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Naga tribal bodies protest against civic elections

Angami Youth Organisation activists taking out a protest rally against 33 percent reservation of seats for women in municipal elections, at Kohima on Monday. – UB Photos
 DIMAPUR, Jan 10 - The Naga tribal bodies upped the ante against holding of elections to municipal and town councils in Nagaland slated for February 3. The State Election Commission has on December 21, 2016 notified holding of civic elections in the State with 33% reservation of seats for women candidates.

Even though the date for filing of nominations ended on January 8, the State Election Commission extended it by a day. However, no nomination was filed on the extended day. Despite strong opposition from Naga bodies that reservation of seats for women in civic body elections infringes on Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India that gives special privilege to the Nagas, scrutiny of nomination papers was done today. Various other tribal bodies also asked the candidates who filed nominations to withdraw their papers.

The Angami Youth Organisation called a total bandh in Kohima and Medziphema, Ao Senden in Mokokchung, while the Chang Tribal Council and Tuensang Village Citizen Union in Tuensang on January 9 tried to thwart the filing of nomination papers on the extended day, sending a strong message to the State government for brushing aside their concerns by the hasty decision to hold the civic polls.

The bandh was enforced in Kohima and Medziphema by thousands of Angami youth volunteers at strategic locations and outside the Kohima DC’s office to prevent filing of nomination papers. Shops and other business establishments remained shut though some food joints and pharmacies remained open. Some volunteers reportedly shot down a drone belonging to the Assam Rifles with catapults.

The bandh called by the Ao Senden in Mokokchung was total and peaceful with normal life coming to a standstill, while the bandh in Tuensang, which began on Sunday evening till 6 pm of January 9, passed off peacefully. The bandh, called jointly by Chang Tribal Council and Tuensang Village Citizen Union,X was aimed at preventing candidates from filing nomination papers for election to the Tuensang Town Council.

The unions further expressed gratitude to all intending candidates for their cooperation and for understanding the aspirations and demand of the people by not filing the nominations. The bodies also thanked the volunteers for executing all assignments efficiently and for ensuring peace during the bandh.

Earlier, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) clarified that following the ultimatum submitted by the Naga Hoho and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation to withdraw the government’s decision of holding civic body elections, the government apprised the leaders of the two apex bodies about the position of the government and the need to hold elections, at a meeting at the Chief Minister’s Dimapur residence, where the Cabinet, Parliamentary Secretaries and other Legislators were present.

The CMO said the government has neither ignored nor did it have the intention to sideline the ultimatum submitted by the Naga Hoho and the ENPO. However, if any misunderstanding has been created on this count it is deeply regretted, the CMO added.

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