The protests in Nagaland against the government took an ugly turn this Thursday, when the agitated mobs set government buildings and vehicles on fire. After the state authorities struggled for 24 hours, the situation in Nagaland’s capital Kohima calmed down with the deployment of 375 soldiers from the paramilitary forces. The army men were appointed at various locations across the city to control the growing agitation among people. The protestants reacted against government’s decision of reserving 33% seats for women in the upcoming civil body elections.
In past 2 days, the city witnessed several instances of vandalism and arson, when the government bodies refused to revoke its decision. If you missed the heat of Nagaland protests, here are 10 facts that you must know.
1. In December 2016, the Nagaland government announced civic bodies’ elections, wherein they announced 33% reservation of seats for women candidates. Following this decision, several tribal bodies like Naga Hoho opposed the civic elections that were due on February.
2. According to the tribal groups, women reservation would infringe on their old Naga customary laws. They claimed that their laws were protected under Article 371(A) of the constitution. The tribal laws state that women have no political rights.
3. In past, the local women groups like JACWR (Joint Action Committee for Women’s Reservation) and the NMA (Nagaland Mothers’ Association) approached the Supreme Court, demanding for their rights.
4. On January 28, aggressive tribal groups observed a 12-hour bandh (public shutdown) in various districts of Nagaland. The Angami Youth Organisation observed bandh in Kohima, the Kiphire District Joint co-ordination committee observed bandh in Kiphire. The Chakhesang Youth Front observed bandh in Phek district. Other communities like Kiphire GB’s Association, Tikhir Tribal Council and the United Sangtam Likhum Pumji supported this protest.
5. Although the tribals proclaimed that they were against women reservations, a local editorial claimed that this was not the reason why these protests were happening. The Naga protests took place because the government didn’t fulfil their promise of deferring the elections. Also, the fact that the tribal organisations and local women were supposed to meet the CM regarding this issue, which was later postponed.
6. Amidst the clash between the police and the protesters, two people lost their lives and several others were injured. Subsequently, the tribals went on a rampage and spread violence all over the state.
7. The situation got worse by February 2 as the mob set the Kohima Municipal Council building on fire. The fire spread around, damaging the private buildings, vehicles and the transport authority office in that area. The CM imposed an indefinite curfew under Section 144 in Kohima and Dimapur from 7pm onwards.
8. The Nagaland government sought help from the Home Ministry. Home minister Rajnath Singh asked CM TR Zeliang to patiently convince the tribals to accept the reality. The reservations are applicable to all the states and so, they’re inevitable in Nagaland, as well.
9. CM Zeliang reported the incidents to Singh and requested for army security. Consequently, 375 soldiers were sent to Nagaland. The opposition has demanded resignation from Zeliang, but he brushed these allegations off saying that the requests were unconstitutional and illegitimate.
10. Most of the political parties have withdrawn their candidates from the elections. However the ruling government (NPF and BJP) refused to succumb to social pressure.
Though the situation is under control, the civil body polls that were due on 11 out of 32 municipal bodies on February 1 were postponed for now. As of now, the state is under strict vigilance of the Centre-employed armed forces.