Putting an end to poll-related violence

Veroli Zhimo

As the state of Nagaland prepares for the upcoming elections to the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on February 27, instances of poll-related violence have been reported in Wokha district. This is a concerning development, as violence has no place in a democratic process.

Traditionally, it is often asserted that democracy in Naga society has its roots in the traditional decision-making process that was based on consensus and collective participation. In modern times, the Nagas have embraced democratic principles and values, and the people of Nagaland have the right to freely participate in the democratic process, including the right to vote, stand for election, and express their opinions without fear of repression.

However, the recent incidents of violence, including the torching of a house and clashes between contending party supporters, have caused harm and damage to both individuals and property. The impact of such actions extends far beyond the immediate victims, as it creates a culture of fear and mistrust within the community. It undermines the very foundations of democracy, both in its traditional and modern forms, which relies on peaceful and fair elections.

The police have appealed to the citizens to refrain from violence, and all members of the community, in Wokha district as well as other parts of the state, must heed their call. Instead of resorting to aggression, citizens must come together to uphold the principles of democracy and ensure that the elections are conducted in a peaceful and fair manner.

Furthermore, political leaders and candidates have a critical role to play in promoting peaceful elections. They have a duty to take the threat of political violence seriously and use the tools they have to stop it. They must set an example by rejecting violence and encouraging their supporters to do the same. Political campaigns should focus on issues and policies, rather than personal attacks or inciting violence.

Along with this, it is also the responsibility of all citizens to ensure that the elections are conducted peacefully. People who work in elections offices and at the polls on Election Day are moved to do so by civic pride and duty. They deserve the right to do their jobs without the threat of being harmed by fellow citizens and it is thus, crucial for law enforcement agencies, political leaders, and the general public to work together to prevent and address incidents of poll-related violence.

The people of Nagaland have a rich history of participating in the democratic process, and the work towards building a stable and functioning democracy that respects the rights and freedoms of all citizens must not be squandered.

Comments can be sent to vzhimolimi@gmail.com