Nagaland CM welcomes Governor’s assurance on Art 371 (A)

Kohima, Aug 7: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has welcomed the statement of the Governor R. N. Ravi, who had assured the people of the state that the central government have no plans to abrogate the special provisions under Article 371 (A) in the Constitution.

“The state government welcomes the statement of the Governor and it is taken as an assurance of the Central government,” Rio said.

In an e-mailed statement, Governor Ravi said: “Some people have expressed apprehensions over the implications of development in Jammu & Kashmir on Nagaland. I would like to categorically assure you all that you do not have to worry at all. Article 371(A) is a solemn commitment to the people of Nagaland. It is a sacred commitment,” Ravi said.

“We are earnestly working to happily conclude the ongoing political process which is at a very advanced stage,” he added.

On the Governor’s statement saying that talks with various Naga rebels are at a “very advanced stage”, the Chief Minister said, “The government finds it encouraging that the talks are at an advanced stage and there is hope that the political negotiations will reach their logical conclusion for an honorable and acceptable solution.”

Ravi, who is also the government’s interlocutor for the ongoing peace talks with various Naga insurgent groups including the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), was sworn in as Governor of Nagaland on August 1.

The Governor had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to bring a solution to the protracted issue.

Rio said the state government assures its fullest cooperation in its role as active facilitator and will leave no stone unturned to work towards creation of a congenial atmosphere in order to facilitate the political solution.

“The state government assures every citizen that it will stand up for the rights and the protection of our people under all circumstances,” Rio said and appealed to all sections of the people to unite as one “Naga voice under a spirit of unity and oneness, for it is only through unity that we can collectively face the challenges that lie ahead and together emerge successful.”

On August 3, 2015, the central government and the NSCN-IM signed the Framework Agreement. However, neither side released its details.

The separatist group has been in talks with the government since 1997 after the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Nagaland became India’s 16th state on December 1, 1963. The mostly mountainous state spread over 16,579 square km is home to 16 major tribes, each with distinct customs, language and dress.

The state was accorded special provisions under Article 371 (A) in the constitution.

Article 371(A) states that no act of Parliament shall apply to the state of Nagaland in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, its customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

It shall apply to Nagaland only after the state Assembly passes a resolution to do so, it says.

In June, Neikiesalie Nicky Kire of the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) had stated that Article 371(A) impedes the State’s development.

Article 371(A) states that land and its resources in the State belong to the people and not the government.

Kire had said due to the provisions in Article 371(A), the landowners usually do not allow the government to carry out any development activities on their plot.