Following the abolition of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, there are apprehensions in Nagaland about the possibilities of a similar action against its special provisions that are enshrined in Article 371A.
Political parties and tribal organisations, however, said they were confident that the Centre “will not dare” to make a similar move in the state as it would jeopardise the ongoing peace process and hurt the sentiment of the Nagas. Negotiations are currently on between the Centre and the insurgents groups to resolve the decades-old Naga political problem.
Article 371A states that no act of Parliament – with respect to religious or social practices of the Nagas, their customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources – shall apply to the state unless the Assembly decides by a resolution.
“As an Opposition party, we are confident that the central government will not dare to take the Jammu and Kashmir path in Nagaland, lest the sentiments of Naga people are hurt and the consequences would be severe,” Achumbemo Kikon, spokesperson of the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF), said.
“The situation between Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir is different, since Nagaland got statehood following an agreement,” he said. Nagaland became the 16th state of the country on December 1, 1963.
Kikon, however, admitted that though Nagaland has some special provisions under Art 371A, it has never resolved the Naga political issue. “We are apprehensive, but with the talks for settlement of the Naga political issue still on, we hope that the Centre will no make any such move (to abrogate Art 371A),” said ruling Nationalist Democratic Progress Party spokesperson Merentoshi R Jamir.
Mutsikhoyo Yhobu, a Naga leader associated with various tribal bodies and civil societies, said, “We are apprehensive that the present BJP-led government at the Centre does not want to continue with the special provisions granted to any community or state in the country. The present government is more focused on creation of Uniform Civil Code.” He maintained that it was high time for the Naga people and the state government to react strongly before it is too late.
“We have apprehensions. But so far there has been no sign that the central government would resort to such drastic measures against the Nagas,” said an official of the Nagaland Tribes Council. The peace dialogues are going on smoothly and both sides have arrived at an understanding, he said.
A framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by the NSCN(IM) and the government after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years. The first breakthrough was made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland, which started soon after India’s Independence in 1947.
“We have hope that no such steps will be taken against the Nagas by the Centre,” he said. Naga Mothers Association adviser Rosemary Dzuvichu said repeal of Article 370 was a violation of the democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, describing it as the “darkest hour of the democracy”.
The Centre had on Monday revoked Article 370 and proposed that the Jammu and Kashmir be bifurcated into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.