Signed: Khanrinla T. Koz, Additional Secretary (J&L):
Nagaland state government constituted three members fact finding committee consisting of J. alam, IAS, Home Commissioner Khanrinla T. Koza Additional Secretary Law and Chubasangla Anar Joint Secretary (P&AR) to look into the rationality of giving tribal status to the demand of the Rongmeis for including as a recognized tribe in the state of Nagaland. The three members after studying the relevant records of the government and ground realities in their recommendation at 4.1 (i) stated that their descendants be given the status of indigenous Rongmei Naga inhabitant of the state of Nagaland. Such a status, while entitling them to avail all the benefits of reservation to pursue employment and education will not make them an indigenous Naga tribe of the state.
The said recommendation was signed by the three committee members copy of which was made available through RTI.
After the said committee recommendation was given, Khanrinla T. Koza additional secretary law by another legal position stated that the first status of indigenous inhabitants is secured legal right by way of satisfying the criterion. The second status for recognition does not and is not a legal issue or right but a political decision.
The cabinet, on 23.07.12 rejected the findings and recommendation of the committees report but took a political decision recognize Rongmeis as a Tribe in the state as propounded by Additional secretary law contrary to the committee recommendation. The government deceived the people of Nagaland when the Chief Secretary gave Notification dated 4.8.2012 giving recognition of Rongmei as a Tribe in Nagaland against the recommendation of the Govt. constituted Committee. The relevant documents obtained through RTI in the Rongmei recognition issue are published for public awareness and comments to see, how government of the day functions.
Text of the recommendations
i. The committee, therefore, recommends that as per details shown at para 2.7 and 2.8 of this report, a total of 1313 members of Rongmei Community who have been enumerated and compiled in the 3 (three) districts of Kohima, Peren and Dimapur as well as their direct descendants be given the status of Indigenous Rongmei Naga inhabitants of the state of Nagaland. Such a status, while entitling them to avail all the benefits of reservation to pursue employment and education will not make them an indigenous Naga tribe of the state.
ii) The committee further recommends that the compiled list should be digitized an dprinted with the signatures of all the authorities being visible and a copy each be kept in the offices of DC Kohima, Peren and Dimapur for reference. The master copy after digitization be kept in Nagaland Archive, Home Department and office of the Commissioner, Nagaland for further reference.
iii) The procedure of issuing certificate for ‘Indigenous Rongmei Naga inhabitant should be devised in such a way that the verifying administrative officer is held accountable for his/her recommendation. Verification on the basis of the identification on the strength of village council, tribal council or GBs should not be the only criteria.
iv) It is recommended that the detailed procedure for issuance of ‘Indigenous Rongmei Naga Inhabitant’ certificate be formulated by the office of the Commissioner, Nagaland.
3.3 Legal position:
The issue of granting Indigenous inhabitant Naga tribe to Rongmei Community was also examined from the legal perspective by Additional Secretary, Justice & Law Smt. Khanrinla T. Koza her observations are as under:
“In the present context of going into the issue of granting indigenous inhabitant Naga tribe recognition to Rongmei Community it may be said that there is a vast difference between granting indigenous inhabitant status and recognizing Rongmei as one of the indigenous inhabitant Naga tribes of the state. The condition stipulated in the 1977 state notification for persons to be given the indigenous status is that the name of the family head should have been entered in the 1963 electoral roll. Based on that premise, the position is that the persons whose names were entered in the electoral roll of 1963 and their descendants have a vested right to be given and treated as an indigenous inhabitant of the state by virtue of the government notification.
Therefore, if the Rongmei community is given only the status of indigenous inhabitant, the status of the Rongmei community would be equivalent to the status given to the other non Naga e.g. Nepalis.
Signed by J. Alam. IAS, Home Commissioner;
Khanrinla T. Koza, Addl. Secretary (Justice & Law)
and Chubasangla Anar, Joint Secretary (P & AR)
In essence, Rongmei Community would remain non-Naga and simply to an indigenous Naga inhabitant of the state without Naga tribal status.
Therefore, being given the status of an indigenous inhabitant by fulfilling the criteria is different from being recognized and notified as one of the Naga tribes of Nagaland. The first status of indigenous inhabitant is a secured legal right by way of satisfying the criterion. The second status for recognition does not and is not a legal issue or right but a political decision.
Rongmei as a Naga tribe is recognized under the Schedule Tribes order 1950 Arct. In the schedule of the list of schedule tribe and schedule caste in the state of Megahalay, Assam, Manipur any Naga tribe is listed. These listings it appears, is not based on any strict stipulation or fulfilling criteria as borne out by the contents of the Schedule. Perhaps this is so because the North east is predominantly tribal and each tribe was not necessarily living in a compact area.
Further, the fact that prior to the formation of the state, people were already settled in various places in the North East. As such, due to the prior settlement of the people , before the formation of the states, the right to be treated/recognized as a permanent or indigenous inhabitant of that state was given to the already settled or people living in that area which had formed into a state looking at the issue from that perspective would definitely imply that the present request and claim is legitimate.
The consequence of recognizing Rongmei Community as an indigenous inhabitant Naga tribe would give them the distinct status as one of the indigenous Naga tribes of the state of Nagaland. Being a Rongmei Tribe from the state of Assam or Manipur would not make him/her indigenous Naga tribe from the state of Nagaland. The status and recognition given would be confined only to the recorded, defined and enumerated Rongmeis of the state of Nagaland who were living here prior to 1963.