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Special zones hit Hoho wall

- Group criticises govt

Kohima, July 17: Several Naga organisations have come out against the state government’s proposal to establish Nagaland special development zone along the foothills bordering Assam.

The Western Sumi Hoho at its general meeting held today in Dimapur, which was attended by its frontal organisations, deliberated on the resolution passed by the Assembly on March 24, 2014, for establishment of the zone along the state foothills.

It resolved to oppose the resolution passed by the Assembly in its present form as it infringes on the ownership and transfer of land rights guaranteed under Article 371(A) of the Constitution, adding that the development can take place in the state under the present set-up without violating Article 371(A).

The meeting also rejected the idea of issuing permanent settlement to non-aborigine tribes — while liberalising their entry and stay for the purpose of investment in the development zones — as this will open the floodgates for influx of outsiders especially from the neighbouring states like Assam which is battling influx from Bangladesh.

The Hoho appealed to the government to respect the voice of the people as the proposed development, without taking the people into confidence, is tantamount to suppression of people’s will.

It warned the government against taking any decision that would be detrimental to the interest of the people of Nagaland and prevent any unwarranted situation that may arise from this issue.

Chief minister T.R. Zeliang in his statement said no harm can come out of the proposal. But the Nagaland Tribes Council said the justifications contained ambiguity and invite more questions than justifications.

“The chief minister’s statements are self-contradictory and misleading,” council president Lendinoktang Ao said.

Zeliang said the state government as the guardian of its citizens is more conscious of people’s rights and privileges than any other group or organisations and that is why it has been the strong votary of special rights and privileges of the Nagas under Article 371(A).

The council acknowledged that the state government is indeed the legal custodian of people’s fundamental rights and privileges as enshrined in the Constitution but section 10(iv) clearly stated that “this will entail the relaxation of the existing system of land ownership and tenure systems that are largely tribal in nature”.

Section 10(v) stated that “in such zones, the ILP (inner-line permit)-system based on BEFR (Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873) need to be relaxed.”

The chief minister asserted that there was “never” any attempt to dilute the provisions of Article 371(A).

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