Naga tribes are protesting against the proposal of 33% women’s reservation quota in the parliament. The tribes do not have a problem with women contesting the elections but the want the election to be held exactly according to ‘Naga traditions and customs’.

This has led to a week-long protest in the north-eastern state. The Naga tribes have made three demands, of which only one — calling off the election to urban local bodies — has been accepted by the state government. The Naga group have also demanded the termination of Chief Minister T R Zeliang and his Cabinet and the suspension of the Dimapur Police Commissioner and dismissal of jawans.

The dismissal of the jawans has been demanded because they shot two youths during the protest on January 31.

The Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) and Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) are the two organisations which protested in government offices and restricted government vehicle movement in Kohima and Dimapur on Saturday.

About 20 government offices have been burned in the past few days of protest.

Also read: Implement women’s reservation in local bodies, says Nagaland governor to state Government

NTAC convener, K T Vilie, told The Indian Express, “We will intensify our agitation and extend the bandh to all districts of the state from Monday. It will continue till the CM and his colleagues step down.”

Villie also rationalised the groups’ opposition for 33% women’s quota in the parliament and said, “We have no problem if women contest elections, but that cannot be at the expense of Naga traditions and customs. No Naga is opposed to women contesting elections but there cannot be any quota, especially by invoking Article 243(T) of the Constitution (which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in local body polls). Once this is done, it will infringe upon traditional and customary rights of the Nagas as protected under Article 371(A) of the same Constitution.”

Vekhosayi Nyekha, the co-convenor of the JCC, added that by reserving 33% women’s quota, it will create a tremor in the Naga customs and tradition and will cause “social problems, including political instability and corruption”. He added that protection of the Naga traditions, customs and culture under Article 371(A) was a “hard-earned right” which no Naga would like to forfeit. “It is not a gift from the government of India… A study of Naga history will clearly show how this Article was inserted into the Constitution of India,” Nyekha said.

The groups claim that the bandh will not affect civilians and there won’t be any disturbance in schools and colleges, shops and bazaars, banks and post-offices, private vehicles and businesses.

Picture credit- India Today