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Op-Ed

My Years in Service

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By EMN Updated: Jan 02, 2014 10:07 pm
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CONTINUED-20…

The political class will never see anything beyond a vote to be capitalised upon and the general administration only pay secondary attention without realising the dangerous demographical change our casual focus is going to impact upon the Nagas eventually. ILP needs to be upgraded to a passport issuing strictures with more stringent verification process and each ILP holder should be restricted only to an annual period with break in the renewal system to ensure no legal voting rights is accrued. The present laxity has to be checked…but who is listening?

[dropcap]I [/dropcap]had already completed 3years at Kiphire and running into the fourth year. With the consistency of transfers within 3-6 months stints that I had been through, it would have been more convenient and desirable for me to have sent my school going children to a boarding school elsewhere, but I could ill afford such a luxury. My eldest daughter Hekali and my son Akinito were now attending school at Loyala School under ‘Other People’s Brand’ smoking Catholic Principal. My third child Ninoto, a son, was born in Kiphire in our official residence in 1984 under the able hands of Dr. Phukan. By 1986 the fourth child, Kivitoli, a daughter, was born. I jokingly say that my eldest daughter, though actually born in Kohima but while posted at Naginimora, is therefore a Konyak. My first son was born while in Aghunato and therefore a Sumi from the backwoods country. The next son and daughter are Sangtams. My Tribal family assembly line was now complete, blessed with two sons and two daughters. I had played every conceivable role of an administrator including the role of a Reverend. Reverend Khekiye had Raj Verma, my Circle Officer, quietly married in his inner common room as a makeshift court and shared ladoos. I had created enough havoc in Kiphire and there was no more havoc left to be havocked. I felt my time to move on was neigh. But now that I was in the jungle out post, the Government had literally forgotten about my existence. Then to my horror I discovered that a representative of GBs had quietly gone to Kohima campaigning against my transfer without informing me. When I heard about it later I was pretty upset. Fortunately by 23rd October 1986 my 10th transfer order in a twelve years service was received. I was now slated to work with Madam Banou Jamir, the Deputy Commissioner, as her ADC Kohima.
Two main agendas were put on my lap on arrival at Kohima: 1. Do a very thorough Government land encroachment by the public; 2. Streamline inner line regulatory mechanism. The first job on the ground took up a lot of working hours but it threw up a horrible picture of rampant indiscipline both by the Land owners, the VIP, the bureaucrats and public in general. Most of the bureaucrats had purchased the available spaces adjacent to their own official residence from the land owners who showed no restraint in the disposal of the land that once belonged to them but had been given to the Govt. The revenue map of Kohima had well and truly been tempered with and it became a difficult proposition to authenticate Govt. Land holdings in each sector of this township. Private building were being constructed adjacent to the Govt. quarters without leaving even a drainage space resulting in even the windows of some of the existing Govt. buildings not being able to be opened. Private structures were constructed above the roofs of the Govt. buildings and heavy encroachment into public thoroughfare were a common place scenario. A Minister’s building had steps coming way into the main narrow road near the Power House. Such extreme cases were immediately taken care of…we had it removed despite complaint from the concerned. Orders were issued to all residents on the roadside to remove all the construction materials dumped on the roadside, causing traffic inconvenience. The public showed scant respect to this order. They never believed that the Govt. would carry out the order issued and realised their miscalculation much too late. After the expiry of the dateline given we organized Govt. trucks with labourers and began confiscating the dumping. In some sectors the owners did a frantic retrieving of their construction materials racing against our truck loading exercise. I allowed them that privilege and competed with the owners in loading the trucks as the owners desperately salvaged whatever they could. Enthusiastic passerby spectators cheered them on. We had this tournament in quite a good number of sectors but finally the news spread fast and the construction material on the roadside disappeared like magic. All confiscated materials were dumped in the local ground and later auctioned out. The roads were reasonably cleared. A very elaborate report was submitted to the Commissioner’s Office after almost six months of exhaustive field verification was completed with the appropriate recommendations… it only remained recommended.
The Inner Line Pass (ILP) was being issued without much regulation being observed or restrictions being imposed. The continuity of renewal without a break of dates was giving the ILP holder a legitimate legal status in Nagaland…the right to register in the electoral roll. This system had to be drastically overhauled. A new order was therefore issued making it mandatory for all ILP seekers to produce their home town Police ID verification along with passport size photographs. Renewals without the break of days was discontinued. ILP would now be deposited for renewal, and the holder would be issued with a temporary receipts which would have to be produced and surrendered before receiving the original ILP renewed. The continuity break was taken care of through this. The office was now receiving a huge pile of police verification report written in Hindi, which I just didn’t have the patience to go through. In a moment of humorous stupidity even in my official dealings I began a series of endorsements in Sema…”hiye kiu pi ani kea”? (What is this saying?) over the Hindi written verification report. Each of these reports was piling up in the branch without action being initiated and absentmindedly being neglected. What followed was a hilarious drama. One morning I was called by the DC. When I entered her room I found a very stern looking Mr. Jasokie