As the brickbat over the backdoor appointments of police personnel in the State continues to take the limelight, the recently formed Nagaland Congress has alleged that 15% of the personnel in the police department are non-Nagas. The matter of backdoor appointments is serious indeed and if any of the students’ union, association and NGOs are ready, then it is a worthy case to be filed in the courts. There are enough precedents to nullify and terminate these appointments and call for fresh interviews.
However if and when fresh interviews are called then there will be a shortage of Naga locals who will have the required skills needed for some of the trades in the police department. Most of the Grade IV level appointments, the lowest in the government office requires certain specific skills and it is where the Naga youths are found wanting. This is the reason why majority of the barbers, cobblers, cooks and gardeners are mostly non Nagas. Can the Naga youth compete with the non Nagas who already have acquired these skills because these jobs are the sole trade that the family or the caste of the non-Naga aspirants indulges in.
There is also another misconception that all the new appointments in the various government departments should only be filled by Nagas. The State of Nagaland can be termed as a scheduled state since 90 percent of the population are persons of Scheduled Tribes as notified in the order of the Government of India. The State also has tribes classified under the Other Backward Classes who are given special privileges in education and also employment in public offices. The State also has been given special provision under Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India in matters of social, religion and customary laws. The inner-line system still exists at present as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 that requires special permits for people from outside the state to enter into Nagaland especially the hill sections. However all these does not in any way be concluded that the government jobs in Nagaland are meant only for the Naga youths. Reservations for Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, domiciles or indigenous inhabitants can be made but it in no way entitles that all the jobs in the government sector are meant only for the Naga tribes.
Just like any Naga tribal, the same right is actually given to the indigenous inhabitants of the state, the ones who or whose ancestors were already settled during the time of statehood. There are Muslims, who were earlier officially referred to as Mohammedans; Marwaris, now also known by the names of Agarwals and Sethis; Nepalis now also known as Gorkhas; Sikhs etc. who had settled before statehood, some as early as the 19th century. There are also some Naga tribes from other parts of the region who had settled before statehood. In the same way the other non-Naga tribes like the Kacharis, Kukis, Garos etc. enjoy similar rights as any other Naga from the state for employment in the government sector.
Since statehood, there has been a culture of protectionism that have evolved to the current general understanding and practice during recruitments. There is absolute lack of clarity as it is evident from the various court cases that have cropped up in the state over reservation in education and employment. The conflict over the definition of indigeneity in the state persists but there is also the case of domicile that has to be considered. The rights of the children of those non-Naga government employees in the state are also violated if the state fails to provide equal opportunities like any Naga since they are domiciled in the state. On the other hand, some courts outside the state have already ruled that since India is governed by only one set of laws there is just one domicile for the whole of India. So the current conclusion that only Nagas from the state should be employed in the government offices is actually fallacious but no doubt has been successful in misleading the people. It results in emotionally dividing the people from other non-Naga communities and finally from the rest of the country. If this issue was not part of the agreement during the time of statehood then it has to be re-negotiated or new laws enacted by the NLA. Until such time a fallacy should not be used to cover a previous shortcoming as it pollutes the minds, isolates the Naga youth and cultivates a culture of complacency and mediocrity.