Nagaland continued to remain tense on Wednesday following deaths of two youths in police firing on Tuesday night in violence against the state government’s decision to hold election to urban local bodies (ULBs).
“The situation continues to be tense but under control. Indefinite curfew is still on in Dimapur and Chumukedima,” Nagaland police spokesperson Shouka Kakheto told Hindustan Times.
On Wednesday, Nagaland cabinet decided to set up a judicial inquiry commission to inquire into the deaths and injuries sustained by protesters in Dimapur and Longleng districts.
“Keeping in view 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,” said a statement issued by Chief Minister TR Zeliang’s media cell.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh called Zeliang on Wednesday and inquired about the law and order situation.
“I am deeply anguished by the unfortunate turn of events last night. It is most lamentable that two precious lives have been lost,” Zeliang stated in a condolence message.
Two persons were killed and two others were injured in the state’s commercial hub of Dimpaur when police fired on a mob comprising hundreds of armed youths trying to enter the private residence of the CM on Tuesday night.
Angry with the state government for deciding to hold polls on February 1 despite an earlier deal to postpone election by two months, youths armed with spears and machetes had come out to the streets in protest.
Seven others also got injured in Longleng district on in police firing.
“We had called a day-long ‘bandh’ on Wednesday to ensure polling doesn’t take place anywhere. There was no violence on Wednesday, but people are still angry,” Kevichatha Sechi, vice-president of Angami Youth Organisation said.
Bodies of the two youths killed in police firing were taken on Wednesday to the state capital Kohima where more protests are expected on Thursday.
There are no confirmed reports yet on whether polling took place in the 12 ULBs where the state government had decided to hold election on Wednesday.
On Monday, the state government had signed a deal with Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), the umbrella organization representing tribal bodies opposed to holding the ULB polls with 33% reservation for women, to postpone the election by two months.
But following a Gauhati High Court order on Tuesday directing the government to hold elections, the state government decided to have polls in 12 of the 32 municipal bodies in the state.
As soon as news of this development spread, JCC and many other tribal bodies, who had earlier called of their ‘bandh’ following the deal, called for enforcing total strike to prevent holding of the polls.
Due to a boycott call and threat of ex-communication by JCC, no candidate had filed nomination in 10 municipalities and in 3 urban bodies candidates had won unopposed.
Following the state government’s request to the state election commission to postpone polls in seven ULBs including Dimapur for fear of law and order problems, election to those civic bodies have been postponed by two months.
Polls for ULBs in Nagaland haven’t been held for more than 10 years due to opposition from traditional tribal bodies who are against reservation for women in local administration.
Nagaland’s tribal bodies are opposed to reservation against women as they say it will infringe on customary laws and also violate Article 371A of the constitution that grants special status to Nagaland and guarantees preservation of such laws.
Nagaland has never elected a women legislator to the assembly since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman MP from the state was late Rano M Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.