The Government-recognised NGOs in Nagaland came together in their first ever meeting organized here to dwell on the main concept of the Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution.
Article 371 (A) is a special provision granted to the State of Nagaland to safeguard not only the customary laws, social practices and beliefs of the people of the State but also its resources from the intervention of the Union Government and its various policies unless the State Assembly so decides by resolution.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Luhevi Achumi, district and sessions judge (retired) and head gaon burha (GB) of Luhevi village, said four special provisions are provided to the Nagas under the Article 371(A) such as social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and communal justice involving decision according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources.
Monalisa Changkija, editor of Nagaland Page, a local English daily, said Article 371(A) is completely silent on the economic factor. She said there was no provision under the Article 371 (A) on how the State can formulate the economy of the State.
She also mentioned that Article 371 (A) protects culture and customary laws. However, the Article 371(A) does not have anything on electoral laws as nowhere it was mentioned that the village authority or the GBs can select a candidate for election to the State Assembly, which the Nagas have been practising and is contrary or against the People’s Representation Act.
She further elucidated that the Naga women were marginalised for centuries, adding only men are privy to resources from the State, central, clans, tribal, land ownership, etc. She added that the women will be economically and politically empowered only when they get their rights and entitlements.
Speaking on the beneficiaries’ perspective, president of GBs’ Federation, Salim Konyak, recounted the journey of the Nagas’ struggle and how the Article 371(A) came into being. He stated that the Nagas brought the Article 371 (A) in return of blood.
Speaking on the observer perspective, advocate Limanokchet stated that Article 371 (A) is a living word and not just a written document. He also emphasised on women issues, taxation issues, judicial over-reach, marriage Act, etc.
Also speaking on the rights of women, Nungshirenla Aier, advisor of Naga Women Council, stated that women are limited to the kitchen and looked down upon. She has advocated empowering women to protect their own rights both in socio-political status.