Dimapur, August 11 (EMN): Three seemingly unrelated protests spread across three ‘key’ districts of the state on Friday served as yet another reminder of just how dark a time it is for the people of Nagaland to live through.
The state’s administrative capital, Kohima; commercial capital, Dimapur; and Mokokchung, the district with the highest number of elected representatives to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly – were all theatres of protest, of different nature and aspiration, on Friday.
NPF youth seeks removal of TR govt, governor
The protest at Kohima, organised by the ‘youth wing’ of NPF group in support of Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsu, was purely political. According to our Kohima Correspondent, Alice Yhoshü the NPF central youth wing today launched a four-day sit-in protest outside the Raj Bhavan, Kohima to remonstrate the governor’s decision to dismiss Dr Shürhozelie Liezietsu’s ministry and install TR Zeliang.
The NPF youth wing is demanding for what it called, ‘restoration of the Constitution of India’, dismissal of “the unconstitutional government of TR Zeliang” and for the Centre to recall Governor PB Acharya immediately.
Addressing the protesters who were gathered in about 200-300 strength, MLA Yitachu derisively stated that the governor, who is supposed to be the custodian of the Constitution of India, is instead violating it here in Nagaland. “The central government must immediately recall this man”, he asserted.
“If the government of India does not want to implement the Constitution of India, leave us (Nagas) alone! It should allow us to use our own constitution, otherwise, implement the Indian Constitution in spirit and in letter,” Yitachu stated. He explained that the Constitution of India does not allow “party-less people” to form a government, nor does it allow internal (political) party issues to be taken to the offices of the governor or the Assembly.
Yitachu claimed that though Acharya has been talking about corruption in many departments, by installing an ‘unconstitutional government’, he has committed the highest level of corruption.
He also asserted bitterly that Nagaland today no longer has NGOs, tribal hohos, civil rights movement activists or intellectuals as no one has dared to raise their voice against the many ‘unconstitutional actions’ that were being carried out. “This means there is no civil organisations, there are no right thinking people in the state,” he claimed.
With ‘such unconstitutional actions’ taking place, but if the Naga society remains silent then the fault is not on NPF party but it is an insult to the intellectuals of Naga society, Yitachu asserted.
The MLA also told the gathering that the NPF’s message that the Constitution is not being applied in Nagaland must reach Delhi. He said Nagas were being asked to leave behind their self aspirations and join the mainstream by embracing the Constitution of India, but he wondered if the Constitution was not implemented then where would the rights or future of the Nagas be. He was of the view that if Naga people accept that number/majority is right, then they should also be prepared to accept that ‘India as a whole is right, and Nagas are very small so they should not have rights’.
He said TR Zeliang’s government is illegal because constitutional provisions were not followed to install it.
Yitachu also made a snide remark that there were many individuals, groups and organisations who talked big things, filed RTI and PILs in courts but wondered where they were today. He retorted that for a class-II post not being requisitioned to NPSC or even saying few appointments in one department were made illegally, many organisations threaten to go on strikes and file cases in court but when the main system of governance and the government itself is ‘unconstitutional’, no one was voicing out. “From the chief minister to his council of ministers who have been appointed unconstitutionally, this is the highest level of corruption,” he stated, saying it was but a big disgrace to the Naga people as a whole.
Not limiting his scathing comments on governor Acharya and chief minister Zeliang, Yitachu also alleged that former chief minister and sitting MP Lok Sabha Neiphiu Rio, was trying to reap from others’ field when his own field failed to yield any harvest after he started the Democratic People’s Party (DPP).
“When he (Rio) is trying to mislead the people in Nagaland, how can he represent the Naga people in the Parliament? How can a person who was suspended by the party claim to be the interim president of that same party?” he questioned.
On the disqualification petition filed by both the (10) MLAs supporting Liezietsu and those (36) supporting TR Zeliang against each other, he said “brother-in-law is not above the law”, indicating that the NLA speaker was related to chief minister Zeliang through marriage.
Echoing similar sentiments, NPF central working president Huskha Yepthomi alleged that Acharya is responsible for the breakdown of the Constitution in Nagaland and that he has lost any moral right to remain in the state’s Raj Bhavan but to ‘pack up and go’.
He said the party has already intimated to the ECI not to entertain any papers submitted by the MLAs who were expelled by the party and has no right to be writing in the name of the NPF. “Twenty of them have been expelled officially from the NPF and they have no moral rights to talk about the party. We have expelled them according to our constitution and all the party members should be aware of this,” he stated.
