By Ila Ananya
After two people were killed in Dimapur and more than 21 government buildings were burnt down in the last five days, an emergency meeting was held in Kohima on Saturday night. Taking the matter to a new level entirely, the state cabinet has now decided that they will submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, asking him to amend the Constitution through an ordinance — keeping the state out of the purview of the Constitution that deals with 33 percent reservation for women. Reportedly, the meeting at Kohima had MLAs from all the 16 major tribes in Nagaland. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Zeliang has refused to submit his resignation despite demands.
After incessant protests and bandhs in Nagaland over the 33 percent reservation for women in civic bodies, the Nagaland government decided to put off elections to the various municipal bodies in the state. This was after the Guwahati High Court directed them to go ahead with the civic polls.
According to reports, the duration of the deferment would be decided by the Cabinet and the Election Commission. The government’s decision came after a meeting with the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), which had first issued a call to boycott the elections because they opposed the quota for women. Reportedly, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) had requested the state government to give the JCC time “to reach out to various tribal organisations with the understanding that by the expiry of the deferment time, the JCC will gain acceptance of the idea of reservation for women,” said a statement from the Chief Minister’s office.
The elections were scheduled to happen today, on 1st February, but the decision came following reports that the situation in Nagaland had further deteriorated. On Tuesday, the mass agitation resulted in three people being injured, and the death of two young men in police firing in Dimapur, and in Longleng town, seven were injured in police firing as well.
The JCC has been arguing that the quota for women violated Article 371 (A) of the Constitution, which guaranteed special status to Nagaland, and called for the preservation of customary laws. Despite this, earlier in January, we’d seen that 185 women out of 536 candidates had filed their nominations despite the call to boycott the polls. With the pretty impressive number of women who’d filed nominations, and women like Rosemary Dzuvichu (advisor to Naga Mother’s Association that demands reservation) had told the Hindustan Times before the elections had been postponed, “We hope the elections are held as scheduled, at least in the councils where nominations have been filed.” Since the news of the postponing of the elections, however, we haven’t seen any reports speaking to women who have been protesting for the reservation.