No EPIC for illegal immigrants
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) is a new but novel concept with the aim of ensuring legitimacy of the voters concerned. And that is as it should be. What is of major and imperative concern is that anything no matter how advanced can also be misused or hacked into and where electoral matters are concerned this must also be the prime factor for all Nagas to be very careful about.It is in this context that the Naga Students Federation (NSF) has taken upon itself to caution the Election department and by extension the Government of Nagaland against issuing EPIC to illegal immigrants of whichever community in the recent exercise of certification of re-publication and error correction of electoral rolls for summary revision 2014.
Many Naga businessmen tend to prefer giving employment to non-Nagas who indeed work hard to survive. While at the same time, many genuine Nagas interested for a break get sidelined. The cause has been that many locals have failed to live up to expectations where employment is concerned or give up half-way for an easier life.
It would be in the greater interest of the Nagas as a whole if those involved in any level of business be it contract or supply works or any other commercial activity, try and give genuine locals the first preference. As it is, many non-locals including illegal immigrants come to Nagaland without knowing anything about their jobs but learn on the job.
A recent study carried by the Nagaland department of statistics show that in Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung only, the non-locals involved in all kinds of business send on average Rs 500 crores back to their homes outside the State. The only money they spend locally is on food, drinks, house rent and clothes. The survey does not include non-locals plus illegal immigrants in other urban or semi-urban areas in other districts. If more Naga youth would work diligently, these non-locals will simply go away when they find no employment.
As for non-Naga Indians, they more or less ultimately go back home but the illegal immigrants try and stay on and after pleasing their Naga employers even get proper documents legitimizing their status thus making them eligible to be included in the electoral rolls. Besides, for politically vested interests some local politicians also try and cash in on these illegal immigrants for their votes.
It is to be here mentioned that because of such vested interests, Tripura has been swamped and now Assam is also having problems in various parts of the State. According to official reports there are about two lakh illegal immigrants settled in the DAB (Disturbed Area Belt) between Assam-Nagaland border and these illegal immigrants are even trying to vote to power their very own candidate as has happened in Assam. Therefore, the NSF has rightly pointed out that it is high time that Nagas realized the consequences of giving voting rights to the illegal immigrants. The Bharatiya Janta Yuva Manch (BJYM) also shares the same concern of the NSF. Interestingly, the NPCC has not commented yet on this development.
At the same time, these illegal immigrants also belong to a community some of whose members are also genuine citizens of the State. So, all these factors must be taken into consideration. Let us not suffer because of the selfish interests of a few vested interests. Only genuine voters must be given the chance to exercise their franchise.