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Uneasy calm in Nagaland's Kohima, curfew lifted

Kohima woke up to deserted streets as scores of paramilitary personnel marched through the town on Friday, hours after mobs burnt down government buildings and vandalised property against quotas for women in municipal polls.

“There is still tension on the streets, but the situation is under control now,” Nagaland director general of police LL Doungel told HT on Friday morning.

On Thursday evening, irate mobs set fire to offices of the Kohima municipal council, the deputy commissioner, excise superintendent and the local transport department.

Local reports say the state information office, the old secretariat and office of the ruling Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) were also partially burned and vandalised.

Curfew was imposed and troops from Assam Regiment moved in to control the situation. Mobile internet services have also been discontinued to prevent spread of rumour and further violence.

Curfew was lifted in Kohima on Friday, but prohibitory orders continue in the state’s commercial hub Dimapur where two youths were killed and several others injured in police firing on Tuesday night.

Streets in Dimapur and Kohima were deserted due to a ‘bandh’ called by tribal organisations seeking resignation of the Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF)-led government headed by chief minister TR Zeliang.

Despite growing demands for his ouster, the CM termed them as “unreasonable and unconstitutional” since the government enjoyed “unquestionable majority and support of the entire assembly”.

“The CM is distressed by the unfortunate turn of events in the last few days and appeals to all not to indulge in senseless vandalism and arson,” said a statement issued by Zeliang’s media cell on Thursday night.

The state cabinet has already declared polling to the 12 urban local bodies (ULBs) held on Wednesday as null and void. But the newly formed Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) isn’t satisfied.

Naga tribal bodies are opposed to holding of ULBs with 33% reservation of women as they feel it will infringe on customary laws and also violate Article 371A of the constitution which grants special status to Nagaland.

Besides Zeliang’s resignation, the umbrella organisation of the major Naga tribes wants action against policemen responsible for the deaths of the two youths on Tuesday night.

The bodies of the two youths were shifted from Dimapur to Kohima on Wednesday. Tribal bodies want fulfillment of their demands before funeral rites are performed.

“Our agitation won’t end till all our demands are met. We are willing to continue protests for days, weeks and months, if necessary,” Kevichata Sechi, vice-president of Angami Youth Organisation (AYO), one of the constituents of NTAC told HT.

On Monday, the state government signed a deal with tribal bodies to postpone elections by two months.

But with Gauhati high court directing the state government on Tuesday to hold ULBs polls, the state government decided to go ahead with polling in 12 of the 32 municipal bodies.

This angered tribal bodies and they imposed a ‘bandh’ and protesters spilled out to the streets.

Source: HindustanTimes