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Views & Reviews

Facts and Hearsay On Rongmei Issue

By EMN Updated: Oct 21, 2016 9:19 pm

The Rongmei case in Nagaland is quite simple to decide. The Rongmei is not an Indigenous Tribe of Nagaland, nothing more nothing less.

Anyone can find the meaning of “Indigenous” in the Oxford Dictionary which says: ‘Indigenous’ means to belong Naturally to a Place”.

The Rongmei is not Native of Nagaland, they do not naturally belong to Nagaland. They have no traditional Tribe or Villange Territory Land in Nagaland.

Plant, Animal or People of a Place naturally are known as Indigenous; others not Native or not naturally belonging to the Place are known as introduced.

People of Indian origin in Fiji are the majority in the Island but they are not Indigenous, they are Migrants or ‘introduced’ to the Island. Many beautiful Flowers in Nagaland are Introduced and not Indigenous to Nagaland.

The Forest Department of Nagaland once engaged some native Botanists to make a Book on Orchids of Nagaland but when the Book was printed, the Department was sorry to find quite a few of the Orchids were found to be Introduced Garden Species not Indigenous to Nagaland. The Department paid the Researchers but did not Thank them!?

Christianity is not Indigenous to Nagaland, it is an Introduced Religion in Nagaland. Christianity can not be declared an Indigenous Religion by Cabinet neither do the Supreme Court makes Law. Christian Principles like: ‘if someone strikes you on one Cheek, turn the other; if someone takes your cloth by force, give him your Coat also etc, are heavenly principle but the Government do not make them into the Law of the Land.

On the question of Indigenous Tribe, even the White Americans are not Indigenous of North America; it is only the native Red Indians like the Apaches, the Comanches, the Inuis etc are Indigenous. A Naga can settle get Domiciled in Australia but he can not become an Indigenous of Australia.

To be Indigenous to a place, must involve Nature and natural Process, he or she must be Native to the Place. Naga Tribes of ‘Naga Hills and Tuensang-Mon’ Area (now Nagaland), some Kacharis of Dimapur Area including some Mikirs (Karbis) are Indigenous to the Area and some Kukis settled in the Naga Hills well prior to World War I, are Indigenous Tribe of Nagaland. And rightly or wrongly the Garos of Dimapur and Nepalis of Kohima Area have become recognized as Indegenous Inhabitants of Nagaland. Keeping the previledges already given them intact, they may be Re-designated as Domiciled of Nagaland.

The 3 Tribes of Nagaland, though not Naga by Race, were there by a Process of Migration or joust of Power accepted as a Way of settling in a Place in bygone primitive days prior to the British colonization of the Region, are Indigenous Tribe to the Place.

Simply, inclussion in the Electoral Roll of a City or a Village cannot make a person Indigenous tribe of Nagaland. Rongmei is Naga Tribe and some must have settled in Naga Hills for quite some time and have become Domicile in Kohima, Dimapur or in Peren. But they are not Indigenous to Nagaland. They were Introduced to Nagaland for Employment or on political considerations and get the privileges the Government may grant. But the Government can not declare them Indigenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland because they are not.

The “Domiciled” of Nagaland are like Adopted-Child in a Naga Family but do not normally inherit the Adoptive Naga Father’s inheritances equally the same with his (adoptive Father’s) biological children unless the adoptive Father specifically expresses so.

* Nagaland State on 28 April 1977 first attempt, to designate a Domiciled Citizen of Nagaland “for the Purpose of employment” and grant of other political privileges in the State, by Notification No.AR-8/8/76 dt 28 April 1977 by Joint Secretary (A. Shanmugam) Department of Administrative Reforms, GoN requiring the Non-Nagaland Person:

I. must be in the Electoral Roll of 5-12-1963.
II. must have Paid House Tax prior to 1-12-1963.
III. must have Land acquired Patta prior to 1-12-1963.

The Government’s basis for the Rongmei Recognition depended most importantly on the Item I of the 28 April 1977 Notification but no Rongmei was not found in the electoral roll of 1963.

