The Nagaland government has asked all its employees to declare if their family members or relatives are associated with any “underground organisations”, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The order came days after Governor RN Ravi wrote a letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio last month alleging that a few “armed gangs” were threatening authority of the elected government in the state.
“As per instructions, all the administrative heads of departments and all the heads of the departments are directed to obtain information in the self-declaration form attached herewith from all government servants under his/her department/office regarding family members and relatives in underground organisations…” a memorandum issued on July 7 by Chief Secretary Temjen Toy said.
A note in the order mentions that family member means spouse, sons or daughters, sibling and parents of the government employee while relative will consist of “anyone who is directly related to any of the family members of the government employee”, according to the Hindustan Times.
However, the government has not specified the names of any particular rebel outfit. The memorandum mentions that the order has been issued “as per instructions”, but it was also not immediately clear who had issued these instructions.
The self-declaration form comprises five questions: whether there is any family member or close relative in any Naga underground organisation; if yes, then the name of the person in the underground organisation, the relationship with the government employee, name of the underground organisation, and the relative’s role in the underground organisation.
An unidentified official told the newspaper that such a step could make law enforcement tasks easier “wherever kinships were causing complications or paving the path for unlawful activities”. The information has been sought latest by August 7.
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In the letter dated June 16, Ravi, who is also the Centre’s interlocutor in the ongoing talks with Naga rebel outfits for a peace accord, had criticised the state government over the existing law and order situation in the state. Ravi had alleged that “armed gangs” were running their parallel governments “challenging the legitimacy of the state government”.
However, the Nagaland government rebutted Ravi’s claims. In a statement issued last week, it said that the governor’s assessment of law and order situation in the state is “precarious” and doesn’t appear “factual”.
“The Central Government is in a ceasefire agreement with the Naga national political groups for more than two decades and the talks are reported to have concluded in October 2019 and accordingly the people are expecting an early political solution,” it said. “The state government feels that terming the organisations as ‘armed gangs’ may not be in the interest of the peace process and may not be congenial to the achievement of lasting peace which is the desire of both the Government of India and the state government.”
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaak-Muivah), which is currently the most influential Naga group on the Indian side of the border, responded to the letter, saying it does not commit extortion but levies “legitimate taxes” on people.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is a coalition partner in the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party-led government in Nagaland. Ravi retired as special director of the Intelligence Bureau in 2012, following which he was appointed chairperson of the Joint Intelligence Committee in 2014 for three years.
On July 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs had declared Nagaland a “disturbed area” for another six months. The government said that Nagaland is in a dangerous condition and use of armed forces in the state is necessary.