Nagaland Protest Continues as CM Zeliang Refuses to Resign
Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang has refused to resign following the death of two persons in anti-ULB (Urban Local Bodies) poll agitation in Dimapur and appealed to the people to stop violence and not fall prey to rumour mongers.
Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang has refused to resign following the death of two persons in anti-ULB (Urban Local Bodies) poll agitation in Dimapur and appealed to the people to stop violence and not fall prey to rumour mongers.
A statement issued by CM Zeliang's office reads, "Making unreasonable and unconstitutional demands such as asking the entire Cabinet to tender resignation when the Ministry has undisputed, unquestionable majority and support of the entire Assembly, is simply unacceptable and non-negotiable."
There was palpable anger in the state since the killing of two protesting youths in Dimapur on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC), representing different tribal organisations, had served an ultimatum to the state chief minister and his entire cabinet to resign by 4 PM for going ahead with the ULB polls despite opposition from powerful tribal groups that are against 33% reservation for women in the municipal bodies.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju is likely to meet the protesters (NTAC) to ease tension in the state. It is officially not yet known on where and when the meeting will happen.
There was palpable anger in the state since the killing of two protesting youths in Dimapur on Tuesday, the tempers rose further after the decided to keep the body in the heart of Kohima town on Wednesday evening.
The Angami Public Organisation (APO) and Kohima Ao Union (KAT) had demanded the resignation of the entire cabinet by 4pm Thursday, taking moral responsibility of the death of the two protestors. They had also asked for an independent judicial enquiry and the suspension of Commissioner of Police, Dimapur and all officers responsible for the shootout.
Though the cabinet agreed to declare the election process of the ULBs 'null & void' and transferred the CP & DCP of Dimapur, in a bid to facilitate 'Independent Judicial inquiry', the crowd still went on a rampage, as the Chief Minister refused to step down.
On target was the private residence of the Chief Minister TR Zeliang in Dimapur, State Election Commission's office and the Kohima Municipal Council building. All these buildings were vandalised and attempts were made to set them ablaze.
Some of the locals say the extent of damage is huge though administration is yet to spell out official position. The Regional Transport office and that of the Excise Department were also vandalised.
The Regional Transport office and that of the Excise Department were also set ablaze by violent mobs demanding Zeliang's resignation and his entire cabinet for going ahead with the ULB polls.
A large part of both the towns are now under curfew. Nagaland DGP L.L. Doungel told News18 that' the situation is under control in Dimapur. There was some violence in Kohima but situation is under control now.'
In Kohima, 5 columns of Army has been deployed to aid the civil administration. Amidst tight security the Chief Minister and the cabinet were in a meeting till late Thursday night.
In view of the violence, the Kohima District administration has promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in certain areas including Raj Bhavan, Ministers' Hill, and Jail Colony.
"The curfew came into effect from 9:30 on Thursday and would continue till further order," a notification said.
"The Government is of the considered opinion that it has been lenient enough to give in to the demands of the agitators (withholding ULB polls) even though it was steadfastly abiding by the Constitution to which it had sworn its solemn allegiance," the CMO statement said.
Zeliang appealed to all not to indulge in vandalism and arson destroying public properties and spreading fear and panic in the minds of the peace-loving citizens of the state.
Resorting to violent activities to convey one's point of view is irrational and has no place in a civilised modern society, he said.
The Chief Minister also urged users of social media to desist from spreading rumours as untruths were being fed to innocent people by people with vested political interests.
The statement said MLA of Northern Angami Constituency Neiphrezo Keditsu was forced to tender his resignation as the Chairman of Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation on moral ground as one of the two persons killed in Dimapur happens to be from his own village.
Apart from him, no other legislator has resigned and Chief Minister enjoys full support of not only the NPF and Independent MLAs but also of BJP legislators, it said.
Earlier the Guwahati High Court had today ruled that the State Government should constitute the Municipalities and Town Councils in the State with 33% reservation of seats for women.
The judgment came in the wake of a petition filed by one Naga woman who prayed that some extra constitutional bodies, who are opposed to election, are creating hurdles in holding the election freely and fairly and that the State Government be directed to ensure holding of free and fair elections to the ULBs with 33% reservation of seats for women.
The order said, "Having regard to the fact situation of the case, we are prima facie convinced that as per Notification dated 21.12.2016 of the State Election Commission, the election to constitute the Municipal Councils and Town Councils in the State of Nagaland with 33% reservation of seats for women should be held freely and fairly."
The Court went on to direct the State "to ensure that the election, in question, is held freely and fairly and if necessary, adequate security provided to the candidates and voters."
However, the government claims that considering the fluid situation prevailing in several towns and Municipal areas, the State Cabinet wrote to the State Election Commission to postpone holding of polls to the following seven Municipality and town councils. Now decision has been taken to annul the entire electoral process.
At the root of the protest lies the revolt of mostly male members of the Naga groups, who refused to accept the reservation of women in the urban bodies. These protests have been going on since the decision to provide reservation was announced. But with the brutal suppression of the protest in Dimapur, it turned into a massive uprising against the government in power.