He said the NPF people wanted to be good citizens by living within the Constitution of India, but Acharya did not want their citizenship. “Nagas were not Indians before 1960 but when 16-point memorandum was accepted by the government of India and enshrined in Article 371A of the Indian Constitution, then only we have become Indians. We were made Indians under the agreement but if the Government of India, through Acharya, does not like our citizenship, leave us alone. We can make our own Yezahbo (constitution)…. So that we will not disturb the government of India anymore” the NPF leader stated.
“If the government of India cannot protect us according to the provisions of the Constitution, we can make our own law, protect ourselves, or otherwise, we have a good neighbouring country…. We can ask even Republic of China to protect us with their Constitution,” he asserted. For any eventuality, he said, governor Acharya should be held responsible for breaking the Constitution of India in Nagaland.
Stating if Acharya refuses to leave immediately then the party must make its ‘next programme’, he added that by his staying in Nagaland as governor, India is losing one state from its Union. He insisted that a man who does not know the provisions of the Constitution cannot become the custodian of the Constitution.
“Before all the 20 lakh Naga population starts agitating against the provisions of the Indian Constitution, against the Indian sovereignty and integrity, he (Acharya) should go away,” Yepthomi said.
MLA R Tohanba who also briefly addressed the gathering, said governor Acharya, through his “arbitrary action” tried to destroy the ‘Naga fabric and Nagas’ rights’. Mention may be made here that Governor Acharya is currently in Delhi and is likely to return after a day or two.
The workers union of Nagaland Pulp and Paper Company Ltd (NPPCL), popularly known as Tuli paper mill, under Mokokchung district also staged a protest by way of imposing an indefinite blockade on National Highway 61 from early Friday morning onwards.
Our Mokokchung Correspondent, Imrongkumba Aier reports that the blockade started from 5 am Friday.
‘NH 61 blockade till demands are fulfilled’
The decision came into effect after the Union has appealed and communicated through letters to the higher authorities including the prime minister of India, time and again seeking redress of the union’s charter of demands for the last many months.
However, the authorities’ failure to act on the workers’ demands has left the union with no other option had to resort to calling the bandh on NH 61 from this morning.
Leaders of the workers’ union stated that the agitation for the demands started in May last when the workers wore black badges to protest, and also organised ‘pen and tool down strike’. The union then submitted a memorandum to the chairman-cum-managing director of Hindustan Paper Corporation on July 26 last, stating a list of demands to be fulfilled by August 10.
Failure to comply with the demands would force the workers to impose blockade on NH 61, the authorities were forewarned. The following are the main demands put forth by the workers’ union:
- Immediate restart of the rehabilitation works of NPPCL
- Immediate release of nine months’ salary due to the workers
- Immediate release of gratuity and terminal benefits of death and superannuated employees
- Immediate implementation of 2007 pay-scale in NPPCL, because the officers who have been deputed in NPPCL from other units of HPC are enjoying 2007 pay-scale
According to the workers, they were yet to receive salary for the last 9 months, even as the authorities have “abruptly suspended” rehabilitation works of the mill in September 2015 after it was restarted in December 2014.
Indefinite blockade from today would affect supply of essential commodities to Mokokchung town and other neighbouring districts as the union has resolved that they will continue until their demands were met.
The bandh volunteers who were stationed at Tzudikong just in front of the NPPCL entrance have strongly enforced restriction vehicular movement, said a WU NPPCL official. However, according to the official, schools, colleges, shops and other essential services have been exempt from the purview of the bandh. Members of Ao Kaketshir Mungdang, and the ADC Tuli also ‘visited’ the protestors today.
Dimapur garbage: 9 hours standoff
Completing this chain of protests across the state on Friday were the residents of Sunrise colony in Dimapur. To protest what leaders of the colony on Friday morning claimed was the government’s repeated betrayal of assurances to relocate the Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) garbage dump, the residents of the colony prevented DMC trucks from entering the dumping site for about 9 hours.
The residents of the colony, including students in school uniform, sat on the road leading to the garbage dumping site from around 6 am on Friday to stop the entry of DMC trucks and workers. They came prepared with placards and loudspeakers.
By then the district administration had already deputed riot police as well as IRB mahila personnel at the location. DMC officials led by administrator, Moa Sangtam and Zakabo V Rotokha the SDO (C) of Dimapur arrived at the scene to negotiate with the residents.
Members of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) and Dimapur Urban Council Chairmen Forum were also there to play the role of “mediators”. During the standoff, harsh words flew thick and fast – especially between the colony members and NCD representatives.
It was only after the colony leaders were given a written assurance of a visit by the parliamentary secretary for Municipal Affairs on August 12, and a meeting with the department concerned on the same day, that they allowed the DMC trucks to pass through.
Interestingly, the colony residents insisted that the meeting should be only between the department concerned and the “victim colony”, and that no “third parties” should be entertained at the meeting.