A peep into Banuo Commission’s ‘Background Note’
KOHIMA, APRIL 21: Even as the Nagaland Government is tiptoeing its way towards finalising the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) ~ leaving a trail of uncertainty all around, in the process ~ its ‘Background Note’ presented at the April 16 consultative meeting in Kohima could provide some crucial insights into the idea, purpose and mechanism of the Register.
The ‘Background Note on Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland’ seen by Nagaland Page highlights the various recommendations, made by the Banuo Commission on RIIN, aimed at strengthening the mode and manner of issuing Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate so as to completely curb ineligible person from obtaining such certificate.
It also lists the “the way forward for implementation of these recommendations to build the envisaged robust system that would be extremely difficult to abuse, after taking into consideration the existing protocols and systems for issue of Indigenous Inhabitant Certificates, the experiences gathered over the decades in all the matters concerning the aforesaid, and the need for moving forward in a smooth manner”.
Enumeration by Village Councils
According to the note, the “central and most crucial constituent” in helping decide and conclude on any matter regarding whether a person is indigenous or not is the Village Council as every indigenous inhabitant in the State can trace his or her ancestry to some village.
“After going through the suggestions and recommendations of the RIIN Commission and taking other aspects into account, it is felt that this system could be further strengthened by asking Village Councils to enumerate all the indigenous inhabitants of that village including those who have settled in towns and cities and prepare a list. In the list, the lineage of any person should be traced for two to three generations back. Such a list should be made and then it could be updated from time to time by the village by adding the newborns mentioning clearly the parents and the lineage. A format for preparing the enumeration list and for subsequent updating could be prepared and shared with all the Village Councils,” the note added.
Further, the enumerated list should be used for creation of a Register, which would be ultimately in digital form and part of a centralised/distributed database, and would be done by a village which was existing in 1963 when the State got formed, it stated.
“Such a village called the Original Village. If from the Original Village, the people have moved to another village, after 1963 and are settled there, then such persons and their descendants will be enumerated in the list of the present village, which could be called the Second Village. However the Second Village will share the list so prepared with the Original Village the person or his forefathers claim to have come from, so that the details provided are authenticated.
“While tracing the lineage, two to three generations back, if there are cases of adoption at any level in between, the same should be reflected in the lists so prepared, and in any case where the Village Council is unable to take a decision regarding the claim of indigenousness of such persons, it should be brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner who will decide on the basis of the existing guidelines of the Government in these matters,” the Background Note stated.
In any case of dispute regarding the claim of indigenousness which the Village Council is unable to resolve, the matter should be referred to the DC for a decision, who may also take advice from the Tribal Hoho in deciding the dispute, it added.
Further, the Chairman of Village Council and Head GB will be responsible for maintaining and updating the lists. Any Chairman or member of the Village Council or GB found guilty of preparing a false list of indigenous inhabitants, or guilty of giving false endorsement or certificate will be liable for immediate termination from his post.
4 non-Naga tribes
“The Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribes Order 1970 besides the Nagas, mentions four other tribes, namely, Kuki, Garo, Mikir (Karbi) and Kachari who are residents of the State as Scheduled Tribes of Nagaland. People from these tribes have had villages within the State of Nagaland before 1963. The population however over the decades for some tribes has come down because of many migrating out to other States. In view of this, it is suggested that enumeration may be done for all the persons of these four tribal communities who have been staying in the State from before 01/12/1963 so that the protection and the privileges due to the indigenous inhabitants of the State are also available to them without any discrimination,” it proposed.
Further, if the Original Villages of the four tribes still exist, they may initiate the process of enumeration. Also in other cases where the villages are no more, with the persons from such communities now living permanently in towns of the State, the DC will be given the charge developing a format under the guidance of the Home Department, and with the involvement of the respective tribal union or organisation, will prepare a list and such person will be issued with non-Naga indigenous Inhabitant Certificate.
One of the most important aspects of RIIN is to identify non-tribals who have settled in the State prior to December 1, 1963, some living here even before India got independence. Such persons are presently being considered eligible for getting benefits similar to what an indigenous inhabitant gets.
“However, it is found that many of the benefits and privileges that could be claimed by such persons have been left undefined and thus have been subjective. Such a scenario has arisen partly because of not making a proper attempt to clearly identify those who have been here from before 01/12/1963 and given them a status along with their descendants, who have continued staying here, different from those who have come after 01/12/963,” the Note added.
The suggestion it offered was to consider a person or his/her parents/grandparents who had settled in Nagaland prior to 01/12/1963 and has continued to live here since then, as a “permanent resident”.
It further suggested a 5-member panel to identify such persons. All “permanent residents” can enjoy benefits and privileges, will be eligible to possess immovable property and will not require Inner Line Permit.
Pre-1940 Gorkha settlers
“The Gorkha community ~ the pre-1940 settlers, are being presently considered as Indigenous non-Naga local residents. It is felt that while the State Government had given them a status different from that of other non tribal inhabitants, they can’t be categorised as ‘Indigenous’ as they also had come from outside to the erstwhile Naga Hills, with the British, and further the place they first established their township/settlements were on land already belonging to particular villages of the various Naga tribes. It is hence suggested to consider them also as ‘Permanent Residents’, together with the other non-tribal groups that settled in Nagaland before 1963,” it read.
However, the families that have been notified through Government Notification of 1974 may be identified as Gorkhas having the rights as defined by said notification while others may be identified as ‘Nepalis’, it suggested.
“The Nepalis shall be enumerated and categorised as Permanent Residents or otherwise after due verification and enumeration for the specific category. The change in nomenclature will not deny or deprive them of benefits previously enjoyed by them. The enumeration of Gorkhas ~ the pre-1940 settlers, could also be done in the manner prescribed above for other Permanent Residents,” the Note stated.
ILP and cut-off date
Regarding ILP, the Background Note stated that the State Government, in December 2019, had decided that any non-indigenous inhabitant of Dimapur, who is able to prove his/her continuous stay in Dimapur prior to November 21, 1979, on the basis of documents, to the satisfaction of the local administrative officer will be exempt from ILP, and will have rights to immovable property in Dimapur sub-division area.
“It may be noted that the 21/11/1979 cut-off for ILP is only for the area of Dimapur sub-division which became a tribal area from that date, and not for any other area of the State,” it clarified.
Adoption and customary laws
“An issue that was brought out during the various deliberations on the indigenousness of an individual is with regard to the different traditions that exist within our various tribes on the question of adoption. It also brings up the need to codify and document our traditional laws, including in relation to laws related to adoption and related issues. We need to come out with a code of all customary laws and practices which captures the diversity across our villages and tribes, but at the same time, is acceptable and practically implementable,” it suggested.
It may be mentioned that the April 16 consultative meeting had decided to set up a Joint Consultative Committee to work on the implementation of RIIN after thoroughly examining the Banuo Commission report.
(Page News Service)