Groups protesting in Nagaland against the 33% reservation for women in urban local body elections said they will continue their strike till all their demands are met. Nagaland Tribes Action Committee Convenor KT Vilei told The Indian Express on Saturday that the state government had conceded only to their demand to call off the polls. “Two other demands – resignation of the entire ministry as well as the Dimapur police commissioner’s suspension and dismissal of the jawans who shot two youths – remain unfulfilled,” he said.
The NTAC and Joint Coordination Committee had blocked the entrances to government offices on Saturday, including at the Secretariat, and also stopped government vehicles from plying in Kohima and Dimapur. “We will intensify our agitation and extend the bandh to all districts of the state from Monday. It will continue till the chief minister and his colleagues step down,” Vilie told The Indian Express.
JCC Co-Convenor Vekhosayi Nyekha said there was no ending their agitation till Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang resigned. “From Monday, we will also launch a campaign with the help of leaders of each tribe to press for the resignation of MLAs from their respective tribes. This way, the Zeliang government will collapse sooner or later,” he said.
While the indefinite strike continued, the protests that had begun with violence remained peaceful and restricted only to government offices. “We have no problem if women contest elections, but that cannot be at the expense of Naga traditions and customs,” Vilie said, while Nyekha added that the quota would create “social problems, including political instability and corruption”.
Moreover, the chief minister said the Raj Bhavan will call for a meeting with the NTAC and the Nagaland Baptist Church Council to settle the dispute. “The election was put off for two months in some areas to make people understand why reservation was needed. It is a constitutional requirement and Nagaland has not been exempted from it,” Zeliang told The Telegraph. “After I accepted all their demands, why are they demanding my resignation?”
Violence erupted in Nagaland on January 31 after two people were killed in police firing in Dimapur. Another 12 were injured in clashes after the government tried to go ahead with the urban local body elections the next day. The Nagaland High Court had been directed to constitute 33% reservation for women in municipalities and town councils in the state, after which the protests began. This would have been the first introduction of the quota in these polls.