** Again, on 12 March 2013, the Joint Chief Electoral Officer, (N.Moa Aier) of Nagaland, under the compulsion of RTI (Right to Information) Law provided the Applicant Kiesamyi of Jaluke Town, with the official Letter No. Elec/2/2013/1758 dt 12 March 2013, it provided :

I. copy of Electoral Roll 1963 and stated,
II. “the name of Rongmei not found/not available in the Electoral Roll under Kohima District since 1963.”

*** Again the Asstt Election Officer & Pubblic Information Officer, Peren Nagaland (Olivi Thurr) supplied (No. ELE/RTI/2010-13/639 dt Peren10 Jan/2013):
I. “entire set of 1963 E/Roll of Peren District” and wrote
II. “ Particulars members of Rongmie Community could not be traced out from 1963’s E/roll by this office”.

**** Further the DC Peren (N Mesen) in his letter NO. JUDL-5/o6-07 (Pt II)dt 15 Oct/08) stated:
I. the Rongmei Community claimed their forefathers migrated to Peren from Dimapur District numbering 157.
II. There is no Copy of Electoral of 1963 and other official records to ascertain the Claim.

The Home Department could provide every required informations relavant to the subject but the Cabinet in its own wisdom, on 8/Sept/2007 constituted an advisory Committee on the Issue of of Rongmei demand for ‘Indigenous Sub-Naga Tribe of Nagaland.’

The Cabinet did not appear to have given any clear Term of Reference or Time Limit to the advisory Committee and the later took 5 years (2007 – 2012) to submit its Report. The Committee did not appear to have gone deep into the question of ‘Indigenous Tribe of Nagaland’ and appear to have recommended: “the status of Indigenous Rongmei Naga of the state of Nagaland. Such a status, while “entitling them to avail all the benefits of reservation to pursue employment and education, will not make them an indegenous Naga tribe of the State”

This Bureaucratic Committee Recommendation appear to be less than professional in competance; it appears sloppy and inaccurate, because:

i. The Government Notification (NO.AR-8/8/76 dt 28 April 1977) is very clear -Rongmei name not recorded in E/Roll of 1963 is not entitled ‘Indegenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland.

ii. Only those Rongmei name found in the E/Roll of 1963 and their descendants are to be recorded but the Committee Enumerated all Rongmei population of three Districts -Kohima, Dimapur and Peren- and reported a population number of 1313 after correction of discripencies detected though no Rongmei name was found in E/Roll of 1963.

iii. The Committee, Recomending the Rongmei an ‘Indigenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland’ for employment and education privileges but not allowing them Indigenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland Status’ is a paradoxical proposition.

iv. Recommending against a universal social Norm for “political decision” is less than a competant professional advice.

Such conflicting and puzzling Recomendation could have miss-led if not confused the casual uncaring political decision makers of Nagaland!

In addition, several NGOs and the NSCN (IM) very intreguingly and significantly supported the resourceful and powerful State Government on the Issue. This is very unfortunately odd.

There are many things to wail about for Nagaland today but perhaps the Rongmei Issue in Nagaland is one of the most damaging that will affect the future of Nagas of Nagaland, the only beacon of light is in those who fight for the Right of future Nagaland generations, withous expectiong any Praise or Favour. In this beacon of light includes the Court.

The High Court Guwahati (W.P.C No4519/12 of 22.11.2012) has in its Judgement Order said:

The state of Nagaland shall follow the notification dated 28.4.1977 in respect of certificate pertaining to “Indigenous inhabitants” in the state of Nagaland.

This has effectively prevented the Government operation of Rongmei as the ‘Indigenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland’.

The Government of Nagaland would do best to withdraw the recognition of Rongmei as the Indigenous Naga Tribe of Nagaland.

Thepfulhouvi Solo. IFS Ret (RR-68)
Retd Principal Secretary. Nagaland.

By EMN Updated: Oct 21, 2016 9:19:17 pm