CM’s statement on Rongmei recognition, ILP misleading: NTC
DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 8
Reacting to the comment of chief minister TR Zeliang on the issue of Rongmei tribe recognition and that of the Inner Line Permit (ILP), Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) while terming it as ‘misleading,’ has said the former is confused about the status of his own citizens.
A couple of days ago the chief minister’s comment had appeared in a section of local media on these issues.
In a press communique issued today, NTC said the infamous 1313 enumerated list of Rongmei indigenous inhabitants was nullified by the state’s own election department stating that ‘Rongmei is not found/not available in the electoral roll under Kohima district since 1963’ vide Letter No. Ele/RTI-2/2013/1758 dated Kohima, the 12th of March, 2013. Further, Letter No. Ele/RTI/2010-13 dated Peren, the 10th January, 2013 stated that ‘particular members of Rongmei community could not be traced out from 1963 E/Roll’. “The 1313 figure was out of random enumeration and not by mandated policy through an independent commission,” it also said. “The NTC therefore, does not accept this as legal figure,” the press note added.
“The chief minister may be right to say that Rongmei is a ‘scheduled tribe’ by a notification from the Government of India, but to recognize any tribe as indigenous inhabitant or indigenous tribe in the State is the prerogative of that particular State Government”, asserted the NTC.
It stated that Rongmei is a scheduled tribe listed as ‘indigenous tribe’ in the State of Manipur and not Nagaland.
“The Government of Nagaland, Home Department Letter No. HOME /SCTA-1/86(PT) dated Kohima, the 16th August, 2002 signed by HK Khulu, IAS, Home Commission addressed to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India declared the list of recognized tribes in the State of Nagaland and those tribes are Angami, Chakhesang, Khemnuingam, Konyak, Lotha, Pochury, Sangtam, Ymchunger, Ao, Chang, Phom, Rengma, Sumi, Zeliang, Kuki and Kachari,” the NTC press release pointed out.
According to NTC, the Committee to examine the issue of granting the status of indigenous Naga tribe to the members of Rongmei community had clearly stated in its recommendation that granting the status of indigenous Rongmei Naga inhabitants of the State of Nagaland to those Rongmeis be to those who were qualified as per the criteria so notified vide No. AR-8/8/76 dated Kohima the 28th of April, 1977. NTC however said such a status, while entitling them to avail all benefits of reservation to pursue employment and education will not make them an indigenous Naga tribe of the State.
“Despite the clear recommendation after thorough examination on legal and physical realities, the State cabinet blatantly overruled the expert Committee which was constituted by no other than the State cabinet,” the NTC press note said. NTC also said the report of the Committee was set aside and blatantly took a political decision to recognize the Rongmei community as indigenous tribe of Nagaland. “The wisdom of the cabinet ministers present on such meeting appending their signatures on such decision against the will and wishes of the Nagas of Nagaland will be recorded for posterity,” NTC affirmed. NTC also said it will not leave any room for such blunder to go unopposed.
On the Inner Line Permit issue, NTC said the chief minister’s statement on the issue which appeared on October 7 in local dailies seems to reflect the Government’s own failure to effectively enforce and regulate ILP. The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (ILP) Act, 1873 was partially modified by the present Government. The NTC said it resents the ‘shallowness’ on the expression of the chief minister to attribute ILP as a mere mechanism to screen the tourists or visitors. NTC clarified that the purpose of ILP is to checkmate the influx of illegal outsiders from becoming legal citizens of Nagaland so that the indigenous Nagas of Nagaland are protected from all aspect of exploitations. NTC felt that there is a crucial need to create necessary infrastructures to monitor and enforce the law effectively and fulfill the ideals of the act rather than relying on the civil societies such as NSF, ASU, AKM, CSU or other local bodies.
“What NTC expects of the chief minister of Nagaland is to realize the subsequent ramifications when the basic protective and fundamental legal pillars are weakened or dislocated,” the NTC note said while adding, “It is the duty of the elected Government to act as custodian of our laws and implement it in letter and in spirit”.