Year Ender 2019: Naga solution, CAA, taxation dominate state landscape

Staff Reporter Dimapur, Dec 29 (NPN) | Publish Date: 12/29/2019 11:44:22 AM IST

As the year 2019 draws to a close, people of Nagaland continue to relive the unfulfilled hopes of permanent peace and economic development and any expectations that the new year 2020 would be better but which depends on how the mandated government delivers on its promises of good governance.

The main focus of the state on Naga political solution reached its highest expectations when the BJP assured Nagas of an early solution after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The expectation was raised when the government of India’s Interlocutor to the Naga Peace Talks R.N. Ravi said solution could be signed anytime and that the ball was in the court of the Naga groups. 

Significantly, results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections gave prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP a thumping mandate with 303 seats. Subsequently, in a decisive step, prime minister Narendra Modi appointed government of India’s Interlocutor R.N. Ravi as the governor of Nagaland on July 20,2019.

Later after taking over as Governor on August 1, Ravi told public at a civic reception in Kohima, that he was tasked by prime minister Narendra Modi to conclude the negotiations within three months. Many read it as solution within three months or by October 31,2019. 

However, it was later made clear that this meant closing the chapter on the endless and protracted negotiations within the three-month period.

Negotiations between the government of India and the Naga political groups have been ongoing for over 22 years.

Just as there were expectations that the deck was clear, the NSCN (I-M) demanded that Naga flag and Naga constitution be part of the final agreement. The group maintained that these were on the basis of the spirit of the Framework Agreement signed on August 3,2015. This plunged the process to more rounds of talks when the government of India rejected the demand as they had not been accepted during negotiations. 

On the other hand, the Working Committee (WC) of the 7-member NNPGs wanted contentious issues not to be hurdles for solution but be addressed post-solution. After demands were not persisted, it appeared that solution was a step away. However, another demand for a Pan-Naga Hoho was raised. The proposed Pan-Naga Hoho was to be a statutory body with executive authority, separate budget. This opened another front as the Nagas of Nagaland- NTC, 14 Naga tribes and the WC of NNPGs opposed it.

The opposition to a Pan-Naga Hoho was that it would infringe on the present status of Nagaland state if the Pan Naga Hoho was vested with powers on cultural and economic affairs and also practically render Article 371A redundant. 

So far the government of India has not given a clear mention about the proposed Pan-Naga Hoho but the Nagas of Nagaland had submitted their views to the Interlocutor and governor.

The apprehensions come against the backdrop of the abrogation of how the BJP under Modi and Shah have succeeded in achieving what the party had always strived- making Triple Talaq unlawful, abrogation of Article 370; Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA). The next include-Pan India NRC, construction of Ram Mandir and most significantly, implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) mentioned in the BJP election manifesto. 

The UCC is as per Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Constitution which says the “State shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.” 

Dimapur district was also brought under the ambit of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) and in order to complement it, the state government constituted a three-member panel for compiling the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland(RIIN).

RIIN has become Nagaland’s version of what NRC was for Assam and as contentious. The issue of NRC was also felt in the state as NGOs and student bodies backed the North East Students Organisation in opposing NRC and CAB.

While the north east chief ministers had demanded the scrapping of the CAB, the ruling PDA cabinet adopted an ambivalent stand that Article 371A and ILP protected citizens from CAB.  In Assam, the ruling BJP-led coalition faced massive protests against the CAB and this led to friction with its regional ally, the AGP, the latter of ,which publicly declared its opposition against the bill.

As the regional parties continued to openly criticize of oppose CAB, their MPs however, did a U-turn by voting for it. The NSF had also come out strongly against the two MPs from Nagaland-the LS member from the NDPP and the RS member from NPF- both of , who voted for the CAB in parliament.

While Naga solution was the focus, the other issue – illegal tax collections in Dimapur took the limelight when the Public Action Committee(PAC) of the Naga Council Dimapur(NCD) launched a week-long ‘Operation Check Gate’ in Dimapur from September 16.

The issue of illegal taxation, syndication of business and all forms of gate collections remains a serious concern which spilled over in the form of public rallies since 2013 by ACAUT. The state government formed the 3-member High Power Committee under retired Supreme Court Judge H.K.Sema. The committee submitted its report in 2015 but nothing has been done so far.

By end of November, the issue of CAB overturned all eyes as it turned into a mass protest.

CAB- erupted into protest throughout the north east after NESO and later the Joint Committee on Prevention of Illegal Immigrants (JCPI) began agitation after parliament passed the bill.

For Nagaland, the roads including the prolonged delay in the construction of 4-lane from Dimapur to Kohima are issues that are on the same page with corruption. The 4-lane issue continues without early completion even as the high court bench in Kohima has issued suo moto notice.

Thus, the New Year 2020 will be expected to see these issues dealt with while Naga solution will be at the top of the agenda. 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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