• Appeals Government to stand by its commitment to uphold, protect the constitutional rights of Naga women
• Condemns use of force, intimidations by tribe organisations
Kohima, January 13 (MExN): The Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation (JACWR) has urged the Nagaland State government to complete the election process for the municipal and town councils as per the directive of the interim order from the apex court.
In its emergency meeting held in Dimapur, the Committee also condemned the “undemocratic use of force, intimidations, threats of banishment and otherwise by some tribe organisations in stopping the filing of nominations of candidates, including its women candidates for the municipal polls in the towns of Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Medziphema and forced withdrawal of candidates in some other towns,” according to a press release from Abeiu Meru, Convenor, JACWR & President, NMA and Dr. Rosemary Dzuvichu, Co-Convenor, JACWR & Advisor, NMA.
The JACWR further questioned the sincerity of some of the elected representatives of the people, who after having passed the First Amendment of the Nagaland Municipal Act passed the Second and Third Amendments in the successive Assembly sessions at the request of the tribal bodies. “They seem to have lost all sense of Constitutional allegiance and adherence to law by agreeing to withdraw bona fide candidates, who are now eligible for the polls after scrutiny of their nomination papers,” it stated.
Applauding the courage of those Naga women, who in the face of such stiff resistance, filed their nomination for the forthcoming polls, the release asserted that the number of women candidates who had filed and were ready to file nominations in all towns of Nagaland “proves beyond any doubt, that Naga women are ready to take up such responsibilities of leadership.”
The statements from different organisations, it lamented, seem to convey that for the Naga society, the voices of women, the fifty percent of the population, is not the voice of the people. “This is not the Middle Ages and while fully respecting age old traditions of our forefathers, with the changing times, we also uphold the democratic rights of women as equal citizens and as human beings under the Constitution. We are not trying to fight with men, we are seeking that our Constitutional rights guaranteed to us under the Constitution, the Parliament and passed by the Nagaland State Assembly is given to us. It is most unfortunate that the issue of reservation for women in Municipalities has been wilfully misinterpreted and politicised by vested interests,” it reiterated.
Meanwhile, it termed illogical the demand of various organisations to withdraw the case (regarding the women reservation) in the Supreme Court. The State Government’s petition, it said, has made the case “infructuous and for Naga women, the case is over.”
The Committee further pointed out that in the last six years there were enough observations made by the courts, including the apex court, that reservation for women has nothing to do with Article 371 A, and that it stands by it. “To defame women in public banners, that we are playing with the rights and future of the Nagas is highly objectionable, and it proves that there are vested politicised interests who are bent on misinterpreting the law or ignorant of the law,” it added.
It mentioned that reservation for women is implemented in all municipalities and town councils in different parts of the country in various states. In major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and down south and in the North East like Tripura, it is 50% reservation for women. In the neighbouring states like Manipur, Assam, Sikkim, there is 33% reservation for women. Like Nagaland, Mizoram has the special provision of another clause of the Article in the Constitution and has implemented 33% reservation for women without any fears of infringement, it stated. Reservation of seats, JACWR noted, is not forever and Naga women are not demanding that.
The JACWR appealed to the tribe organisations to “remember their Christian ethics and desist from exposing themselves to the outside world with such unchivalrous behaviour, threats and unbecoming statements.” As Naga women and bona fide members of the respective tribes, it stated, “it is against the inherent, the very essence of Naga culture to declare a war on women, that violates democratic principles and our fundamental right. The kind of threats and intimidations to candidates, that are emanating from such respected apex tribal bodies, the last few days ,that has brought great shame to the Naga family.”
The JACWR also urged the State Government to stand by its commitment to uphold and protect the constitutional rights of Naga women and the elected legislators to remember they are the guardians of all citizens, including women in the State.
Further, it expressed shock over the “stoic silence” of the many churches which have been sloganeering for Clean Election and expected sane Christian voices to emerge and protect the constitutional rights of women.