“The Position of Rongmei Recognition” : A Response

By Theja Therieh, Secretary, I&P, NTC & Lendinoktang Ao, Acting President, NTC

Apropos to the article captioned “The Position of Rongmei Recognition” by Rongmei Council Nagaland (RCN) represented by its president  James Akham which appeared in the local papers on 10th & 11th April, 2014.  The Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) is saddened  to note the wild derogatory phrases used for paper war by the RCN referring the NTC  as “ some sections of leaders in the pretext and aegis of NTC or ENPO is generally reflecting or indicating certain defects notion or rationale deficiency of the Naga society… the syndrome of shortcomings… discriminative motive” or “ The communal issue-based composing NTC…  creating  false  public opinions, fallacious notions and out-rightly denying the fellow Naga brothers without realizing the facts, logic and the deserving status of the Rongmei citizens in the state… politically tempering… the advantages of the many evil designers etc”  While the article is published for the consumption of the public at large, the contents directly accused NTC, hence this response to set the matter straight. NTC respect the feelings of RCN, however some of its accusations and conclusions are generalized and baseless assumptions, not factual and even recklessly selfish and one-sided. Our main concern is that needless misunderstanding, distrust and resentment from false propaganda not be passed onto one another among the pan Naga brethren.


(2). NAMES OF ROMGMEI ARE NOT FOUND IN E-ROLL OF 1963
It is important to clarify that the Rongmeis were brought to Kohima under temporary permit by the British during the early part of the last century for scavenging profession at Kohima, this may not be misread or misinterpreted .That there are no names of Rongmei in the electoral roll of 5th Dec 1963 under Kohima District, as certified by the Joint Chief Electoral Officer & PIO, Kohima vide his letter No. ELE/RTI-2/2013/1758 Dt. 12/03/2013 and also there are no names of Rongmei in the electoral roll of 5th Dec. 1963 under Peren District as certified by Asst Election Officer & PIO Peren, vide his letter No. ELE/RTI/2010-13/639 Dt. 10/01/2013. The RCN while clarifying the statement of Western Sumi Hoho (WSH) admitted “there is no Rongmeis land in Peren District till date” as appeared in Morung Express Dt. 30th Sept. 2007. The right of recognition as claimed by RCN is baseless and is only creating animosities, distrust and resentment among Naga family. 

(3). ORDERED NOT TO ISSUE INDIGENOUS CERTIFICATE TO RONGMEI 
The Hon’ble Guwahati High Court in W.P.(C) No. 4519/12 for compliance of the order Dt. 22/11/2012 also passed an order addressed to the Chief Secretary, Nagaland as : “steps are being taken not to issue Indigenous Inhabitant Certificates to the members of Rongmei Community in violation of the abovementioned conditions stipulated in the Notification dated 28.04.1977. It may be stated that the names of the members of Rongmai Community did not appear in the Electoral Roll on 5.12.1963 and also they did not fulfill the other conditions stipulated in the abovementioned Notification dated 28.04.1977. Hence, you are hereby requested to comply with the aforesaid direction passed by the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court and not to issue ‘Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate’ to the members of Rongmei Community.” Therefore the claim of 1313 of Rongmeis purported to have settlement in Nagaland prior to 1st Dec. 1963 is bogus. Their claim of the so called “deserving shares” and accusing others of “the many evil designers” or claiming their recognition “enlarges or increases the grant of appropriation central provision”. Challenging the legal status of NTC and Christian faith is difficult to be understood. 

(4). RECRUITMENT IN TO GOVERNMENT JOBS WITH BOGUS CERTIFICATES
The recent controversies on the genuineness of Shri Sachui Kamei, S/o. Talung Kamei a Rongmei candidate who claims to be held from Zeliang Tribe was issued an Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate and Scheduled Tribe Certificate by the Deputy Commissioner of Kohima during 2004 qualifying him to seat for job interview in the Social Welfare Department who was later selected for the post of LDA-Cum-Computer Assistant against the seat reserved for Zeliang Tribe(BT). The NTC questions as to how a reserved seat against Zeliang Tribe is given to a candidate held from Rongmei Community and how an Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate is issued to a candidate who did not satisfied the criteria as laid down in Govt. Notification No. AR-8/8/76 dated kohima, the 28th April, 1977. This blatant act of the State is one glaring instance of the State allowing the non-aboriginal tribe to take advantage in snatching away the rightful share of the genuine citizen of the State. This is a shameless attempt to forcefully snatch away its brother’s share leading to the most unwanted inter-tribal conflict that is destroying our bound of unity for the Nagas. 

