The Nagaland government has said guidelines for implementing a localised version of the National Register of Citizens — being updated in Assam — would be framed in consultation with civil society groups and traditional tribal bodies.
The decision follows remarks from organisations such as the Naga Hoho, the apex body of all Nagaland’s tribes, that the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) was premature and could have serious ramifications. Other groups, including the Naga Students’ Federation, said the survey should be restricted to non-locals.
The RIIN exercise was launched on Thursday with designated teams surveying people living in every village and urban ward to prepare a list of indigenous inhabitants who would be provided a certificate.
Nagaland’s Home Commissioner R. Ramakrishnan on Thursday said the concerns and observations of different sections was a welcome development.
“The State government is of the opinion that the present exercises are new initiatives and need consultations with participation from all stakeholders,” he said.
The guidelines for implementation of the policies are still at an early stage of formulation and will be finalised after extensive consultations are carried out,” he said.
The government has also assured the people that it will not take any hasty decision. “Rather, the process will involve and engage the civil society and the citizenry of the State. No decision that is discriminatory or in contravention of the interest of the people or any community will be undertaken,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said.
December 1, 1963, the date on which Nagaland attained statehood is the base year for determining an indigenous inhabitant of the State. The State government claimed that RIIN was being undertaken to prevent outsiders from acquiring fake indigenous inhabitant certificates for seeking jobs and be beneficiaries of government schemes.
But critics said RIIN could be challenging because there is no clear definition of who is an indigenous inhabitant, although the State has 16 recognised tribes. Attempts to arrive at a conclusion have failed because of a Naga customary law that allows adoption of other communities.
An example is that of the Gurkhas who settled in the State before December 1963. They have been recognised as indigenous.