Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday assured Non-Naga indigenous inhabitants of the state that the government was working on ways to strengthen their position in the Naga society through the exercise of Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN).

Addressing the local Gorkha community here during the inauguration of a multi-utility hall of the Gorkha Public Panchayat Kohima at Chandmari, Rio said the state will look into the possibility of not only making the recognised Non-Naga Indigenous Inhabitants as permanent residents but also ensure that they live a comfortable life in Nagaland.

Rio said the Gorkhas have been recognised through a government gazette dated October 22, 1974, and said the government will “see what is best” for the Gorkhas, as well as the four other recognised Non-Naga Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland— Kuki, Kachori, Garo and Mikhir, who have settled prior to Indian Independence.

In his address, the chief minister praised the Gorkhas who have built a close bond with the Nagas, especially with the T Khel community from Kohima village, who had adopted the Gorkhas and given them protection till date. 

According to Rio, Gorkhas have a lot of similarities with the Nagas and are hardworking and honest people. In this regard, he expressed hope to continue with the Naga-Gorkha brotherhood.

The chief minister also lauded the unity and cohesive nature of the Gorkhas and acknowledged the preservation of their historical records of their settlement in Nagaland.

Rio informed that Old Gorkha Singh’s Devi Mandir at Chandmari built in 1880, which was proposed to be maintained as a heritage site, will be referred to the Art and Culture department for necessary action. “What is appropriate will be given due recognition,” he said. 

The CM also donated Rs 20,00,000 towards the final completion of the multi-utility hall. 

Santu Thapa, president of the Gorkha Public Panchayat Kohima (GPPK), in his keynote address said there were 166 houses as per Gazette Notification by the Government of Nagaland in 1974. 

The GPPK president said since Nagaland attained statehood, CM Rio is the first chief minister to grace an occasion hosted by the community.

He then said that it was long felt desire of having a multi-utility hall to facilitate different kinds of functions for everyone and not just the Gorkha community.

“The early settlements of Gorkhas were in Daklane, Chotobosti, Hospital Colony, Piphema, Zubza, Aradhura and were largely populated at Chandmari prior to Dec 31, 1940. The members of the Gorkha community are living in peace and harmony with our Naga brethren,” he said.

Mentioning that Gorkhas were given certain privileges such as equal property rights, equal educational facilities and equal facilities for industrial licence and loan, he acknowledged the government for extending such facilities. 

“But in order to lead a decent and respectable life, a means of sustainable livelihoods have to be ensured as we do not have any option than to rely on job opportunities. The people of the Gorkha community who have been settled permanently in Nagaland have no place to go out but to live and die here in Nagaland,” he expressed with concern.

He emphasised that the Gorkha community was not seeking equal employment rights at par with their Naga brethren but hoped to be treated at par with other minority tribes settled in the state.  

Members of the Gorkha community also performed a traditional folk dance – Khurkuri dance – on the occasion.

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