Ko­hima Burns As Na­gas Op­pose Women Quota

Sev­eral state govt offices, the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil of­fice and press club burnt down

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Bikash.Singh@ times­group.com

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

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