TUENSANG, JANUARY 12 (MExN): Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Saturday asserted that Nagas and Nagaland State are protected under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873 and the Inner Line Permit regulations.
The chief minister’s response comes in the backdrop of the Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang and NPF Legislature Party alleging the Rio led PDA government of double-speak on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
Addressing the Poanglüm Mini Hornbill organised by the Chang Khulei Setshang today at Loyem Memorial Ground, Tuensang, the chief minister wondered how and why the NPF was silent when the Bill was introduced in July, 2016 and questioned whether the “NPF was silent at that time since it was in alliance with the BJP then.” He expressed surprise that the NPF had raised its voice only now.
The chief minister pointed out that the Cabinet had on June 5, 2018 and January 7, 2019 discussed the Bill. He said that Nagas and Nagaland State are protected under the BEFR Act, 1873 and the Inner Line Permit regulations.
“The 16 Point Agreement through which we attained Statehood, also clearly states in clause no-16 that with regard to Inner Line Regulation, the rules embodied in the BEFR Act 1973, shall remain in force in Nagaland,” he said and urged the people not to be misled by the views of Opposition parties especially when the bill has not even been passed in the Rajya Sabha for which there is still time to review the bill.
He reaffirmed the Cabinet’s decision that the Bill in its present form needed review and expressed solidarity with those communities who will be affected if the bill becomes an act.
“The Bill has not even been passed. I do not know what the Opposition is trying to portray. The Cabinet resolved to propose adoption of a Resolution reaffirming all provisions of Article 371 (A) and to strengthen the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) as per BEFR of 1873 in the next session of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. We had also resolved to discuss with all political parties as well as with all stakeholders. NPF and BJP were alliance partners in 2016 and were running the State Government. During their time, the NPF did not oppose it. Only now when we are doing our best, they are trying to confuse people.”
The chief minister also affirmed that the State Government is studying the ground realities and the effectiveness of ILP in the State particularly in the foothills of Dimapur. The Chief Minister also noted public opinions of having a law which will forfeit Naga women of their tribal status if they marry non-Nagas. He however added that these need thorough discussions in the Assembly.
He added that Nagas should look towards positivity and not try to pick out issues or play blame games. “We should forgive, forget and promote unity so that we can automatically be developed with a bright future for our people, particularly the youths”, he added.