Chief minister Neiphiu Rio addressing the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on Monday

Kohima: Citing the special provisions given to the state of Nagaland under Art 371A and the additional provision of Inner Line Permit (ILP) under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday said that the state is protected from the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019.

Pronouncing the concluding remarks on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address, CM Rio reiterated that Art 371 and ILP under BEFR 1873, protect the Nagas from CAA. “That is the only weapon that can protect us,” he said.

“Till today, it has protected us,” he said and requested the opposition party to suggest an “alternative” or a “mechanism” if they think that Art 371A or the ILP under BEFR 1873 cannot the protect Nagas, further asking them to reveal it to the Naga people.

Talking about the special provisions guaranteed to the state, Rio cited how a PIL was filed against the state government by a senior advocate challenging the state government’s proposed move to enforce ILP in the whole of Dimapur, and how the court “dismissed” the case as it holds “no merit”. He said that the highest court had pronounced that the state government has the “right” and “liberty” to demarcate and extend any area that is suitable to them.

He also said that the Union ministry of home affairs, vide The Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 2019 published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary, Part II Section 3 Sub-Section (ii) on 11th December 2019, the words “districts of Kamrup, Darrang, Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Naga Hills, Cachar” etc as mentioned in the BEFR 1873 have been substituted with the words “States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and area of districts of State of Nagaland as notified from time to time”.

He said that Nagaland was the state to demand that the British law of 1873 be enforced in the state and that was agreed upon. Rio added that the ILP regime under BEFR 1873 which was discussed and mentioned in both Houses of Parliament was included in the master copy of the bill, ensuring that it is now incorporated in a Constitutional law.

Also Read: Nagaland: 28 defaulters detected in Dimapur post extension of ILP

“With faith and trust in the GoI and its laws, Nagas should not fear nor bring different narrative to misguide the people,” Rio said. He added that there is nothing to fear as “Art 371A will remain”.

He went on to say that the British law BEFR 1873 was incorporated by the GoI “into an Indian law through CAA notified on 11th December 2019”. “Does this clear the mind that ILP is very much a part of Indian law?” he questioned.

On allegations that Nagas are not protected under Art 371A and ILP under BEFR, he questioned what other protective mechanism and alternatives protects the Nagas. He then suggested the opposition to suggest other means of protecting the people. “If you don’t have, that means you are against the interest of the Nagas, you become anti-Naga”, he said, further urging them to play a more constructive role.

On the Opposition Party’s decision of suspension of Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye, and not suspending Dr Lorho S Pfoze, MP Lok Sabha, for voting in favour of CAA, he accused the Naga People’s Front (NPF) not to play a “double standard policy”.

Saying that this particular decision of the opposition has “amused” him, Rio said that although the party is in opposition in Nagaland, its members in Manipur are in alliance with the BJP. Asking them to clear their stand, he said: “You cannot cheat the people like this.”

He also revealed that there were rumours that the party has plans to merge with other party, although he is not sure of which party it is. Appealing the opposition to be constructive, he said that they must rethink and review their stand, in order to work that work hand in hand.

Despite the amendment moved by the opposition to omit/delete the sentence: “My government had brought to the notice of the government of India that special status being enjoyed by the State under Art 371A, and this in conjunction with the Inner line Permit regime under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) 1873 that is in force in the state did not provide any ground for applicability of CAB 2019 in the state. We nonetheless are very appreciative of the Government of India for addressing our concerns,” the justifications made by the chief minister override the move as majority of the members in the house adopted the motion of thanks to the governor’s address.

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