Defer ULB polls or face indefinite total bandh, JCC cautions
Morung Express News
Dimapur | January 23
The Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) today issued a 3-day ultimatum to the state government to defer the ULB elections or face “indefinite state-wide total bandh.” The Nagaland state government was given till January 26 to fulfil what the JCC articulated as the “will and aspiration of the people.”
The ultimatum was contained in a memorandum to the Chief Minister submitted on January 23 through the Deputy Commissioner, Dimapur following the public rally organised at the State Stadium, Dimapur.
Stating that the opposition to the ULB elections has no intention to suppress women’s rights, rather the memorandum maintained that the Naga tribe organisations are against the state government not heeding the appeal of the tribe organisations to postpone the ULB polls till the Nagaland Municipal Act is amended.
“The Nagas in general stand committed to safeguard our vital inalienable rights of natural resources, customary and traditional rights. Having said that the decision of the Government forcefully trying to conduct the ULB election, 2017 despite strong protest from the people… is in direct confrontation with the will and aspirations of Naga people.”
The rally, lasting over an hour long, was organised amidst hushed election campaigns and as people flocked ward-wise booths arranged for issuing voter slips. The number of people at the gathering, with a sizeable presence of women, varied with conflicting estimates that ranged from 10,000 to as high as 55,000.
Police presence at the rally venue was negligible and the water cannon from the government’s arsenal was conspicuously absent. Queried on this, a police official responded that security was detailed at the minimum so as not to incite emotions.
Article 371 (A), keeping intact Naga customary laws and traditions, the state government reconsidering the February 1 ULB elections and appeals to candidates “voluntarily retire” from the election race were the common refrain in the speeches delivered by the heads of the ENPO, Lotha Hoho Dimapur, Angami Public Organisation, Chakhesang Public Organisation, Ao Senden, Western Sumi Hoho, CNTC and the NCD.
Candidates, formerly in the race, became unlikely mascots with one reminding that the “strong words” uttered at the rally be fulfilled.
The views expressed at the rally were carried over to the press conference held at the Lotha Hoho Ki subsequently.
APO president, Dr. Velhousa Seleyi addressing the media termed the imbroglio as a “litmus test” for Nagas while stating that provoking the people for the sake of monetary gain is not development. He urged candidates in the fray to consider whether affiliation to a political party is more genuine than to one’s community.
The CPO president maintained that it is a misconception to assume it is a “men vs. women” agitation.
CNTC representative, Khondao Ngully equated the agitation with the 1951 Naga Plebiscite terming it as a mass movement which the state government should value.
“We are there for the election but subject to modification,” said JCC convenor Supu Jamir, while adding that Article 371 (A) should not be equated with “mere town council elections.” The recognition of the Naga customs and traditions was the result of the blood and toil of our forefather and parents, he said.
Queried on the legitimacy of asking candidates to retire, Jamir replied there is provision for “voluntary retirement.”
Asked whether the principles of justice and equality were considered while making the move to protecting the rights guaranteed in Article 371 (A), Jamir maintained that the Constitutional provision is special. He downplayed the counter narrative that of one constitutional provision coming in the way of another as “Many confused Naga people are twisting this special status given to Nagas.”