Dimapur, January 17: The ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) today reiterated that Nagaland and its people are protected by Article 317A if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB) does become an Act.
In a communiqué, the NDPP reminded that Article 371A begins with the words “notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of…,” which the party said means that despite of what is in the constitution, no Act of parliament shall apply to the state of Nagaland unless the legislative assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.
“In the present context, to determine whether a person is a Naga citizen along with his or her rights and privileges rests upon the village institutions (e.g: Village Councils) who are the keepers of our traditional and customary laws, practices and procedure, not the government as has been the customary practices of Naga’s since time immemorial which has been further strengthened and protected by Article 371A of the Constitution of India,” it stated.
According to the NDPP, if the CAB does become an Act, the Nagaland Legislative Assembly has the provisions of Article 371A not to implement the same in the state of Nagaland.
The party said this will also not be the first time that the NLA will be referring to the provisions of Article 371A in not implementing an Act of parliament as there have been precedence’s in the past. It reminded that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly decided not to implement the Constitution 73rd Amendment 1992 on the grounds that it infringed upon the provisions of Article 371A of the Constitution and therefore the state of Nagaland has since been exempted from Part IX of the constitution of India that pertains to the Panchayati Raj system since the Nagaland Village & Area Council Act 1978 was already in effect that conforms to our traditional and customary laws, practices and procedures.
Similarly, even in the present context, if this proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 does infringe upon the provisions of Article 371A and the NLA is empowered to decide not to implement the CAB in the State of Nagaland, it stated.
The NDPP also pointed out that the Government of India has given further protection to Nagaland by bringing the State under the purview of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873 (BEFRA) whereby the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is being issued in order to safeguard the Naga’s their citizenship along their rights and privileges from being diluted and to maintain the sanctity of the Naga identity.
The communiqué said BEFRA is one of the pillars to safeguard the Naga citizenship through the exercise of the ILP. “Further, the foundations of the Naga customary law is to preserve and protect the rights, privileges and the citizenship of the Naga people and this has been protected under the gambit of Article 371A in its totality. It will definitely not be wise in viewing Article 371A on a microscopic point of view but rather it should be viewed on a much wider perspective since the Article 371A is a special provision given to the state of Nagaland by the GoI on account of the immense sacrifices made through the blood and tears of the Naga people.”
The NDPP maintained that the ILP not only secures our citizenship along with our rights, but it also helps keep in check the influx of outsiders that are entering the State. “An ILP is given only for a certain period of time and on the expiry of which, the permit holder has to leave the jurisdiction of the state or further renew the permit; it is more like a visa that is issued while visiting other countries. The said permit does not give the permit holder the right to own/purchase any land in Nagaland, nor does it allow the permit holder to apply for any employment under the state government and it definitely does not make the permit holder a Naga citizen. The ILP only allows people from other parts of the country and those foreign nationals holding valid documents to visit Nagaland while at the same time protecting the rights of the people of the state,” it stated.
“It must also be understood that so long as Nagaland remains as a state in the Union of India, we cannot deny entry to those who have the necessary documentations; however, the rights of the people are well protected under the provisions of Article 371A of the Constitution of India. Admittedly, only Dimapur is not covered by the ILP and therefore it will be the endeavour of the NDPP to impress upon our government to ensure that the BEFRA and the ILP is implemented in toto in the entire state of Nagaland including Dimapur and to ensure strict implementation of the ILP.”
The NDPP added that sensing the pulse of the neighbouring states who do not have the provisions and protection of Article 371A, and to place support in solidarity to the voice of North-Eastern brethren’s, the State Cabinet passed a resolution to appraise the GoI to review the CAB and accordingly, the Union Home Minister has publicly assured that a meeting of all NE Chief Ministers will be convened by him at the earliest to discuss the CAB in detail.
Despite all the above safeguards that Nagaland has, the NDPP was of the view that the Government of India exempt Nagaland from the purview of the CAB when it is moved for approval of the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile the NDPP asserted the need to take a fresh look at the prevailing laws and safeguards and undertake necessary measures to enhance and strengthen our laws and regulations. It said the PDA Government has already instituted a high powered committee to look at these aspects and put forth recommendations to the State Government which will include consideration of introduction of work permits, extension of ILP to the entire state including Dimapur district and use of modern technology to better monitor and effectively implement and strengthen existing laws.
The NDPP was of the view that introduction of work permits will enable the Government machinery to better monitor the floating and labour population while also creating avenues to increase the revenue of the State through such a mechanism.
Stating that the PDA Government will leave no stone unturned and take every possible measure to ensure that the citizens of Nagaland are protected and safeguarded from any eventuality, the NDPP assured the people of Nagaland that the PDA and it’s leadership will continue to strive for the interest of the people.
“We are confident that the people are intelligent enough not to be swayed by mere political rhetoric aimed at gaining cheap political gains by making misleading statements,” it added.
(Page News Service)