The Democratic Alliance of Nagaland Legislature Party (DANLP) on Friday appealed to the National Tribal Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) to lift the indefinite shutdown. The appeal came after the Naga tribal groups threatened to intensify their agitation after Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang refused to accede to their demand for his resignation and their three-day ultimatum in this regard ended on Friday.
The two Naga tribal bodies had served a three-day ultimatum to Zeliang to step down following the government’s decision to hold local bodies elections with 33 per cent reservation for women in 12 towns across the state and the death of two persons in clashes between the police and protestors at Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland, on the night of January 31 .
“The DAN Legislature Party resolved to appeal to the agitating groups to lift the indefinite shutdown, and take up the offer for dialogue being extended by the state government in the true spirit of democratic practices so as to bring about amicable resolution to the ULB issue in the State,” a statement issued from Chief Minister’s Office stated.
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The DAN Legislature Party, which held an emergency meeting this evening at the State Banquet Hall, discussed the present situation and came to the conclusion that the issue of election to the Urban Local Bodies is over with the entire process having been declared null and void, and that the stage now is set for dialogue and negotiations on the future course of action to be taken in this regard. Of the 60 DAN members , only 53 legislators including the Speaker Chotisuh Sazo, Chairman of the DAN and President of the NPF party Shurhozelie Liezietsu, Vice Chairman of DAN and President of the BJP Nagaland Visasolie Lhoungu, and lone Nagaland Rajya Sabha member KG Kenye attended the legislature party meeting as special invitees.
It stated that the legislators discussed the present situation and came to the conclusion that the issue of election to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) is over with the entire process having been declared null and void, and that the stage is now set for dialogue and negotiations on the future course of action in this regard. On Thursday, Governor P.B. Acharya had declared the entire process of elections to ULBs as null and void.
“We met the Governor (P.B. Acharya) on Friday and told him of our demand seeking the resignation of the Chief Minister. The governor told us that he is waiting for the chief minister (who is scheduled to meet him this evening) to discuss on the issue,” NTAC Convener K.T. Velie told IANS. The NTAC leader, however, warned: “If Zeliang does not step down, we have no other option but to further intensify our agitation in the form of an indefinite total shutdown which will affect all educational institutions, markets and functioning of banks.”
Zeliang, who flew back to Nagaland on Friday morning after meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday evening, had reiterated he would not not step down. However, Naga People’s Front legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu had last week submitted his resignation as Chairman of Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) Limited on moral grounds since one of the persons killed in the Dimapur police firing was from his village. The Chief Minister had explained Singh the ground reality of the on-going face off between the NTAC and the government, and the ensuing shutdown which have affected the normal day to day life.
Zeliang also briefed the Home Minister about how his government, determined to fulfill the Constitutional obligation of holding polls to the civic bodies, had initiated the process after several tribal organisations expressed their support to holding of elections to the ULBs with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women, and how these organisations took a U-Turn after the polls were announced.
Nagaland has never elected a women legislator since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman member of Parliament from the state was Rano M. Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.
Meanwhile, Nagaland Police chief L.L. Doungel told IANS that police are keeping a close watch on the strike and will function accordingly. The government continued to shut down the internet and mobile data service to stop the spread of rumours through social networking sites. The Kohima district administration also imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC banning assembly of more than five persons and carrying of arms in certain areas including Raj Bhavan, Chief Minister’s official residence and the Civil Secretariat.