Post Mortem

Register of indigenous inhabitant of Nagaland, RIIN

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/2/2019 11:42:55 AM IST

 According to English diction, Indigenous is an adjective and when referred to a Human being, it describes a “person living naturally in a particular region”. This definition makes the white Americans in the United States of America non-Indigenous people of North America; white Australians non-Indigenous of Australia and the whites of New Zealander non-Indigenous of the State. In short, Indigenous means only person belonging naturally to the place.

A Naga girl married to a Non-Naga is ethnically an Indigenous Naga whether she lives with a Russian in the Tundra Region or with an American in Honolulu. Indigenousness is a gift of nature to the earliest inhabitants and their descendants of the place; it is not malleable by human interests or wishes and desires. 

A non-Naga born and brought up and living in the State of Nagaland, is not an Indigenous but a domiciled of Nagaland and the person has all the rights of a Citizen of Nagaland, except the privileges that an Indigenous has. Every Nation has a priority for its own Citizens. Donald Trump has every right to seek the interest of the America first and he has every right to allow others into America without any regulations. A Naga girl married to a Non-Naga cannot lose her indigenous ethnicity of a Naga but she cannot have the indigenous ethnicity of her husband. 

The Naga everywhere is a Naga, there is no question about it otherwise, but a Naga, -not Native of Cachar- can claim the privilege of the Indigenous of Cachar State: A Naga of Nagaland cannot be an Indigenous person in any other place except Nagaland and vice versa.

The Kuki and the Kachari and the Garo, who had and have ancestral Village in Naga Hills from time immemorial in the ancient past before the whites colonized the Naga Hills, are Indigenous of Nagaland, even a Nepali born and brought up and living in Naga Hills prior to 31 December 1963, -not all Nepalis-, have been accepted by the Government as Indigenous of Nagaland.

The Nepalis of above should have been appropriately recognized as “Domiciled Citizens of Nagaland”, rather than irregularly as Indigenous after the State of Nagaland was formed. But whatever has been done, let Nagaland Government not rescind it now, however the State Government has bungled in the past in the case of the Rongmei. The Matter is now in the Court and let the Court decide.

But a bigger question is: Is the Government authorized to do this monumental Task of Social Classification with immense consequences just by a Cabinet Decision and an Executive Order bypassing formal Regulation through the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland? I am not a person with Legal training, let the people with Legal Expertise share their legal Minds. 

First, the State must first of all clearly define what the government means by ‘INDIGENOUS’! Surely, “original inhabitant of the house” of the Notification nowhere means ‘Indigenous inhabitants’.

Quite many new Villages have come up and are coming up in Nagaland with miscellaneous transient populations without traditional cultural ropes of Family-Clan-Khel-Village-Tribe connections and Territory. So it is unconscionable to empower such emigrated miscellaneous population with the power to decide whether a person is Indigenous or non-Indigenous when they themselves are non-Indigenous.

In this collateral Issue, it is improper to give the Urban Colony/Wards to exercise the full fledged authoritative power of a traditional, Cultural and Tribal Village whereas the Government Notification seems to have treated the paramount, Authoritative Village Council only the semblance of an accompaniment 

In Nagaland, the appropriate authority to decide whether a person of ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Non-Indigenous’ Status lay not with the Government but is with the native Gaunbura of the Village. In Nagaland it is the Village who decides whether a person or even the Clan is Immigrant or Indigenous. 

The Ward or Colony of a Town or City or an Urban Area in Nagaland State does not have the Authority of a native Village to decide Indigenous or not of the place.

Nagaland now should be very careful in the case of RIIN. Let it not rush things in haste. The Government has not accomplished much since the Bengal Inner Line Regulation was promulgated 146 years ago in 1873. If it is so, what can a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants do. Why register the Majority Nagas when the trouble is with the Minority illegal Immigrants? 

Thepfulhouvi Solo, former Principal Secretary, Nagaland

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