Mathew Rongmei, senior journalist, Zeliangrong Village
Muddled viewpoint on Rongmei recognition or warped views on Rongmei recognition that often appear in media seem to have a tale of mythical ‘Pandora’s Box’ which had unleashed all evil forms known to man, but the last thing that came out was the God of Hope. I am sure concerned people will not take umbrage at my personal opinion that the ‘Rongmei recognition issue’ has been taken pretty a binge in public domain to the much chagrin of Rongmei community of Nagaland.
After last assembly’s decision to recognize the tribe, the issue might now seem a non-issue for the government, but the volley of frenzied press releases in media has distastefully pent-up a social discomfort. I do not really want to trade in argument with, or counter anybody’s opinion. But since a write up: “Rongmei Tribe recognition by ‘deception’: NTC” concerning the minority tribe I belong, was published for public awareness and comments, I wish to broach a few things fleeting my mind.
I hope, readers will take it as sharing of ideas in positive, constructive and impartial way and not otherwise. As I was perusing the newspaper over a cup of tea on Saturday morning, I was tempted to read intensely on the Opinion Page so notably displayed the official texts and scanned signatures of chief minister and his cabinet ministers. The contention of the statement is that the state government had rejected the recommendations made by concerned committees set up by it while taking the decision to recognize the Rongmei tribe. The question of rejection or acceptance is only answerable by the competent authority of the government concerned. My point of view is only confined to texts of the recommendations signed by J.Alam, IAS, Home Commissioner, Khanrinla T.Koza, Addl.Secretary (J&L) and Chubasangla Anar, Joint Secretary (P&AR).
If we read through carefully, the texts in two boxes are speaking almost the same and nowhere have they opposed to recognition of Rongmei tribe but gave the government two options. In plain English, the texts colloquially mean either to recognize Rongmeis as (i) Indigenous inhabitants (i.e. Non-Nagas) or (2) Indigenous inhabitant Naga Tribe of Nagaland. And it was left to the government to decide. The text in the second box says, the recognition is not a legal issue but a political decision. The text in the first box uses the word “If.” “If the Rongmei community is given only the status of indigenous inhabitant, the status would be equivalent to status given to non-Naga.”
This does not mean that the committee has suggested the government to grant non-Naga status to Rongmeis. It could equally mean Rongmeis be given the status of Indigenous Naga tribe. Both the boxes tell that there is a vast difference between the two kinds of status but they do not recommend what kind of status be given to Rongmeis in general (that could mean Rongmeis from Manipur and Assam) but they definitely said that only those Rongmeis of Nagaland living prior to 1963 be given the status of “Indigenous Rongmei Naga Inhabitants of Nagaland.
”Thirdly, in the third box, there is a scanned copy of signatures. Out of space allotted to 16 signatories, 12 signatories have signed including chief minister Neiphiu Rio and his cabinet ministers, and chief secretary Lalthara. I really don’t know how the political or bureaucratic experts or social scientists would lucidly interpret the recommendations of the committee report. I have just mentioned what I understand and feel on the issue placed for public comments. I sincerely hope every reader would appreciate and understand my personal opinion without any prejudices but for the larger interests of the Nagas as one family.