Nagaland state has already witnessed total bandh on two separate occasions this year but for the same reason – against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. One was called by the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) under the aegis of North East Students Organisation (NESO), and the other by a conglomeration of several civil society organisations spearheaded by the Nagaland GB Federation. The people of north-eastern states fear that the bill may facilitate influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries into the region because of several factors like poverty and shared international borders. Nobody can sense the possible danger such a bill can bring better than the people of the region themselves as they have already been through it. They have learned the hard way with illegal immigrants threatening the demography of almost all the states, to the extent that indigenous people become minorities in their own land. As for the Nagas, there is a provision in Article 371 (A) of the Indian constitution that says no Act of Parliament shall to the state of Nagaland on various matters, including land ownership, transfer and its resources unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland (NLA) decides so by a resolution. But people are still apprehensive that the bill could be manipulated to supersede the rights guaranteed in the constitution of India.
While the fears are genuine, the manner in which some political parties in the state are trying to score some brownie points out of the issue is un-statesmanlike and dangerous. This habit of making big statements with political tint from the comfort of their rooms instead of joining the public in the fight can be counterproductive rather than helping the cause as civil society organisations and citizens are protesting against the contentious bill on their own out of genuine concern and not through the initiative of any political party. The government of Nagaland may have taken time to make its stand on the issue public but there was some sort of consensus when it did as it was an outcome of a consultative meeting with tribe organisations, political parties, and non-governmental organisations (NGO). The House had passed a resolution during the meeting to oppose CAB and rejected its implementation in Nagaland. So, attempts to politicise the whole issue and resort to political bickering by lawmakers just because they belong to different party is uncalled for. Playing divisive and blame game at this juncture will only weaken the fight for the common cause. People cutting across social, religious and political lines should join hands at time like this. You can make a difference through participation but not through praises from a far distance.