The attention of some “Concerned Citizens (CC)” is drawn to a news item published in the local newspapers dated 22.08.23. It is learnt that the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Kohima, Shanavas C, IAS had (quote) issued a notification regarding the publication of the draft updated list of non Naga local indigenous Nepali/Gorkha residents under Kohima District. The qualifying date for inclusion in this list will be up to June 11, 2016. The notification stated that the period for filing claims and objections has been scheduled from August 22, 2023, to September 5, 2023 (unquote).
The CC is appalled to see the audacious attempt by the DC to tamper with the fabric of the laws governing the land with respect to indigeneity. It is a serious breach of confidence and interference in the societal order and peaceful co-existence in the society. The notification of the Government of Nagaland vide order No AR-8/8/76 dt 28/4/1977 is unambiguously clear and clear that a non-Naga or even a Naga from outside the present State of Nagaland in order to qualify as an “Indigenous Inhabitant” of the state of Nagaland for the purpose of employment and own land (quote) “a person should have settled permanently in Nagaland prior to 1-12-1963” (unquote) and had given 3 (three) criteria namely; possession of Land patta, payment of House tax and antecedents names enrolled in the Electoral voter list before 1-12-1963 or proved to be a native citizen to determine the status of indigenous permanent settlement in the State of Nagaland. The CC reiterates that these criteria should be adhered to and under no circumstances should the DC change the goal post or deviate from this solemn notification. There cannot be two ‘qualifying years’ for indigeneity just as there cannot be two ‘dates of birth’. Furthermore, the CC reiterates the standing order that, following the notification dated 28/4/1977, the descendants of the Nepali/Gorkha whose parents were permanent resident of Kohima district and their names have been published in the Electoral roll published on 5-12-1963 should have to prove that they continuously resided in Kohima since 1963 by producing electoral roll of the State Assembly/Parliamentary elections and Town Committee elections as evidence.
The State of Nagaland is not up for grabs and the DC or any other person irrespective of their official standing should not meddle with matters of such sensitive nature affecting the social fabric that has the potential to conflagrate. The ongoing case of Manipur, and the recent ULB protest that caused much social turmoil should be a clear reminder of the sensitiveness of such matters and this issue of shifting to an arbitrary date of qualification for indigenous status is no exception. Its sensitive nature is determined by its wide ramifications and implications in access to reservation, education, welfare schemes, employment, land possession and ownership, traditional and customary rights and privileges, etc amongst many others. The cut off year of 1-12-1963 for indigenous inhabitant status along with other criteria should always prevail and the prejudiced date of 11 June 2016 with vested interest can never be recognized as the cutoff date for determining the indigenous status of any person claiming to be a citizen of the State of Nagaland. The DC may refer to the restriction order issued by the Chief Secretary to all the DC vide order No RCBT-5/87 (pt-III) Dated Kohima, the 11th June 2012. This order in the form of an office memorandum indicates that not only it is a sensitive matter concerning non-Nagas, but even amongst the Nagas and also any non-Naga adopted child. The DC has no legal or judicial authority to assert a date of his own choice without deliberations with all the stakeholders. This action of the DC is absolutely irresponsible, insane and lacks discernment.
The CC strongly objects to the notification order of the DC and prays that the same should be revoked at the earliest in the interest of peace and tranquility before a situation is created that can go out of control. Not only the people of Kohima, but all right thinking citizens and organizations across the state should oppose such mischievous, biased and prejudiced notification order that has the potential to create social and civil unrest in the Naga society. It is unbecoming of a highly educated person who would act irrationally on a very sensitive fundamental issue that would open the floodgates for all other districts and many other tribes or community to include themselves as indigenous inhabitant. While this appears to specifically apply to Kohima District, once a precedent is made, it would spread into all other districts and deprive the genuine Indigenous local Nagas of the present State of Nagaland of their many indigenous rights and privileges, which will eventually erode the fabric of the community. Such reprehensible order only suggests that bonafide and genuine Nagaland citizens and social organizations must always stay vigilant against manipulations by Governmental authorities and agencies that threaten the prospects of their future generations.
The Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) and others have promptly and strongly raised objections, however, there appears to have been no response from the DC. Therefore, in spite of the objections, should the DC remain stubborn, adamant and arrogantly refuse to listen to the present objections raised by CC and other organizations, and allow his recent notification order concerning the change of date for claiming indigenous status to prevail, then he should be held solely responsible in the event of any untoward incidents that may result as a consequence of his contentious notification order.
Dr Seyiekietuo Zieprü, Medoselhou Keretsü, Kethozhapu Angami, Dr Neiphi Kire, Vizovoto Nagi, Lhuphrevilie Rino, Kesao Kesiezie, Kevisekho Chücha, Dr Viketoulie Pienyü, Robert N Solo, Nisavi Hieme, Kuolachalie Seyie, Nitho Nakhro, Asa Angami, Ako Meyase.