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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Nagaland: Three associations object against women's reservation before civic polls

The Association of Kohima Municipal Ward Panchayat, All Ward Union Mokokchung Town, and the Dimapur Urban Council Chairman Federation (DUCCF) also opposed the levy of land and building taxes

PTI Kohima Published 11.03.23, 12:32 PM
Neiphiu Rio.

Neiphiu Rio. PTI photo

Three associations wrote to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, stating that they would not "allow" the civic polls in Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung unless the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 is amended to remove the provisions for the reservation of 33 per cent seats for women and the levy of taxes on land and buildings.

The State Election Commission on Thursday announced that it will hold polls for 39 Urban Local Bodies (ULB) after almost two decades on May 16. Of the 39 ULBs, Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung have municipal councils, while the rest are town councils.

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The Association of Kohima Municipal Ward Panchayat (AKMWP), All Ward Union Mokokchung Town (AWUMT) and the Dimapur Urban Council Chairman Federation (DUCCF) wrote to Rio opposing the elections with 33 per cent reservation for women and levy of land and building taxes, claiming that those infringe on the special rights for Nagaland guaranteed by Article 371(A) of the Constitution.

"For the Nagas, Article 371-A is related to both territory and the people, for Nagas the land and all resources belong to the people. All resources include people and Women and accordingly, a law deciding on the political rights of the Naga women rest with the people," the letter said.

"By introducing Women's political culture which was never there in traditional Naga society widens collective concerns over Article 371-A...," it added.

Objecting to taxation, the letter said if the people of the Naga community pay tax to the government then it implies that the land belongs to the government, but for the Nagas, the land belongs to the people.

"If 15 per cent tax is levied on the demarcated municipal area, there will be many people who will be deprived and lose their land & building as they will not be able to pay taxes. In Nagaland, the municipal area may not necessarily be urban area since some of the municipal area are under-developed and rural and therefore, cannot tax the people (sic)," it said.

The rights given to the Nagas in the Constitution are "too powerful", the letter said, adding that reservation provided to women and the levy of taxes on land go against the Naga customs and traditions.

"Article 371-A is a right granted to the Naga people that protects Naga Tribes from colonial as well as the Indian system of taxation," it said.

"...till the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 is reviewed/amended, the Association shall not compromised and will not allow or participate in the election process of the municipality in the State (sic)," the letter said.

In 2017, the government had withheld the decision to conduct the election after clashes left two persons dead and several others injured on the eve of the voting.

The clashes also led to the setting ablaze of the Kohima Municipal Council office, and government offices in the state capital and elsewhere.

However, in March last year, representatives from across the Naga society unanimously agreed that elections to ULBs should be held with 33 per cent reservation for women.

The decision was taken during a consultative meeting of all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, churches, tribal bodies, political parties and NGOs, convened by the state government in the presence of legislators.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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