EDITORIAL

Listing indigenous people

indigenous people
File photo

 

The Neiphiu Rio government in Nagaland has definitely taken a very good step to enlist the names of all indigenous inhabitants of the state. This list, which the Nagaland government has called the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), is nothing but a localized version of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that Assam had started preparing a few years ago and is on the verge of completion by July 31. While Nagaland, like all other states of the Northeastern region, has witnessed infiltration of a large number of people of doubtful citizenship status, certain civil society groups of the State have from time to time tried to conduct house-to-house surveys for listing the non-Naga people and the IBIs (Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrants) living in the hill state. These exercises have, however, not deterred the entry especially of the illegal migrants of Bangladesh origin, with most of them carrying with them documents that are either fake, or are fraudulently obtained in Assam. The RIIN, however, will be the first official master list of the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland. The Rio government, in its notification issued on June 29, had clearly stated that the RIIN is intended to prevent people from acquiring fake indigenous inhabitants’ certificates in the state. The RIIN will be based on an extensive survey conducted by government officials, in addition to which the government will dig into official records of indigenous residents from villages and urban wards. The state government has fixed 60 days from July 10 onwards to complete the exercise. While most people across the region should welcome the measure adopted by the Neiphiu Rio government, certain groups have, however, expressed reservations over it. This has prompted the State Government to state that guidelines for preparation of the RIIN would be finalized only after a thorough consultation with various civil society groups. Given the fact that a large number of illegal migrants and people of doubtful citizenship status have fanned out all across the region, governments in Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura should also examine the scope of preparing a similar register in their respective states too.