Violent Protests in Kohima, Government Property Vandalised

Nagas rage violently against chief minister T.R. Zeliang's refusal to meet their demand on local body polls after two people were killed in a police firing.

Naga tribals set ablaze the Kohima Municipal Council office and the office of the district collector to protest against Chief Minister TR Zeliang's refusal to meet their ultimatum, in Kohima. Credit: PTI

Naga tribals set ablaze the Kohima municipal council office and the office of the district collector to protest against chief minister TR Zeliang’s refusal to meet their ultimatum, in Kohima. Credit: PTI

Kohima: Violence continued in the Nagaland capital on February 2 as a mob went on rampage, burning down several government properties and vandalising government vehicles in protest against chief minister T.R. Zeliang’s refusal to meet their demand on local body polls.

Over a thousand tribesmen armed with spears and machetes took to the streets and set afire the old secretariat building which housed the offices of the Kohima municipal council, the regional transport office and the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority. They also damaged government vehicles.

The tribal bodies were demanding the resignation of Zeliang’s cabinet following the government’s decision to hold local body elections in 12 towns across the state after two people were killed in the state following clashes between the police and the public at Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland on the night of January 31.

Naga People’s Front legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu on Thursday submitted his resignation as chairman of the Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) Limited on moral grounds since one of the people killed at the Dimapur police firing happens to be from his own village.

“The situation is totally volatile. The mobs are on a rampage. We are making all attempts to bring the situation under control,” Nagaland police chief, L.L. Doungel told IANS.

Troopers of Assam Rifles have been deployed in Kohima to assist police to tackle the situation.

The tribal bodies vowed to continue with their protests till chief minister Zeliang steps down.

The state government has shut down internet and mobile data service to stop rumours spreading through social networking sites, a government official said.

Zeliang, who said he is distressed by the unfortunate turn of events in the last few days, asserted that he enjoys the full support of not only his party legislators — the Naga People’s Front and independent legislators besides the BJP legislators. The party has also reaffirmed its support.

On the demand for his government’s resignation, Zeliang said, “Making unreasonable and unconstitutional demands such as asking the entire cabinet to tender resignation when the ministry have undisputed, unquestionable majority and support of the entire assembly, is simply unacceptable and non-negotiable.”

Confirming the resignation of Keditsu “owing to immense pressure from various quarters” on moral grounds, he said no other legislator has resigned.

Appealing to citizens not to indulge in senseless vandalism and arson, destroying public property and spreading fear and panic in the minds of peace-loving citizens, he said that the government had been lenient enough to give in to the demands of the agitators even though it was steadfastly abiding by the constitution.

He also appealed to all social media users to be responsible and desist from spreading false, malicious rumours.

“Governments come and go, and people in authority change but public property, which belong to all of us, shall continue to belong to us and posterity. It would be sheer stupidity on our part to destroy our own property since it would be akin to cutting off our own limbs,” said a statement from his office.

The tribal bodies have been opposing the Naga People’s Front government’s decision to hold the elections with 33% women reservation, stating it infringes on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371 (A) of the constitution.

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