Kohima: Nagaland's ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) on Thursday clarified “certain doubts as to how the state and its people are protected” through Constitutional provisions “in the context of Nagaland vis-à-vis Article 371 (A)”.
CM Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP is the major partner of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a part, in Nagaland.
In a press communique, the party said: “The said article begins with the words ‘notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of…’, which itself means that despite what is in the constitution, no Act of Parliament shall apply to the state of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides. In the present context, to determine whether a person is a Naga citizen along with his or her rights and privileges rests upon the village institutions (e.g: village councils) who are the keepers of our traditional and customary laws, practices and procedure; not the government as has been the customary practices of Naga’s since time immemorial which has been further strengthened and protected by Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India."
The party added that New Delhi has given further protection to Nagaland by bringing the state under the purview of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 whereby the Inner Line Permit is issued to safeguard the Nagas’ citizenship along their rights and privileges and “therefore, the BEFRA is one the pillars to safeguard the Naga citizenship through the exercise of the ILP. Further, the foundations of the Naga customary Law is to preserve and protect the rights, privileges and the citizenship of the Naga people and this has been protected under the gambit of Article 371 (A) in its totality”.
The party went on to state that “it will definitely not be wise in viewing Article 371 (A) on a microscopic point of view but rather it should be viewed on a much wider perspective since the Article 371 (A) is a special provision given to the state of Nagaland by the GoI on account of the immense sacrifices made through the blood and tears of the Naga people”.
The party affirmed it "will endeavour to impress upon the state government" to ensure that the BEFRA and the ILP is implemented in toto in the entire state of Nagaland including Dimapur; and to ensure strict implementation of the ILP.
"The Nagaland Legislative Assembly decided not to implement the Constitution 73rd Amendment 1992 on the grounds that infringed upon the provisions of Article 371 (A) of the Constitution and therefore, the state of Nagaland has since been exempted (sic) from Part IX of the constitution of India that pertains to the Panchayati Raj System since the Nagaland Village and Area Council Act 1978 was already in effect that conforms to our traditional and customary laws, practices and procedures”.
“Similarly, even in the present context, if this proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 does infringe upon the provisions of Article 371 (A) and the NLA is empowered to decide not to implement the CAB in the state of Nagaland," the party said.
On its clarification in reviewing the Citizenship (Amendment) BIll, the party stated that "sensing the pulse of the neighbouring states who do not have the provisions and protection of Article 371 (A), and to place our support in solidarity to the voice of our Northeastern brethren, the state cabinet had passed a resolution to appraise the GoI to review the CAB and accordingly, the Union home minister has publicly assured that a meeting of all NE chief ministers will be convened by him at the earliest to discuss the CAB in detail."
Besides the safeguarded provisions, the party is hopes that Nagaland will be excluded from this Bill and added: “It is also an opportunity for Nagaland to take a fresh look at the prevailing laws and safeguards and undertake necessary measures to enhance and strengthen our laws and regulations."
The statement further read: “The PDA government has already instituted a high-powered committee to look at these aspects and put forth recommendations to the state government which will include consideration of introduction of work permits, extension of ILP to the entire state including Dimapur district and use of modern technology to better monitor and effectively implement and strengthen existing laws."
“The NDPP is of the view that introduction of work permits will enable the government machinery to better monitor the floating and labour population while also creating avenues to increase the revenue of the State through such a mechanism,” the party said.
It affirmed to safeguard the state and its citizens and added: “The people of Nagaland should be rest assured that the PDA and it’s leadership will continue to strive for the interest of our people and we are confident that the people are intelligent enough not to be swayed by mere political rhetoric aimed at gaining cheap political gains by making misleading statements.”