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Govt in Catch-22 situation over RIIN


Kohima, August 8: The Nagaland Government is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea over the proposed Registration of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) as views pours in from various quarters.
While there was a consensus on checking influx of people from outside, the proposal for carrying out RIIN exercise has generated mixed reactions from various quarters, including political parties. With the Government in dilemma over the issue the only option left is to wait for the Banuo Z. Jamir Commission’s report which was constituted by the Government recently.
But observing the issue, RIIN may not see the light of the day until proper modalities and mechanisms are worked out.
Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio today categorically told the Assembly that the Government will wait for the report of the Commission and there will be further deliberation on the issue, in and outside the Assembly, to reach for a consensus decision. But he also added that Government will not go against the wishes of the people and that RIIN will not be imposed on them.
He said the proposed exercise is to weed out people who are possessing bogus indigenous certificates and regularize real indigenous people of the State. But he also admitted that RIIN will be a herculean task and time consuming. “We don’t care even if it takes time. It is very important,” he added.
The CM assured the House that Government will take people along with them to work out modalities before the exercise is carried out. “We shall take a corrective measure,” he assured.
But he said during the process of RIIN, the Government will see that no non-Naga is harassed as the exercise is to protect both Nagas and genuine non-Nagas who have settled in Nagaland, adding the purpose is to check influx of illegal immigrants.
He also suggested for correction of earlier notification on indigenous issue.
On the issue of Inner Liner Permit (ILP), Rio said the Government is also looking into effective implementation throughout the State and sought cooperation from the people. But at the same time, he took a jibe at the officers who are responsible for randomly issuing the ILP against Government’s rules and regulation. He expressed Government’s intention and view on the period of validity of ILP for business people, professionals, expertise, teachers etc. He said Nagas cannot live and progress alone. “We can’t live without them,” he said.
Rio also informed the Assembly that there is a process for documentation of Naga customary practices of all the tribes and the task has been entrusted to the respective tribes. This exercise is to have a common use of customary practices.
Taking part in the discussion on matters of urgent public importance on the RIIN and ILP today in the Assembly, former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition T R Zeliang said there have been for and against the RIIN from various quarters which is healthy practice in a democratic set up but he also asked the Government to take up the matter in a prudent and meticulous manner instead of imposing on the people. “All members of this August House are equal in the sense that we are all elected Members, be it the Treasury bench or Opposition bench. Therefore issue which requires deliberation by the members of the Legislative Assembly needs to be first discussed in the Assembly instead of taking unilateral decisions and placing the matter before the masses as a unanimous decision,” he said.
He said while the initiative to implement RIIN would be a herculean task, the attempt of the Government to club together two different issues – RIIN and ILP is nothing more than eyewash to deviate and escape from its assurance to implement ILP in Dimapur district.
“Coming to RIIN, it is imperative to deliberate and define the term indigenous Nagas. It is understood that the Government plans to take the 1963 E/Roll as the basis to define who is an indigenous Nagas and who is not. However if you study the case of how our Naga village functions, it will throw a different a different light and open rooms for a thorough deliberations as to who is indigenous and who is not,” he told the House.
He said though Abhishek Sing Committee report has recommended for RIIN there is no clear mention and definition of indigenous Nagas other than basing it on 1963 E/Roll. “Let us take the case of adoption in a Naga family who adopts a non-indigenous Naga or worse, adopts a non-Naga while giving the person a Naga name and a Naga surname,” he said. He asked whether only Naga father and mother’s name will be entered in the list or would the name of the adopted child also be included in the list and treat the child as any other indigenous Naga. “This is only a small illustration but it brings to fore the need for further deliberations with all stakeholders otherwise the whole herculean task of maintaining this master list of Indigenous Naga will be a futile exercise and also do more harm than good,” Zeliang cautioned.
On the issue of ILP, the Leader of the Opposition insisted that no further confusion should be created among the people and the Government should implement the same stringently. He said trying to put together ILP and RIIN in the same breath would only prolong the matter and thus risk the infiltration of more illegal immigrants into the state. He asked the Government to bifurcate the issue of ILP and RIIN. He asked the Commission on RIIN to carry out an in-depth study of the matter and place their report in the House for further deliberation. Proper modalities need to be worked out so that no citizen is deprived and no hue and cry arises like with the NRC in Assam.
Deputy Chief Minister, Y. Patton said the purpose of RIIN is to check bogus indigenous people and to check influx of illegal immigrants. He said Government is committed to strength the ILP regime and that RIIN exercise will be comprehensive.
Advisor, Information and Public Relations, Toshi Wungton said there should not be discrimination while implementing the RIIN, adding that this exercise would be a tool to identify citizens of the State.
NPF legislator, Maotoshi Longkumer said implementation of ILP in Dimapur district would not be effective due to porous borders but RIIN could help check the influx of outsiders. He suggested that all trade licenses of illegal immigrants be cancelled in a time bound manner, no tenancy be given to them and stop employment of immigrants from Bangladesh.
Minister for Planning and Coordination, Neiba Kronu said Nagas are indigenous in all contiguous areas like Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar and therefore there is a political problem with the Government of India. He said Government’s decision to carry out RIIN was not to discriminate any genuine Indians as they have contributed much for the growth and progress of the state.
After two days of marathon discussion on the issue the House was adjourned by the Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu without any decision or resolution on the issue. (Page News Service)