Kohima, February 22: The State Government today reiterated its stand that Nagaland is protected against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 by Article 371A of the Constitution of India.
“I feel we are strongly protected by Article 371A against CAB,” Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told the Assembly during the Government’s reply on debate and adoption of the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s Address.
However he said the Government will oppose the proposed Bill if it goes against the wishes of the people, and urged members – both from Treasury and Opposition Benches – to unite on the issue. He said it was only different interpretations by those in the opposition and the treasury benches; otherwise they are not far apart on the CAB issue.
The CM also welcomed the demand of opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) for a special session of the assembly to discuss the CAB and pass a resolution.
Reacting to opposition’s assertion that Article 371A cannot protect the State from the CAB, Rio said the Article ensured Nagaland exists as State, adding that 16 Point Agreement of 1960 Clause 16 clearly mentions about protection of the State through Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFRA). He said according to Article 371A no non-native can possess properties land and properties in Nagaland.
“We should not go against our rights,” he asserted, and asked the members of the House to come together and protect the rights of the State.
Rio said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have categorically stated that CAB will not affect the northeast and urged the members to remain united on the issue.
Earlier, NPF member, Imkong L Imchen accused the Union Government of violating and abrogating some of the Clauses of the 16 Point Agreement, especially on land and its resources and demanded for a special session to discuss the Article 371A. He said the Article does not protect Nagaland any more due to violation of the Clauses by the Union Government unilaterally. “I am no more protected,” he said.
Another senior NPF lawmaker, Khuzoluzo Nienu also said Article 371A cannot protect the State from CAB.
Leader of the Opposition T R Zeliang said Government is making statements on 16 Point Agreements vis-à-vis Article 371A but if it is going to be cherry picking on issues to be strengthened, the State would be led towards darkness and to its own doom. “The Opposition party will give positive and unconditional support to the Government when it comes to protecting the rights and future of the Nagas in the right perspective but as a responsible opposition party we will also point out and vehemently oppose any Government activity which hampers the future of the Naga people,” he cautioned the Government.
Reacting to the Governor’s speech about Nagaland being protected and safeguard under Article 371A, Zeliang said he would disagree with the statement because of the fact that an Act like Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been in force in the State till today with declaration of the State as a “Disturbed Area” being announced every year.
“The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the House of Parliament and it received the assent of the President on September 11, 1958 before the formation of the present State of Nagaland by amalgamation of the erstwhile Naga Hill District of Assam and Tuensang Hill,” he said.
The NPF leader said apart from several resolution adopted by the State Government, various NGOs and civil societies have been expressing their resentment against the draconian Act, adding from the day Nagaland became the 16th State, Nagaland Legislative Assembly has not passed a single resolution accepting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the State and yet it continues to be in operation in the whole of the State.
Zeliang also touched on several issues like Village Development Board (VDB), land encroachment, scholarship of students, etc.
Several lawmakers from the ruling and the opposition took part in the debate but after the reply from the Government, the opposition decided to withdrew their demand for amendments to the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address. (Page News Service)