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State’s Powerlessness

The manner in which volunteers of the Kohima Village Youth Organization (KVYO) were reportedly directed to evict shops from the Super Market Complex in Kohima has raised quite a lot of eyebrow even though in the local Naga context it was not surprising at all for the government to rely on KVYO or any NGO for the purpose of enforcing a decision. Following the publication of this story one comment made online has in particular raised some important queries about the issue of governance or the lack of it. “Was this the right procedure on the part of the State Government? What was the purpose of keeping the Administration for? This is one good reason why we don't get running water at home.......shows the incapability of the Govt”. Apparently the KVYO evicted the shops following directives of the Directorate of Municipal Affairs, Government of Nagaland. So why was the district administration, in this case the Deputy Commissioner, not given the authority to deal with this case? Is it that the authorities in government including the police force are incapable of performing? This is not the first time that the State government is allowing non-state actors to do something which is essentially the role of the administration and police. Either the government machinery is incapable of doing its job or else its role is being undermined. Both assessments may well be true if we go by the way the state of affairs is being managed. Take the case of how law and order has been brought under control—not because of any great feat performed by our Home Department. With so much of resources at its ready disposal, much more is expected of the government machinery to do a good job.    

Coming back to the eviction order, perhaps the government of the day will have to give an explanation because the directive from the concerned department to the youth body is by itself inconsistent with the earlier stand taken by the State government most notably the Chief Secretary. To recall, the Chief Secretary issued a notification on September 8, 2011 cautioning civil society including students’ organizations pointing out that independent ‘non-local registration drives and issuing identity cards by realizing certain fees’ encroaches into the legal jurisdiction of district administrations and the police. Issued by the Chief Secretary of Nagaland Lalthara, the government’s notice said only the district magistrates/deputy commissioners are empowered to issue Inner Line Permits to non-locals. Another notification from the Chief Secretary came out with a specific order clamping down on road blockades. That particular notification rightly noted that such activities had serious implications for maintenance of Rule of Law and of public order in the State. All such notifications being issued from time to time was a way of the government asserting its authority in the backdrop of all sorts of people taking law into their own hands. However one of the government departments allowing a youth organization to enforce its decision contradicts the spirit of the above notifications issued by the Chief Secretary. It also sets a wrong precedent and more doubt is created on the credibility of our government which is no longer seen as the epitome of authority that it is actually meant to be—seeking obedience of its subjects, performing its duty of providing security and order, its justice dispensing role, providing various services and welfare measures and ensuring the greatest good of the greatest number.

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