Kohima Burns As Nagas Oppose Women Quota
Several state govt offices, the municipal council office and press club burnt down
Guwahati : Tribal mobs protesting against the state government’s decision to provide 33% reservation to women in civic bodies burnt down several state government offices in Kohima on Thursday, apart from the municipal council office and press club and several vehicles. At the time of going to press, the fire and arson were reported from certain residential areas too.
The violence prompted non-Nagas to flee Kohima even as the Centre promised to rush security forces to the state. The state government also called of polls to urban local bodies which began on February 1.
The protest that escalated on Tuesday over the reservations snowballed into a political slugfest on Thursday after tribal organisations leading the agitation refused to bury bodies of two persons killed in Tuesday’s violence. They demanded the resignation of chief minister TR Zeliang. The joint coordination committee of tribal organisations have vowed to continue with the indefinite statewide bandh till the Democratic Allianceof Nagalandgovernment,of which BJP is a member, resigns.
“There is large-scale arson in the capital city Kohima, the situation is getting worse,” director-general of Nagaland police, LL Dungell told ET. The government has shut down mobile internet services. Tribal organisations said that the 33% women’s reservation would infringe on the special rights guaranteed by Article 371(A) of the Constitution.
The Article provides special provisions for the Nagaland: “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga custom- ary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland, unless the LegislativeAssemblyof Nagalandby a resolution so decides.” The quota law was passed in 2001 but never implemented until a recent court order. Former member of the ruling Naga People’s Front, Neiphiu Rio, trained his guns on the government and said that its reluctance to ‘listen’ to the ‘voice of the masses’ had resulted in breakdown of law and order. Rio is a former chief minister and member of the current Lok Sabha. He said that despite the warning of apex tribal ‘hohos’ and civil society organisations, the state government had gone ahead against customary practices and ‘wishes’ of the people. Quotas should be implemented only after a dialogue with all stakeholders and tribal hohos, he said.
The protest on Tuesday led to clashes between police and protestors and a person each was killed in Dimapur and Longleng. This led to escalation of violence on Wednesday, which saw protesters ransack the election commission and NPF office in Mokokchung district. Nagaland’s chief electoral officer, Sentiyanger Imchen, later issued a notification putting off the local body elections that were to be held in 12 towns across the state.
The Kohima Municipal Council
Chief Minister TR Zeliang