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Plea in SC seeks protection for non-Nagas in Dimapur

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New Delhi, June 23: A petition filed before the Supreme Court has sought a direction to the Centre and the Nagaland government to take appropriate steps for the protection of life and liberty, properties and other fundamental rights of non-Nagas living in the commercial hub of Dimapur following the imposition of the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, has challenged certain sections of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 which gives unbridled power to a State to prescribe ILP.
Section 2 of the Regulation empowers a State government to prescribe ‘Inner Line’ to prohibit citizens of India or any class of such citizens going beyond the prescribed line without a pass.
Upadhyay said the colonial-era regulation was passed by the then British government to prohibit Indian citizens to move in selects districts to create monopoly in business.
He said the State Cabinet had taken a decision to extend the operation of the 1873 Regulation in Dimapur.
“Therefore, many non-Nagas who have landed properties with commercial shops, godowns, etc. and who are staying in as tenants, and many locals who earn their income by means of collecting house rent from tenants would be adversely affected,” he said.
The plea said that “Gujaratis, Rajasthanis, Biharis, Jharkhandis, Bengalis, Gorkhas, Bodos, Dimasas, Karbis, Garos, etc. have been regarded as outsiders by the government of Nagaland, which is a racial discrimination.”
“Many traders/businessmen have to close down their business and leave Dimapur, a cosmopolitan town. Dimapur cannot be converted exclusively for hills tribes on racial ground when it was never an integral part of the Naga hills,” the petition said.
“When Nagaland acquired statehood, Dimapur, being a part of Assam, was legally and constitutionally excluded from the Naga Hills and from Sixth Schedule. But, petitioner don’t know how it was again included in the State of Nagaland after exclusion from Sixth Schedule?” Upadhyay said.
The petition contended that the imposition of the ILP would “create a country within a country … and create a monopoly of trade, commerce, business only for new settlers who have come down to Dimapur from the Naga Hills and bar perpetual residency and right to free moment to others”.
“If all the North-Eastern States adopt such alien concept, then the concept of citizenship will be diluted and fundamental rights will be immensely circumscribed,” said the petition, which is likely to come up for hearing in first week of July. (Courtesy: The Hindu)