NPCC trying to politicize August 31, September 1 incidents: NPF

 1. The NPCC has tried its level best to politicise the unfortunate incidents of August 31st and September 1st, 2012 in order to get political mileage, but it has fallen flat on its face and the Congress in Nagaland has exposed its narrow minded intentions to all of Naga society. At a time when different sections of the people especially civil society and tribal organisations were making all out efforts to forge understanding, the Congress resorted to its old trick of trying to politicise the sequence of events, thereby revealing their true colour to the people. The absurd demand of the NPCC for the dismissal of the duly elected DAN Government is rejected and condemned.

2. The NPCC’s statement accusing the Chief Minister of “giving undue weightage to the civil societies” also exposes the anti-people approach of the NPCC. In Naga society, we hold the tribal organisations, civil societies and mass based organisations in high regard and it is in our customs and traditions to respect and acknowledge these frontal organisations. They carry the voice and feelings of all the Naga tribes and they are protected even by the Constitution of India as enshrined in Article 371 A.

3. For the benefit of the NPCC, it is pertinent to point out that Article 371 A of the Constitution of India clearly states that “(1) Notwithstanding anything in the Constitution, -No act of Parliament in respect of – (i) religious or social practices of the Nagas, (ii) Naga customary law and procedure (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law (iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.

4. The Sixteen Points Agreement in clause 8 with regard to Local self Government states that “each tribe shall have the following units of rule making and administrative local bodies to deal with matters concerning the respective tribes and areas – (1) The Village Councils, (2) the Range councils (3) the Tribal councils. It says that “these councils will also deal with disputes and cases involving breaches of customary laws and usages.

5. Clause 9 of the Sixteen Points Agreement under the heading Administration of Justice further states that (a) the existing systems of administration of civil and criminal justice shall continue. (b) Appellant courts. (1) the district court cum sessions court (for each district) high courts and Supreme Court of India (2) the Naga Tribunal for the whole of Nagaland in respect of cases decided according to customary law.

6. The Nagaland Village and Area Councils Act, 1978 (Nagaland Act No. 1 1979) has been amended to be called the Nagaland Village Councils Act, 1978 by section 2 of the Nagaland Village and Area Councils (Second Amendment) Act, 1990 (Nagaland Act No. 7 of 1990). The Act of 1979 had repealed the Nagaland Village, Area and Regional Council Act, 1970 (Act No. 2 of 1971), as extended to the erstwhile districts of Kohima and Mokokchung, which had also repealed the Nagaland Tribal, Area, Range and Village Councils Act 1966, that was enacted for the establishment of Tribal, Area, Range and Village Councils in the erstwhile districts of Kohima and Mokokchung. The Nagaland Village, Area & Regional Councils Act 1978 has been amended for the fourth occasion by the present assembly, unanimously, in 2009 with full participation of the opposition Congress during the Fourth Session of the 11th Nagaland Legislative Assembly session on 11th July 2009. The present act under the nomenclature, The Nagaland Village & Tribal Council Act, 1978 has created provisions for inclusion of representatives from frontal tribal organisations into the District Planning and Development Boards (DPDB). After amendment of the act, the State Government notified the inclusion of representatives of tribal organisations into the DPDBs through a notification No. PLN-PLN-40/2005 dated 14th March, 2011. It is through such foresight and respect for our traditions that the DAN Government has taken positive steps to make our traditional hohos and mass based organisations play a contributory role in the development and progress of society. These steps indicate that the Government’s intention of positively involving the stakeholders of society into decision making bodies that directly impact the people.

7. The Government of Nagaland has in no way abdicated or outsourced the maintenance of law and order to but is in fact doing its best to fight crime and anti-social elements by strengthening law enforcing agencies at all levels. One of the initiatives towards this strengthening has been the police-public interface on community policing which the uninitiated might have misunderstood to be relegating or even abdicating the responsibility of the police. It is not a new concept at all as it is already an established practise all over the world, and especially so in our State which traditionally has one of the strongest and most effective local administrative systems from time immemorial. For this reason, when the British extended their administration to the Naga Hills, they did not disturb the socio-political and cultural life of the Nagas, but rather strengthened the traditional practices and administration of justice and maintenance of law and order. All petty crimes and misdemeanours are even today, by tradition and public acceptance, tried and disposed by the village councils within their respective jurisdiction. Community policing has sufficient legal sanction under the ‘Rules of Administration of Justice and Police in Naga Hills district, 1937’, under which the village authorities are vested with the role of policing their respective jurisdictions. In the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, sections 37, 38, 39 and 40, clearly emphasize the role of citizens in assisting the administration and police for the prevention of breach of peace, execution of warrant, share with the Government information of crime against property and life. As mentioned earlier the customary laws, practises and usages of the Nagas which govern the people have further been protected by enshrining them in Article 371 A of the Constitution of India. Furthermore, to give effect to the mention made in the Sixteen Points Agreement, the tribal councils/hohos have been given statutory legal status under ‘Nagaland Village Councils and Tribal Councils Act, 1978’.

8. The Government of Nagaland and the police department, therefore, in recent times, have been sensitising the tribal and community leaders of the concept of community policing with a view to reinforce the legal provisions that already exist to build up cooperation between the citizens and the police. This exercise was carried out to strengthen the hands of the police and other law enforcing agencies, and does not in any way imply relegation or abdication of their duties and responsibilities. None should have the idea that the Government is outsourcing the maintenance of law and order, instead it should be understood that it is an exercise by which the hands of the police are being strengthened to deal more effectively with crime and other disruptive and unwanted elements in society. Ultimately, the maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the State Government, and it shall take appropriate action for any high handedness, crime or dereliction of duties if any, as per due process of law. 

9. If the NPCC fails to understand the protection of Naga tradition and culture then it is indeed unfortunate and speaks volumes of the intellect, foresight and memory of a responsible party like the Congress. Moreover, it is surprising to observe the ignorance of the NPCC when Congress MLAs participated in the assembly proceedings and passed the amendments to the Nagaland Village & Tribal Council Act unanimously. Just because they belong to a national party, they should not forget the rights of the Nagas and try to suppress the people’s traditional rights which have been recognised even by the Constitution of India under Article 371 A. They will do well to understand that even the British did not interfere with the traditional customs and practises of the Nagas and allowed our people to function as per our traditions. However, it is indeed unfortunate to observe our own Naga brothers trying to suppress the rights of our people thinking that they will be able to please their masters in Delhi.

10. The State Government has in no way handed over responsibility of governance to any organisation and such an unjustified and false accusation of the NPCC is definitely politically motivated and misleading. However if the NPCC is uncomfortable with the positive role being played by the civil societies and tribal hohos in progressive ventures like participation in the DPDBs and conduct of tribal festivals and youth expos, then they should clearly make their stand clear and not try to politicise issues that have been amicably resolved by the wisdom of the traditional tribal organisations.

11. The State Government has already condemned the unfortunate incidents of August 31st and 1st September in no uncertain terms and appropriate action as per the provisions of law will be initiated where ever deemed necessary. The NPF has also condemned these incidents and reiterate that the incidents of August 31st and 1st September in Kohima and Dimapur deserve the highest level of condemnation and should find not place in any civilised society.   

(Issued by NPF Press & Media Bureau)