(5). ANGAMIS AND SEMAS ARE RECOGNIZED TRIBES IN MANIPUR
Some Angamis and Semas had temporary settlement in and around Tadubi and Kangpokpi of Senapati District prior to the creation of Manipur State due to Indo-Naga warfare. As such they were listed as recognized tribes of Manipur as per law of Manipur state but they did not own any village territory as a community in Manipur, therefore they never claimed any benefit at any time, whereas in the case of RCN who owns no village territory claiming their recognition in Nagaland as their birthright is an expression of greed, selfishness and legally not tenable. This is the difference between the Rongmei Council and the Nagas of Nagaland. The RCN comparing themselves to the Cacharis and Kukis who have several villages prior to 1st Dec. 1963 and were listed as Indigenous Inhabitant tribe during the state formation and thereby gaining political mileage, ability to manipulate the present Govt. is not good for the health of the pan Naga community.

(6). ONCE THE DOOR IS OPEN THERE CAN BE NO STOPPING LATER  
The NTC has serious reservation on the issue of recognition of other tribes apart from the Naga tribes of Nagaland State as indigenous inhabitant tribe of Nagaland. The fact is that the Rongmei Tribe recognition has already created precedence. Henceforth, when any Naga tribe from outside Nagaland State applies for the same has to be treated at par with the Rongmei lest it would be discrimination. Rongmei tribe recognition has open a flood gate, now the Nagas of Nagaland would be overwhelmed and stampeded as has happened in the last recruitment drive of Graduate Teachers of 2012 in peren District of Nagaland as a consequence of recognition accorded to Rongmei tribe. 

(To be concluded)

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NTC, ENPO remind CM on Rongmei issue

Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) have reiterated their earlier stand against the inclusion of Rongmeis as recognized tribe in the state of Nagaland.

In a representation, addressed to the state chief minister, NTC president Thepfülhovi Solo and general secretary Nribemo Ngullie and ENPO president Chingmak Chang and general secretary Thamlong Phom stated that in spite of lapse of five months of submission of their earlier representations dated June 3, 2013 by NTC and June 25, 2013 by ENPO, the state government has not taken any steps to initiate in addressing the issue.

The NTC and ENPO have therefore jointly urged the state government to immediately address their demand to de-recognize the Rongmei as tribe of Nagaland in the interest of the Nagas.

NTC had, in its earlier representation, described that the July 23, 2012 Cabinet decision recognizing Rongmei as a Tribe in Nagaland was taken in “hasty manner” setting aside the orders, memorandums and notifications besides the report of the fact finding committee on the issue. – NPN

NTC demands Mathew Rongmei substantiate his claim

Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) is constrained to see an article purportedly given by one Mathew Rongmei, alleged to be a senior journalist and claimed resident of Zeliangrong village in his article appeared in Nagaland Post dated August 18,2013, under the caption “Reading View Points On Rongmei Recognition.”

In his article at para 2, Rongmei claimed that “after last assembly decision to recognized a tribe, the issue which might now see and non issue for the government but the volley of frenzied press releases in media distastefully pent-up a social discomfort…… . If Mathew is an indigenous resident of Nagaland, as a claimed senior journalist should/ought to know the day to day proceedings of the State Assembly since all important deliberations are widely publicized. A senior journalist should give a true and correct picture of his reporting’s and not flatter and misguide to his own fellow Rongmeis who are longing and aspiring to be a recognized tribe in Nagaland although they do not have locus standi. NTC has categorically stated that it is not opposed to giving Rongmeis an indigenous inhabitant of Nagaland State who fulfils the criteria of 1977 government Notification but strongly opposed to recognizing as a Tribe.

NTC as congregation of the aboriginal Tribes of Nagaland, none of the constituent members have come across the Nagaland State Assembly passing resolution giving Rongmeis as a recognized Tribe. NTC therefore demands from Mathew Rongmei to provide date, month and the year when the NTC decided to give Rongmeis a recognized Tribe. Mathew Rongmei has self imposed on the Nagaland Legislative Assembly a thing which has not happen misleading the public. This wrong press publication by an alleged senior journalist ought to be taken to task by the appropriate authority concerned. NTC high lights the press fraternity to scrutinize the misleading statement of fellow journalist and discipline the roguish member to safeguard the integrity of the fraternity. (NTC). NPN

Reading viewpoints on Rongmei recognition

 

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.

Rongmei Tribe recognition by ‘deception’: NTC

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
Chapter 4
4.1 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.

