Naga tribal groups threaten agitation as CM refuses to quit

Kohima, Feb 10 (IANS) Naga tribal groups have threatened to intensify their agitation after Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang refused to accede to their demand for his resignation and their three-day ultimatum in this regard ended on Friday.

The tribal groups, under the banner of Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), have threatened to intensify their agitation.

The two Naga tribal bodies had served a three-day ultimatum to Zeliang to step down following the government’s decision to hold local bodies elections with 33 per cent reservation for women in 12 towns across the state and the death of two persons in clashes between the police and protestors at Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland, on January 31 night.

Government offices across Nagaland remained paralysed for the ninth consecutive days on Friday in view of the an indefinite shutdown of government offices and a ban on plying of government vehicles.

“We met the Governor (P.B. Acharya) on Friday and told him of our demand seeking the resignation of the Chief Minister. The governor told us that he is waiting for the chief minister (who is scheduled to meet him this evening) to discuss on the issue,” NTAC Convener K.T. Velie told IANS.

The NTAC leader, however, warned: “If Zeliang does not step down, we have no other option but to further intensify our agitation in the form of an indefinite total shutdown which will affect all educational institutions, markets and functioning of banks.”

Zeliang, who flew back to Nagaland on Friday morning after meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday evening, had reiterated he would not not step down.

However, Naga People’s Front legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu had last week submitted his resignation as Chairman of Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) Limited on moral grounds since one of the persons killed in the Dimapur police firing was from his village.

The Chief Minister had explained Singh the ground reality of the on-going face off between the NTAC and the government, and the ensuing shutdown which have affected the normal day to day life.

Zeliang also briefed the Home Minister about how his government, determined to fulfill the Constitutional obligation of holding polls to the civic bodies, had initiated the process after several tribal organisations expressed their support to holding of elections to the ULBs with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women, and how these organisations took a U-Turn after the polls were announced.

Nagaland has never elected a women legislator since it gained statehood in 1963. The lone woman member of Parliament from the state was Rano M. Shaiza, who got elected in 1977.

Meanwhile, Nagaland Police chief L.L. Doungel told IANS that police are keeping a close watch on the strike and will function accordingly.

The government continued to shut down the internet and mobile data service to stop the spread of rumours through social networking sites.

The Kohima district administration also imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC banning assembly of more than five persons and carrying of arms in certain areas including Raj Bhavan, Chief Minister’s official residence and the Civil Secretariat.