Kohima: Violence continued in Nagaland on Wednesday with protesters ransacking the office of the election commission in Mokokchung district and the district office of the ruling Naga People’s Front in the wake of the state government’s decision to hold the urban local body elections.
In the meantime, Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Sentiyanger Imchen issued a notification stating the local body election, which was to be held in 12 towns across the state was “withheld” due to the abnormal situation prevailing across the state and also as desired by the state cabinet.
The tribal bodies have been opposing the Naga People’s Front government’s decision to hold the elections with 33 per cent women reservation, stating it infringes on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371 (A) of the constitution.
Hundreds of protesters ransacked the two offices in Mokokchung district in western Nagaland.
“They ransacked the district election branch office and NPF office. We are still trying to gather more details on the incident,” Nagaland police chief, L.L. Doungel told IANS.
“The situation is still tense, but we are all out to ensure that there will be no further breakdown of law and order,” the police official said.
Taking serious note of the prevailing situation, the state government has shutdown internet and mobile data service to stop the spread of rumours through social networking sites, a government official said.
On Tuesday night, two persons were killed and three injured in the state following clashes between the police and the public at Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland.
Hundreds of people armed with spears and machetes took to the streets in protest on Tuesday night. Many of them marched to the private residence of Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang.
“The police resorted to firing to disperse the agitating crowd after the protesters attempted to storm the Chief Minister’s residence,” Doungel said.
There were also reports of seven people sustaining injuries when the police fired on them to prevent the demonstrators from entering the office of the District Magistrate Longleng.
Meanwhile, the Nagaland Cabinet on Wednesday decided to institute a judicial inquiry into the incidents leading to the death of, and injury to, persons at Dimapur and Longleng districts and payment of ex-gratia to the victims.
The Cabinet also expressed deep concern and anguish over the violent events in Dimapur and Longleng and sadness over the death of two persons and injury to other persons and decided to convey condolences to the bereaved families, an official communique stated.
“Keeping in view the sentiments of the people, and the prevailing situation, the Cabinet decided to ask the State Election Commission to withhold the ongoing process of elections to the ULBs and take up with the remaining postponed process of the elections to the ULBs as notified by the SEC on 31.1.2017,” an official said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang and enquired about the law and order situation in the state.
Zeliang briefed Singh about the incidents on Tuesday evening and also about the decision of the Cabinet to withhold the polls to the ULBs.
“Singh told the Chief Minister that the decision taken by the state government to fulfil the constitutional obligation of holding elections to the civic bodies was not wrong at all, and advised him to patiently convince the people of the state to accept the reality,” a statement said.
Nagaland Governor P.B. Acharya, who is presently in Itanagar, also called up the Chief Minister and conveyed his sympathies and concern at the unfortunate turn of events and offered any assistance required in the prevailing situation in the state.
The state government had on Monday signed a deal with the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) — an umbrella organisation of tribal bodies opposed to holding the elections — to postpone the polling by two months.
However, the Guwahati High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to constitute the municipalities and town councils in Nagaland with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women.
The court also directed the Nagaland government to provide security to the candidates and voters.