sitting with her. The DC requested Mr. Jasokie to explain his agitation to me. He turned to me and bluntly said, “Why are you harassing my non-local voters”? I was totally taken off guard. He continued in annoyance, “This outright partisan attitude is not appreciated”. What he was hinting at was that I was showing partiality by refusing to issue ILP to his non-local supporters in support of my brother-in-law Tracy Medom who was contesting against him in Town. I was not too sure why this was actually happening and therefore decided to call the dealing assistant in the ILP branch. What he simply said was that he did not know how to deal with the ILP issue with the confusing noting by the ADC. He was asked to produce all the pending cases. He did… a pile of it, and pointed out to my endorsements in Sumi dilect, “Hiye kiu pi ani kya”? All of us in the room laughed out in unison…including Mr. Jasokie. He was satisfied that the delay had nothing to do with politics and only requested for early attendance to the cases before leaving. Aside from the comical conclusion to this little misunderstanding the more serious implication of non-locals becoming a potential voter is something that no one seems to pay any attention to up to the present day. The political class will never see anything beyond a vote to be capitalised upon and the general administration only pay secondary attention without realising the dangerous demographical change our casual focus is going to impact upon the Nagas eventually. ILP needs to be upgraded to a passport issuing strictures with more stringent verification process and each ILP holder should be restricted only to an annual period with break in the renewal system to ensure no legal voting rights is accrued. The present laxity has to be checked…but who is listening?
The next run in on ILP case happened when around 9 ILP defaulters were arrested from the construction work site right next to the North Police Station. An angry complaint letter written in red ink was received by the DC from Mr. Z. Lohe, then Minister, Power Department, against my action. He had deployed non-local labourers without arranging ILP for them. Red ink or not I refused to release the defaulters and made the Minister go through the process of getting them a proper ILP first after observing all the requisite formalities.
One incident that saddened me deeply was the killing of Zakope, grotesquely lying on a bench in a nondescript local tea hotel near the North Police Station. The Underground activities was becoming increasingly rampant and the fear psychosis was palpable. The Police were given stringent orders to investigate the case by the DC, Kohima. However, no one was prepared to testify. The utter helplessness of the District Administration in the absence of public support due to the fear factor, was frustratingly damning.
The By now my tenure in this District was nearing a year and by 25th September 1987 marching orders was received again for the 11th time in a twelve and a half years of service, to join Power Department as a Deputy Secretary. Of all the Departments, I was being slated to join the author of the ‘red ink letter’ complainant, Mr. Z. Lohe. It was a mundane uneventful tenure as a file pusher under Mr. R. Ezung, the Secretary of the Department. The only unpleasant incident that I vaguely recall was the one with Mr. Nikhuosto. He had come to the branch and for whatever his problem was, slapped the Superintendent of the branch. On receipt of the complaint I confronted him and asked him to render his apologise to the Superintendent. I was not prepared to have my subordinates manhandled this a way under my watch. He walked out of the office without doing so. I threatened to call the Police but it infuriated him more. While I was trying to call up the Police, Mr. Nikhuotso stood on the road in front of the office and dared me to personally come out and face him, accusing me of having caused his loss in the election which he lost by a very thin margin against Mr. Shurhozulie. He was a very frustrated man seemingly itching for a fight and making everyone responsible for his electoral loss. Having being sufficiently provoked I was on my way out to confront him after completing the call to the Police, which had taken sometime. It was then that Mr. Renchamo, my Secretary, came running into the branch and caught hold of me, saying it would be unbecoming for an officer to be having a physical discussion with the public in the open street, no matter what the aggravation. While this drama was going on, Mr. Nikhuotso was led away by some of his people and thus averted an unpleasant confrontation. The Police came much after everything had calmed down. I however insisted that Nikhuotso be arrested and not be released until he apologised. He finally did. The short circuit was repaired. My tenure in this Department lasted till June 1988. Then came a strange unusual meeting. I was called up by the Chief Secretary, Mr. Obed with Mr. TCK Lotha, Home Commissioner, Mr. Jakhalu, Commissioner and Mr. Shamnugam, P.S to CM in sitting. I was being sent on promotion as Deputy Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, New Delhi. It was a time when Delhi Naga Student’s Union was agitating against the incumbent Deputy Resident Commissioner. This was an assignment that most of the Naga Officers would have looked at as a punishment posting at that time and my feelings was no different…that too under an unpleasant atmosphere of an ongoing Student’s agitation. It did occur to me that every promotion given to me thus far was tagged with what was considered a difficult station, never allowed a wholesome feeling of elation. They wanted some order be established in the management of the State House in Delhi. Having no real choice in the proceeding, I only got their guarantee that they would back me up when the rules of engagement was uniformly applied without exception…and accepted the assignment.
This was my 12th transfer having completed 14 years of active service. By July 7th 1988 I was hooked to Nagaland House assignment at New Delhi. What hit me straight was the free for all atmosphere reigning in this establishment. I will let you know how I cleaned the bed sheets, allotted rooms to the VIPs and detailed duty vehicles in Nagaland House. Not a very exciting prospect of a good story, you would say I’m sure but see you next week.
The writer is a retired IAS Officer Forest Colony, Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Jan 02, 2014 10:07:34 pm