Nagaland govt reacts to Governor’s comment on law and order, says assessment not ‘factual’
Nagaland government has reacted to Governor RN Ravi’s recent letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, stating that his assessment of the prevailing law and order in the state being “precarious” is far from “factual”.
The detailed 20-point statement released on Thursday through Nagaland’s Information and Public Relations (IPR) department comes after Ravi wrote to Rio on June 16 mentioning how half a dozen armed gangs are challenging the legitimacy of the state government.
“The state government is of the view that the assessment of the law and order being precarious and grim and having deteriorated and collapsed since August 2019 does not appear to be factual,” the statement read.
Ravi, who was appointed Governor in August 2019 and is also the Centre’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, in his letter, had stopped short of naming the Naga rebel groups, most of whom are engaged in peace talks with the Centre since 1997, when the ceasefire agreement in the state came into force.
Nagaland has been under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act since 1958 when the legislation was promulgated and it was not even a separate state but a part of undivided Assam.
Nalagand became the 16th state of India on December 1, 1963.
The Rio-led government, a coalition of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has cited how despite the signing of the Framework Agreement in 2015 with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M), and the conclusion of peace talks with all pro-talks Naga rebel outfits last October, the intractable political imbroglio is far from being amicably resolved.
“Terming the organisations as ‘armed gangs’ may not be in the interest of the peace process and may not be congenial to the achievement of lasting peace, which is the desire of both the Central and the state governments,” the statement read.
“Overall law and order situation in the state continues to be normal and peaceful. All the wings of the law and order machinery of the state are working effectively in tandem to ensure a peaceful atmosphere,” it added.
The statement mentioned 893 criminal cases had been filed against various rebel factions in the past five years and 1,238 people arrested. A total of 713 cases of extortion have also been lodged in the same period and 1,007 people nabbed.
The state government has said eviction drives have been initiated while reacting to Ravi’s charge on illegal encroachment of forest land by rebel outfits. It also refuted the claim that prices of essential commodities in Nagaland were exorbitant.
In his letter, Ravi had proposed that under the provision of Article 371 (A) (1) (b) of the Constitution henceforth all key law and order decisions such as transfers and postings of all officers entrusted with the maintenance of law and order of and above the district level would be done after the Governor’s approval.
“I also propose to periodically review law and order in the state and issue required lawful decisions. In order to instill and ensure accountability, I also prefer to review the annual performance appraisal reports of all such officers,” the letter read.
But the Nagaland government pointed out that the procedure of taking approval from the Governor for transfer and posting of senior officers was done away through a resolution in the state assembly in December 2013.
“Any decision to put the clock back in contravention of such a resolution in the guise of discharging special responsibilities under Article 371 (A) (1) (b) would be against the principles of democracy and would be viewed as anti-people,” the statement said.
NSCN (I-M), the biggest of the Naga rebel outfits, has also reacted to Ravi’s letter, where he had cited ‘armed gangs’ indulging in extortions, and issued a statement on June 27. It justified “extortion” as “levying legitimate taxes” from the people.
“If he (Ravi) finds pleasure to handle the Naga issue as a ‘law and order’ problem, he is not the right person to solve the long-standing Indo-Naga problem. Such an interlocutor will rather complicate and prolong the process,” the NSCN-IM statement read.
Naga rebel groups have given up the demand for a sovereign Nagaland.
However, a final agreement with the Centre is still pending on the inclusion of Naga-dominated areas in the north-east as an integral part of Nagaland in a bid to reflect the ethnic groups’ unique socio-cultural identity.