Other citizens cannot be harassed in the name of RIIN: Rio

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HT Correspondent

DIMAPUR, April 17: “We cannot harass the citizens of any other Indian state while working on the system of Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) or implementing it,” Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said. Rio said this while addressing the consultative meeting with civil society organisations and tribal hohos on RIIN at the chief minister’s residential complex in Kohima on Saturday.

The Naga civil society organisations of Nagaland, led by the Joint Committee on Prevention of Illegal Immigrants, have been demanding implementation of RIIN with December 1, 1963, as the cut-off year in the State and ILP in Dimapur. They have held several rallies and submitted memorandums to the government on the two issues. Rio said identification of indigenous people amongst Nagas of Nagaland is not a problem due to the involvement of village councils but identification of indigenous Nagas in other states is a problem. He cited the examples of Sikkim, Tripura and Assam where the “indigenous people have now become a minority in their own states”. Rio suggested formation of a smaller group to work on the RIIN having state and district level committees comprising apex bodies like Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation, Tenyimi Public Organisation and Central Nagaland Tribes Council at the state level and tribal hohos and MLAs at the district level. The committees will mainly work for compilation of customary laws and usages and adjudication of disputes, he added.

On ILP issue, he said it should be introduced in Dimapur district after considering the difficulties and problems of the district since Dimapur is a metropolitan city. In this regard, he mooted the idea of formulating a law which protects not only the Nagas but also the citizens of other states. Rio said the state of Nagaland came into being in pursuance of the 16-point Agreement. As such, the state has the legitimate rights to formulate its own laws and regulations for the interest and protection of its citizens. He said each tribe will have its own village, regional and tribal councils in order to deal with issues pertaining to violation of customary laws and usages. He said such councils are legal and mandated by the Constitution by an Act. Rio also appreciated the efforts of the Opposition Naga People’s Front led by Opposition leader TR Zeliang for vigorously pursuing the matter with the ruling government leaving aside differences.

Meanwhile, the tribal hohos took a collective decision to go for RIIN. They also insisted that the Banuo Z Jamir Commission report on RIIN should be made public before implementation of the register. A decision to form a Joint Consultative Committee on RIIN, headed by the Nagaland home commissioner and commissioner Nagaland as the member secretary and representatives from CNTC, ENPO and TPO as members in the State level was taken during the meeting to have direct communication with all stakeholders. This was informed by adviser to Information Technology and Science Mmhonlumo Kikon at a press briefing at the secretariat conference hall in Kohima after the meeting.

Kikon said the RIIN was a sensitive issue and a lot of consultative meetings will be needed with all the stakeholders before its implementation. He also said a sub-committee will also be formed at the district level with the deputy commissioners as the conveners and representatives of the tribal hohos of the respective districts as members.

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