 

TPO rejoinder to “Nagaland Tribes: The Latest Bone Of Contention”

Nagaland Tribes: The Latest Bone of Contention” by Thepfulhouvi Solo appeared in The Morung Express on 09.06.2013. Tenyimi People’s Organisation (TPO) is compelled to respond, after careful analysis, as the article calls for certain clarifications for public interest on the historical stand of the Tenyimi family of Naga group through this rejoinder. In 2009 also the said writer seemed to have tried to confuse the Tenyimi family, by saying some of the tribes wear loin cloth while others are kilted, meaning that they are not from the same genealogical lineage. It is not the dress but the blood lineage and affinity that bind the Tenyimi family together. TPO Research Committee was constrained to give a rejoinder which appeared in the local dailies on 30.11.2009.

It is the considered opinion of the TPO that if the writer first understood the important features of family, clan and tribes based on blood and culture line, he would never advocate for the disbanding of the Tenyimia people’s family. As far as TPO is concerned, we uphold the fact of our history handed down to us through generations of our forefathers that the generations of Tenyiu are known as Tenyimi or Tenyimia and Tenyima. The TPO is an organization of genealogical lineage without political agenda, reorganized after a gap of many generations with utmost commitment to their affinity, wrestling culture, promotion of their Tenyimi language, literature, cultural values, traditional heritage and customary practices.

TPO units are spread over three states viz. Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. Recognition to each other is a continuous behavioral attitude in Tenyimi family before and during the British regime. For instance, traditional wrestling was a common sport of all Tenyimi, organized during the construction of the Naga Civil Hospital Kohima. The same wrestling culture of Tenyimi goes on till date. We are a group of people who grew and multiplied through blood-lineage, cultural affinity and Tenyimi is a canonized term that everybody knows. To the TPO, Mr. T. Solo’s suggestion to disband the Tenyimi family is a serious uncalled for insult. Before he asks for such a wild suggestion, he would better disband his personal family to prove his sincerity to Naga unity, if the disbanding of a family can bring about harmony and unity to a society. If any Naga tribe takes TPO as a casually formed, artificial or farcical organization then it only reveals their ignorance. Naga society is uniquely made up of clans and khels at the base and the community at the higher level in terms of socialization. Charity or unity begins at home and not otherwise.

Another significant feature is the family and clan based on blood relationship of male line. Evidently, a clan spread over to many villages and several tribal communities. As per the initial representation of the report of the Research Committee of TPO, many common religious practices are revealed amongst the Nagas in sub-fields of cultural study. Certain clans of Sumi, Ao and Lotha communities are also from the Tenyimi lineage. However, those datas are yet to be authenticated and needs more data analysis. The writer’s unprovoked call for the disbanding of the Tenyimia Union for future good of the Nagas is in itself an attempt to destabilize the long tradition of the priceless Naga social fabric which is cherished by all Nagas. TPO has never and ever attempted a policy to dislodge the harmony of any tribal identity so associated till today by claiming that such clan belongs to Tenyimi group, so as to maintain the unity of the big Naga family.

Our objective and attempt is to authenticate the inter-relationships that exist for historical reconstruction and a closer intimacy between various Naga tribal communities. In terms of language and culture variations, TPO agrees that all TPO units have different labels of languages, however, our languages are not distinct from each other at all levels. The main activities of the TPO at hand are those conducted by Ura Academy: promoting Tenyimi language, an Institute of World Languages for study of different languages, protection and preservation of our natural ecosystem, organizing and promoting the heritage of our wrestling culture, etc.

TPO is not a fabricated organization with opportunistic motivation for political gain. It is the apex body of the Tenyimi family striving to get to know one another better, to co-operate to deepen their unity, drawing strength and wisdom from their shared roots, originality, identity and common lineage. Every Naga has multiple-identity from personal to family, to clan, to village, and the wider Naga family gradually becoming a people. The said writer will have a wild goose chase if he thinks that TPO will bow down to his perverted version of distortion and destructive intention.

Keku Zeliang
President, TPO
Z. Vasa,
Vice President, TPO

Revoke tribe recognition notification: NTC

Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) has reiterated its earlier demand to the state government to revoke the notification that had accorded recognition to the Rongmei tribe as well as the one that constituted a committee to study and recommend on the applications for recognition of tribes in Nagaland.

In a press release, NTC convenor P. Pius Lotha and secretary Theja Therieh said a coordination meeting of the Council was held on June 22 at Hotel Saramati, in which it had resolved to urge the state government “to come clear on the issue with its actions taken and intimate the NTC for clarity on record.”

It also resolved to extend unwavering support/solidarity with ACAUT “in their endeavor to deliver justice and relief to the citizens from the clutches of unscrupulous sections people.”

Further, it extended solidarity with the Rengmas in Karbi Anglong “displaced from their ancestral land” and urged the state government to take up the issue in all seriousness with its counterpart.

NTC, in strongest term, appealed KPLT to withdraw its ultimatum and give peace and harmony a chance. The meeting also resolved to adopt the NTC constitution presented by the committee during the session. NPN