Nagaland crisis: Normalcy returns after 18 days of protest but is it for good?

Nagaland returned to normalcy on Tuesday ending 18 days of political crisis, after the Naga Tribes Action Committee called off the indefinite statewide bandh on Monday, but the debate over reservation of seats for women is hardly over. Dr Temsula Ao, a Naga intellectual and a Sahitya Akademi award winning writer said to Firstpost, “Life has become normal now and government offices and institutions which were closed have now opened up.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Soon after the lift of the bandh, the authorities have finally decided to restore internet and SMS services which were snapped for the last 20 days, reported The Nagaland Post. Internet and SMS services were disconnected temporarily as these facilities were being used in spreading rumours which fueled the unrest. Vichutuolie Mere, President of Chakhroma Public Organisatioin, told Firstpost, “Whatsapp and message did not work during the period of agitation. Still intermittently we used to get one or two whatsapp messages.”

Quoting Deputy Commissioner of Kohima, R Soudararanjan of The Nagaland Post also reported that prohibitory orders in the Kohima were going to be lifted. The Section 144 CrPC that was imposed in the three colonies of Kohima-- PR Hill area, Raj Bhavan area and Jail colony would be lifted soon, the report said. Naga Tribes Action Committee said in it’s press release issued on Monday, “NTAC, Kohima has taken the decision to cease the ongoing bandh all over Nagaland ending today on Monday, 20 February , 2017 and focus on pursuing to achieve the desire of the people and re-establish a harmonious life.”

Despite the sense of relief, the bone of contention over 33% reservation for women still exists as the Naga bodies are likely to continue to oppose reservation for women in the Urban Local Bodies election. Reiterating it’s firm stand against reservation of women Ao Senden Joint Co-ordination Committee, another tribal body told The Nagaland Post that the state government’s “blind decision” to conduct ULB election across the state could have curtailed the constitutional rights accorded to the Nagas through Article 371 (A).

In contrast to the Naga bodies firm stand against reservation for women in ULB election, feminist activists in Nagaland are hopeful that the state government will hold the election with 33% reservation for women. Rosemary Dzuvichu, advisor of the Naga Mothers Association, a civil society organisation said to Firstpost, “Whichever government comes to power in Nagaland has to hold election with 33% reservation for women. For this provision is a part of the state’s law now.”

She also expects that the new chief minister will strike out a compromise deal between the groups those who stand for and against the provision. The reservation debate is likely to thrive given the positioning of various groups in Nagaland and peace in the state will depend on the incumbent Chief Minister Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsü’s skill in striking a deal between the two groups as well as adhering to the Constitutional mandate.

Nagaland saw violent protests on it’s streets from 31st January after the state government decided to hold ULLB election with 33% reservation for women which led to death of three persons in police firing. The deaths resulted in statewide bandh in demand of the Chief Minister TR Zelaing’s resignation. The state saw total breakdown of the state machinery in Nagaland as protesters made it impossible for the government to function.

The protest gained such vehemence that the State Secretariat remained closed for long 18 days. On 7th of February the Nagaland Tribes Action Committee gave three days ultimatum to the chief minister to resign. “Chief Minister TR Zeliang should step down on moral ground within the period of 3 (three days) with effect from 8th February, 2017,” a statement issued by NTAC said.

Though he did not resign within three days, on 19th of February the chief minister had to resign and the ruling Naga People’s Front MLAs elected Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu as the new leader of the legislative party the very next day.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2017 20:39:59 IST

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