Holding the status quo or interim orders of the Gauhati High Court on Intangki National Park as “highly illegal”, the Tenyimi people’s organization (TPO) Tuesday urged the state parliamentary secretary, department of law & justice to “get rid of the so-called Inavi/ Naga united village, and all other encroachers” from the Park immediately.
Cautioning that in the event the request was not acceded, the TPO said “we shall be constrained to initiate befitting action(s) against all the encroachers, so as to protect our traditional land and our historical rights over the same.”
This was contained in a memorandum addressed to the parliamentary secretary, department of law & justice, tourism Yitachu by TPO president Z. M. Sekhose, general secretary Benjamin Lorin and vice presidents - Keku Zeliang and Z. Vasa. TPO expressed shock to observe that “menace of intrusion and illegal encroachment” of the Park by over 2000 households, from “so-called Inavi/Naga united village” and others, continued unabated for too long without any tangible restraint from the state government or by Guwahati High Court, Kohima bench till date.
“We are constrained to draw your kind attention to our position on what we are compelled to conclude is a case of unacceptable dereliction of responsibility for the protection of Intangki National Park,” they said.
TPO viewed that the state government has not played due role effectively for reasons which it failed to comprehend.
It opined that the High Court’s granting successive Status Quo or Interim Orders were “highly illegal, questionable and condemnable by all right thinking persons.” Itdescribed as “indisputable fact” already established by High Court that an area consisting of 20, 202 hectares in question clearly fell within an area officially notified and demarcated without any dispute as a “National Park”.
Further, TPO maintained that the matter has already been heard in High Court, and that “indisputable facts” of Intangki National Park were categorically given in a speaking judgment passed by Justice Hrishikesh Roy of Guwahati High Court on September 21, 2010 under WP(C) No. 111 (K)/ 2009 & WP(C) No. 217 (K)/ 2009 who had “dismissed them all earlier, is equally indisputable.”
It “deeply regretted” that department was found wanting in sincerely pursuing the hearings of the said case before High Court and has not taken any concrete steps to challenge and/or vacate the “condemnable status quo orders” passed in respect of National Park during all these months w.e.f. October 7, 2010 to May 2, 2011.
“This serious lapse has resulted in the illegal status quo orders giving shelter to the illegal intruders, thus enabling them to continue their acts of depredation and illegal activities,” TPO stated.
Further the TPO said status quo/interim orders were supposed to be maintained and enforced fairly by both parties i.e., of Nagaland government on one hand and Inavi/Naga united village and others, on the other. However, it noted that “the same has always been partially maintained.”
It went on to assert that activities of government were restrained on one hand by said interim orders, but there seemed to be no agency to enforce and maintain status quo against further encroachment by “illegal intruders.”
TPO said that “criminal trespassers”, without hindrance, were unabatedly continuing with their acts of wanton felling of precious trees, logging operations, hoarding and random killing of wildlife, grabbing of fertile lands at the National Park for settlement, spontaneous road constructions and other illegal developmental activities with machineries.
Maintaining that vitally important forest, with its sensitive ecosystem, was now at the mercy of the illegal trespassers, the TPO said: “Their total disregard of the serious damage that they are illegally causing to Nagaland’s most important and precious forest system now threatens to provoke violence and bloodshed.”
TPO wondered “What were we doing and waiting for all these years?”
It observed that “instant case” was a very simple one since Intangki Wildlife Sanctuary was undisputedly demarcated, notified and declared to be National Park, by the government notification vide No. FOR-43/83 dated March 3, 1993 by Nagaland government.
“Therefore, the issue should not in any case be unnecessarily made legally and factually complicated with status quo/interim orders,” it said.
TPO also pointed out that there was never a similar history heard of or known to the world where status quo was granted in favour of illegal trespassers in any National Park. It asserted , if status quo was granted for any wrong reason, it should be promptly protested and vacated within the shortest possible time.
“All the illegal trespassers should be immediately arrested and booked as criminals and just burning down of their makeshift huts is not enough,” TPO demanded and those arrested should be properly charge sheeted under all relevant sections.
“Exemplary punishment should be given to the selfish land grabbing intruders if we are to ensure our future survival,” the TPO demanded.
TPO claimed that “so-called Inavi/Naga united villagers” were basically from Zunheboto district and other districts of Nagaland, and were ‘not traditional forest dwellers’ of Intangki Area.
Saying that there was never a question that they (Inavi/Naga united villagers) were forced to relocate their dwellings, due to state intervention, required under Chapter (ii) of the Forest Dwellers Act Section 3 (2), TPO added. It said since their forefathers were not original inhabitants of Intangki forest area, there was no question of diversion of forest land.
Stating that its “utmost concern” without prejudice, was to protect the National Park and to prevent further destruction of the flora and fauna, TPO said it has raised voices against rampant encroachment and felling of extremely valuable trees in different forms and at different times in the past.
“The situation has reached such an alarming state due to the relentless effort of the encroachers to grab the land, whereby the National Park is on the verge of extinction. Hence, this urgent representation,” TPO said.