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Morung Express News
Dimapur | January 31
Just as a semblance of normalcy was returning, the Nagaland state government’s move to announce the conduct of polls to 12 town councils on February 1 led to violent upheavals in Dimapur and Longleng. In Dimapur, two persons were killed and at least five others were injured; while seven people were injured in Longleng in police firing.
The government going back on its words and announcing polls despite agreeing to defer the February 1 polls ignited emotions in an already tense atmosphere.
In the lead up to the violence in Dimapur, a meeting scheduled by the Joint Coordination Committee at 2:00 pm in Dimapur on January 31 to take forward the NBCC brokered January 30 meeting between the JCC and the Nagaland state government ended abruptly after news of impending polls circulated.
Apparently feeling betrayed, youths in a highly agitated state called for ‘lighting bandh’ across the state at the meeting held at the Tourist Lodge. The JCC subsequently announced an indefinite bandh beginning 6:00 pm, Tuesday while wrapping up the meeting to head to its temporary office at the Tenyimi Union Dimapur (TUD) complex. Businesses though began to down shutters by 4:00 pm.
As dusk fell, youth assembled at the Tenyimi Union Dimapur complex where a brief yet adrenaline charged meeting was held.
The youth then dispersed apparently headed to the Chief Minister’s Dimapur residence at 2 ½ Mile. Police set up barricades at the Dhansiri bridge to prevent the apparent move but hordes of youths managed to bypass taking alternatives routes.
Report from the site of the confrontation said that the police deployed water cannon to disperse the gathering crowd only to be responded with catapult shots and other projectiles. It happened at the NH 29 junction of the approach road leading to the CM’s residence, said the report.
It was around 10:00 pm when the police personnel retaliated with gunfire, said one person from the site of the incident. Three of the injured protestors were admitted to the CIHSR while another was admitted to the ZHRC. One of the dead victims was reportedly brought dead to the CIHSR while the other was reported to have succumbed at the ZHRC.
The injured in Dimapur were identified as Nokuzo (23), Abenjang (48), Moa (32), Rongsentoshi (63). One of the dead was identified as Avizo, while the other’s name could not be ascertained.
The firing was reported to have lasted for over an hour which occurred as the NBCC met the JCC in Dimapur. Earlier, in the evening, JCC convenor, Supu Jamir said that the JCC declined an invite from the NBCC to meet, only for the meeting to take place later.
Before the violence erupted, the JCC co-convenor, Vekhsayi Nyekha responding to queries from media persons at the TUD complex, had expressed displeasure at the state government’s perceived failure to uphold the January 30 assurance and stated that the government will be held responsible for any untoward incidents.
“The government has turned back on its word… it has rendered yesterday’s agreement null and void,” further said Nyekha. “We’re happy the NBCC intervened but it’s unfortunate the situation has come this,” added Nyekha as emotions rose on the streets.
ENPO Advisor, Toshi Wongtong termed the act of the government as “blasphemous and treacherous.” “They have cheated the people and the church. The government owes the people an apology. No one can say what will happen on February 1. Full responsibility lies with the government,” said Wongtong.
On the mobilisation of youth, that subsequently tragically went awry, the JCC said that no instruction was given to create disturbance.
Meanwhile, at Longleng town, eight polling stations, including ballot boxes were destroyed on Tuesday evening by protestors opposing the decision to hold polls to the Longleng Town Council.
Seven people were injured in police firing during the violence, informed the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO). Three of these people, the ENPO stated, were in critical condition. Longleng has 11 polling stations. The situation at Longleng was said to be tense.