Kohima: Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Saturday sought the collective efforts of the Naga people to give the ‘last push’ to the ongoing Naga peace talks.
The chief minister, addressing the 29th Biennial General conference of the Angami Students’ Union (ASU), said the Naga political issue belongs to the people. So, there is a need to agree and do what could be done as per the prevailing situation.
In this regard, he said that the leaders of the present generation must deliberate on the issue.
With the Naga history recognised as “unique” and the Naga issue recognised as a “political issue”, he urged the Nagas to think and live accordingly.
He assured that the state government is working with the opposition party to expedite the Naga peace process. He mentioned several meetings with the government of India (GoI) and the Naga political groups.
On the contentious issue of the Naga flag and Constitution, Rio recalled his meeting with the Union home minister Amit Shah. Rio said that Shah informed that there couldn’t be a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, particularly as a separate nation.
However, he said that a flag that symbolises the uniqueness of the Nagas can be used under the Indian Union as such a symbol cannot be neglected. This flag, he said, can be used during community functions but not at government establishments or meetings.
Citing a conversation with the Home Minister, he said that if this condition is agreed upon, Shah consented to hoist the flag on Naga Day. He added that after such an agreement, an expert committee would be formed to frame the constitution which can be included under the Indian Constitution like Art 371(A). He added that such an agreement would be for the general welfare of the Nagas.
Maintaining a clear record of the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN):
Dwelling on the government’s initiative to create a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), Rio recalled that the implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Dimapur was done following the report of a committee led by Abhishek Singh. He said that the question of who will come under the purview of ILP was then raised, which also led to the need to identify indigenous inhabitants of the state.
He said that the government is conducting several consultative meetings with the tribal leaders on the issue as it needs to be thoroughly deliberated.
He highlighted the important role of the village council (VC) who will be responsible to certify who is indigenous and native. However, the document certified by the VC will later be verified by the respective district administration.
He also highlighted the role of the village council and tribal councils, who will ensure the customary laws (as empowered under clause 7 and 8 of the 16 point agreement). If powers are misused by the village council, he said, leaders involved in forging fake indigenous certificates could be excommunicated.
He, therefore, urged the need to maintain citizen records as it will protect the state’s indigenous inhabitants.
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