Bitter sweet recognition of Rongmeis as an indigenous tribe of Nagaland
IMPHAL, October 28: Welcoming the granting of indigenous tribe status to the Rongmei tribe in Nagaland, the Rongmei Naga Council, Manipur (RNCM) has at the same time pointed out that many individual of the tribe have been left out from the list.
A statement signed by its president Thuankubui Pamei and general secretary Achong Gangmei said that this has divided the tribe into two groups-indigenous and non indigenous which is very unfortunate.
It further appealed to the Nagaland government to grant the same status to all Rongmei citizens of Nagaland having voting rights in the State and their children.
Rongmei is one scheduled tribe included in the list of Scheduled Tribes of the Constitution of India and the status of a Schedule Tribe being granted to the Rongmei is a constitutional entitlement anywhere within the territories of India and naturally it includes Nagaland too, it reasoned.
The Rongmei Naga Council of Manipur (RNCM) is prompted to appeal to the Naga Tribe Council of Nagaland (NTCN) to use its good office to let the people restrain and refrain from creating further misunderstanding that may aggravate the situation and jeopardize the common interest, unity among the sister tribes and encourage division within the Naga family, it said.
In this regard, it is strange and absurd to find member-tribes of Tenymie being party to the opposing groups, it said.
Rather we appeal to them to extend help and brotherly cooperation to the Rongmeis living in Nagaland to obtain a full status of indigenous tribe of Nagaland covering all the Rongmei citizens of Nagaland, it said.
The settlement of the Rongmeis in Nagaland is traced back to 1920s under the British period and onwards and they were the first settlers of Naga Bazar of Kohima which they called as Kathuilong village, it said before adding that in Dimapur a village called Ragailong was set up in 1937, located at the site of the present New Market.
In Jalukie area of Peren District, mass migration took place in the last part of the 1965 and early 1966 from Manipur, Assam and some Rongmei from Dimapur responding to an ‘Appeal’ dated October 18, 1965 of the Zeliangrong Tribal Council, Nagaland for settlement in the valley, it claimed.
Now, upon the granting of the status of indigenous tribe to the Rongmeis by the State Government of Nagaland, certain section of the people of Nagaland are being reactive to it and have started opposing the decision, it said.
Approval of Rongmei as an indigenous tribe of Nagaland is neither intended to snatch away the rights of others, the share of anyone nor to deprive of opportunity of anyone, it said.
In Manipur, we have some negligible population of Angami and Sema and neither we the Nagas nor the other communities of Manipur are complaining against them. We all are happy to see them achieving progress in all walks of life –social sectors, services, identity and customary activities etc, the statement said before adding that there is no question of indigenous or non indigenous people among us.
It is not only the Rongmei who migrated to Nagaland. In fact many of the Nagas migrated from Manipur to Nagaland, it said.
Though the artificially demarcated Indian State of Nagaland is limited only to small parts of the Naga country, our cherished vision of Nagaland is not confined to the present Nagaland State only, it extends to all the Naga inhabited areas bound by love, blood, ancestry, common homeland and territory, it added.
“We have to see beyond our exclusive outlook and to stop attempting to separate or exclude any Naga tribes from the common fold of the Nagas and no one should give place for infighting among the Nagas”, it said.
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