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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Eastern Nagaland not to vote: Step taken over autonomous territory, ENPO imposes shutdown

The ENPO, the apex body of seven tribes from the six districts, had on Wednesday also urged the 20 MLAs from the region to 'stay indoors' on Friday in honour of the peoples’ decision to abstain from the polls

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 19.04.24, 07:02 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The Eastern Nagaland region, comprising six districts, is sticking to its decision of not participating in the election to the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state on Friday due to the Centre’s “failure” to announce the creation of the Frontier Nagaland Territory (FNT) before the announcement of the election.

The decision to abstain was reflected in the “indefinite total shutdown” from 6pm on Thursday called by the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) in areas under its jurisdiction.

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The ENPO, the apex body of seven tribes from the six districts, had on Wednesday also urged the 20 MLAs from the region to “stay indoors” on Friday in honour of the peoples’ decision to abstain from the polls. Remaining indoors and not casting their vote would prevent any untoward incident, the ENPO had said.

The Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union (ENLU) in a statement on Friday said since the ENPO and the tribal Hohos have “forced” the MLAs “not to participate in the democratic process of election”, its members (the 20 MLAs) “will not be answerable and should not be blamed” in the event “the talks (on FNT) fail or are affected adversely due to the non-participation in the poll”.

The ENLU said “abstention” from the polls does not provide “any advantage in the negotiation rather, it may delay the entire process” and may even lead to a “breakdown of the talks”.

The decision is likely to affect around 3,99,912 voters out of the 13.25 lakh in the state and the districts of Mon, Tuensang, Longleng, Kiphire, Noklak and Shamator which elect 20 of the state’s 60 MLAs. Nagaland has 16 districts.

The ENPO had on April 1 apprised the Election Commission of India about the “collective” decision of the people of Eastern Nagaland to “abstain” from the polls over the FNT issue.

The people of eastern Nagaland had on March 19 “reaffirmed its commitment” to the February 23, 2024 Chenmoho Resolution “not to participate in any Central and state election and all citizens of Eastern Nagaland shall refrain from casting (their) vote”. Chenmoho is a village in Mon district in eastern Nagaland.

ENPO office-bearers said the decision of the people to abstain was final and they had given “enough” time to the authorities to respond to their long-pending demand.

The Nagaland cabinet, headed by chief minister Neiphiu Rio, had on March 30 issued a joint appeal with the Eastern Nagaland Legislative Union (ENLU) to the ENPO “not to abstain” from the polls “but to participate in the elections and complete our democratic duty for the greater benefit of the region and its constituents” but to no avail.

The demand for a separate state was first raised by the ENPO in 2010 because of the underdevelopment of the region.

The proposed FNT is an autonomous region within the state “decided” after talks between the ENPO and the MHA which had assured the former on December 7 that the issue would be “settled before the announcement of the MCC (model code of conduct) to the Lok Sabha 2024 by the EC”.

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