Protests in Nagaland against central dictate

Shurhozelie Liezietsu. Chairman of Naga People's Front, was sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Nagaland on 22nd February. This followed the forced resignation of T.R. Zeliang in response to the demands of a united front of Naga people's organisations.

For the past several weeks, Nagaland has been engulfed in mass protests. People are protesting against the decision of the Indian State to impose local body elections with 33% reservation for women, disregarding and overriding the customary laws and procedures that have governed local administration in Nagaland so far.

Responding to the mass protests, the Government of Nagaland decided to cancel the municipal elections which had been scheduled for February 1, 2017. However, on January 31, the Guwahati High Court stayed this decision and ordered the government to go ahead with the elections the next day. In the face of massive public opposition on the streets, the government was able to organize elections only in a few municipalities. Soon after, it declared the elections null and void. Article 371 (A) of the Constitution of India stipulates that "no Act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland in relation to religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga Customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources".

According to this article, the Central Government cannot impose local body elections on the Naga people. In spite of this, the Supreme Court of India ruled in 2016 that the Government of Nagaland must organize elections to municipalities in accordance with the rules that apply to all states.

The bourgeois news media portrays the Naga people's protest as being backward and in opposition to the empowerment of women. This is deliberate slander and false propaganda to denigrate the Naga people. It is aimed at hiding the criminal role of the Central Government in inciting trouble to divide and weaken the Naga national movement.

The Naga people, including men and women, have been waging a relentless struggle for national self-determination ever since 1947. It is this struggle which has forced the Indian ruling class to concede a certain degree of political autonomy to Nagaland in civil administration and justice. The recent Supreme Court verdict is part of the attempts of the Indian ruling class to weaken the unity of the Naga people and sabotage their struggle.

However, the Naga people have shown once again that they will fight tooth and nail against all attempts of the central state to negate their right to preserve and develop their own mechanisms and process of governance.

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Mar 16-31 2017    Struggle for Rights    Rights     2017   

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