The Eastern Nagaland National Workers’ Association (ENNWA), GPRN/NSCN, said the direction issued by the Naga national political groups (NNPGs) on the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) strongly adheres to the Naga customary practices and procedures.
The association also said the direction confines only to the present political state of Nagaland.
The association issued a release on Saturday in response to the recent statement of the Eastern Naga National Workers Forum which reacted to the contention of the working committee of NNPGs on the register.
It stated that “any person(s) living in Nagaland, including those from outside the state, who came after December 1, 1963, shall not be entitled to indigenous status”.
The forum termed the statement of the NNPGs on the register a “distortion of Naga history”.
The ENNWA said the present political position of the Nagas in each territorial boundary should be taken into consideration while taking up the matter on the identity of the Nagas.
The association viewed that the NNPGs’ opinion on RIIN was in “good faith to clearly identify who is who in this complicated world.”
It said the sacrifices and untold sufferings and the agonies of the “eastern Naga (Burma Nagas) people for the national cause is held fresh in “our minds” and will be written with golden letters in the annals of the history of the Naga national movement.
However, the association said the Nagas of Nagaland cannot certify them as indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland and therefore, the question of “undermining” or “betraying” them did not arise.
“We are addressing the matters pertaining to state of Nagaland and not about Nagalim,” it stated.
The association said any Naga from one linguistic and tribal territory settled in the land of another tribe cannot indulge in the affairs of that tribe.
According to the association, it is an “established indoctrination in the Naga customs” that in the internal matters of one tribe, another tribe cannot intervene.
It added each tribe of Nagaland has a well established and politically well demarcated territory, customarily known as Naga country.
Asserting that a bona fide Naga is identified by his village and clan, the association said, “These cardinal principles and procedures still in practice cannot be thwarted or destroyed by the vested interests of the Nagas from other territories or states or countries.”
It said there is no authority other than the ancestral village which has the power and authority to issue any form of identity to a Naga.
“Only such Nagas identified with clan and village alone can have a stake in the customary and political affairs of the Nagas of Nagaland,” it said, adding the Nagas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, likewise, have their own respective identities and customary systems.
The association said it is beyond the competence and powers of any authority outside the purview of the customary system of one Naga territory to certify, identify or interfere with same affairs of another territory.
“Such violations or authoritarian indulgence in the territorial boundaries of one tribe by any authority or tribe from another territory would be an infringement on the sovereign constituent powers of the respective village authorities and the internal affairs of that Naga tribe,” it said.
The association added that the Nagas of Burma, in the same way, cannot endorse the indigenous inhabitant identity of the Nagas of Nagaland or any other state and vice versa.
It said the rights of individual Nagas, whether it be citizenship or identity, flows from the authority vested within the villages of their birth.
“There should be no questions raised from any quarters on these matters,” it asserted.
It said the customary system should not be left open for political debates and statutory interventions “through such conflicting arguments in the public forum.”
The association said if any clarification on any matter is required, the organisations the concerned through their representatives of tribal bodies are free to raise the matter with the NNPGs.
“The doors are open for anyone to understand and deliberate on critical issues,” it added.