mr. Imtajenba and 5 others. Surely, the former cannot be in the wrong, and indeed, the customary evidences against the false claims made by the latter are overwhelming,” the council claimed.
The letter asserted that the council has given ‘complete amnesty and allowed to come inside Changki village despite their numerous actions of treason against Changki village.’ However, the council warned, “if they continue to instigate or commit various actions to try to enforce their totally false declaratory claim, we beg to inform your honour that we shall be compelled to take various appropriate customary disciplinary actions within our village.”
The council claimed that “whether it is they or any other Changki citizen,” it was the only way to “maintain discipline and the rule of law” in the village.

By EMN Updated: Feb 16, 2015 10:19:08 pm